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January 24, 2012

Dysfunction ruling political process in Greece

New York Times piece by Rachel Donadio on the hapless progress of politics in Athens:

“It’s an implosion — it’s an endless sequence of implosions from bad to worse, to worse, to worse,” said Yanis Varoufakis, an economics professor at the University of Athens and commentator on the Greek economy. “There’s nothing to stop the Greek economy losing 60 percent of its G.D.P., given the path it is at.”

...There is ample evidence of Greece’s political dysfunction. About a year ago, after missing earlier fiscal targets, Greece promised to sell off $65 billion in state assets as a condition for receiving emergency loans. So far, though, it has sold only about $2 billion worth, because of domestic opposition and a reluctance to part with assets at what the government says are fire-sale prices.

The country also pledged to lay off public-sector workers, overhaul tax collection, and make its economy more competitive. But it has fallen short in those areas as well. A law passed in the fall called for cutting 30,000 public jobs by shifting workers into a labor reserve at much lower pay, but only 1,000 workers have been so assigned.

Adding to the sense of déjà vu, last week, the Greek Parliament began debating a bill that would streamline some state entities and open the professional associations governing lawyers and truck drivers, among others — measures it passed in 2010 but never put into effect. "

The bottomline:

"...Officials from the so-called troika of foreign lenders to Greece — the European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund — have come to believe that the country has neither the ability nor the will to carry out the broad economic reforms it has promised"

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