The Business Times

Europe's Greek test

Published Mon, Feb 2, 2015 · 09:50 PM

IN THE five years (!) that have passed since the euro crisis began, clear thinking has been in notably short supply. But that fuzziness must now end. Recent events in Greece pose a fundamental challenge for Europe: can it get past the myths and the moralising, and deal with reality in a way that respects the continent's core values? If not, the whole European project - the attempt to build peace and democracy through shared prosperity - will suffer a terrible, perhaps mortal blow.

First, about those myths: many people seem to believe that the loans Athens has received since the crisis broke have been subsidising Greek spending.

The truth, however, is that the great bulk of the money lent to Greece has been used simply to pay interest and principal on debt. In fact, for the past two years, more than all of the money going to Greece has been recycled in this way: the Greek government is taking in more revenue than it spends on things other than interest, and handing the extra funds over to its creditors.

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