I commented on Twitter on Saturday morning that the “Greek crisis is as much about personalities as it is about cash: Tsipras, Varoufakis, Draghi, Dijsselbloem, Lagarde, Merkel, Tusk, Juncker, Putin, Obama”. My view was reinforced by former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers’ argument in a Financial Times article posted Saturday afternoon that “Greece is no longer about numbers. It is about the high politics of Europe”.
Of course the numbers matter. After all Greece has about € 320bn of debt outstanding but in the greater schemes of things that’s pretty small – about 2% of US government debt to put it in context. The €7.2bn outstanding from the bailout package which all parties have been negotiating for weeks and has caused much market nervousness is equivalent to 0.05% of the eurozone’s GDP. The European Commission, ECB and IMF – aka the Troika – has argued that beyond the pure arithmetic it’s about setting positive precedents, establishing an equal playing field for all eurozone member states and the Greek government adhering to the rules. But it’s arguably also about policy-makers defending their positions and fighting for an optimal outcome, with all the emotions this entails.
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