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Issue Guide: Greece's Debt Crisis

Author: Jeanne Park
Updated July 3, 2015

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Five years after the onset of its sovereign debt crisis, Greece once again finds itself on the precipice of default and a departure from the nineteen-member eurozone. This reading list provides expert background and analysis of the crisis. 

Background:
Protesters gather in front of the parliament during an anti-austerity and pro-government demonstration in Athens on February 15, 2015. (Photo: Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters)

CFR Timeline: Greece's Debt Crisis
Since the creation of the European Union in 1992 and the subsequent launch of the euro, Greece's fiscal mismanagement and resulting debt crisis has repeatedly threatened the stability of the eurozone—and the country's troubles are far from over. This interactive timeline reviews turning points in this country's debt crisis.

New York Times: Explaining the Greek Debt Crisis
Why is Greece facing default five years after the start of its debt crisis? The New York Times' Liz Alderman explains.

WSJ Interactive: Greece's Debt Due
Greece faces a challenging schedule of repayments in the coming weeks. This WSJ interactive spells out what Greece owes, when.

Project Syndicate: Why the Greek Bailout Failed
Imposing structural-adjustment programs from the outside is simply not an effective option, writes economist Kenneth Rogoff. "For reforms to take hold, the Greek government and its electorate must believe in them."

CFR Backgrounder: The Eurozone in Crisis
The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path toward European integration, continues to struggle with the effects of its sovereign debt crises and their implications for the future of the common currency.

CFR Interview: What a Syriza Victory Would Mean for Europe
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras must reconcile his defiant stance toward economic austerity with his country's unyielding creditors, says ELIAMEP's Eleni Panagiotarea.

CFR Video: Greek Economic Crisis—Three Things to Know
Robert Kahn, CFR's Steven A. Tananbaum senior fellow for international economics, offers three things to know about the Greek economic crisis and what it could mean for the global economy.

Oxi or Nai: The Greek Referendum:

Vox: The Greek Referendum Explained
What are the Greeks voting on? And what will this historic vote mean for Greece’s place in the eurozone and European Union? Vox’s Timothy B. Lee explains.

Bloomberg: The Greek Referendum Outcomes Explained in One Chart
However the vote turns out, there will be potential paths to exiting the euro, as well as to a new bailout. Bloomberg Intelligence economist Maxime Sbaihi outlines the roadmaps and probable timeline in this diagram.

New York Times: Greece Over the Brink
“Greece should vote ‘no,’ and the Greek government should be ready, if necessary, to leave the euro,” writes Times’ columnist Paul Krugman.

Kathimerini: A Bulwark Against Disaster
“A ‘yes’ victory will not only demonstrate the majority’s wish to safeguard its economic and social rights within a European framework; it will also act as a bulwark against their plan. No matter how much they’d like to, Tsipras and his people cannot ignore the pressure of the people’s will,” writes Kathimerini’s Angelos Stangos.

Bloomberg View: Is Anyone Ready for a 'No' Vote in Greece?
Bloomberg's Mark Gilbert argues that even though the referendum is likely to throw Greece into even greater chaos, European leaders must be careful not to be seen pushing for "regime change" of the country's Syriza leadership.

Financial Times: How I Would Vote if I Were Greek
For Greeks, the choice in this upcoming referendum is between further creditor-demanded austerity and sovereign default, writes the FT’s chief economics commentator Martin Wolf.

On the Question of  'Grexit':

Economist: Europe’s Future in Greece’s Hands
“The moral of Greece’s disaster is that Europeans must face up to the euro’s contradictions now—or suffer the consequences in more ruinous circumstances.”

CFR Blog: Greece: Game Over?
“Time is short to avoid exit. The week after the referendum could be decisive,” writes CFR’s Robert Kahn.

New Yorker: Can the United States Prevent a Grexit?
“The Obama Administration may well be about to discover what the Irish, the Cypriots, and the Greeks have already found out: flexibility isn’t the E.U.’s strong point,” writes the New Yorker’s John Cassidy.

Bloomberg View: Europe Wants to Punish Greece With Exit
"If Greece leaves the system, it won't be because Greeks decide to leave; it will be because Europe decides to kick them out," writes Bloomberg's Clive Crook.

CFR Blog: Which Countries Stand to Lose Big from a Greek Default?
"Risk-shifting in the eurozone only works as long as the shiftees have the ability and willingness to bear it, and a Greek default will undermine both," write CFR's Benn Steil and Dinah Walker.

Der Spiegel: Grexit Grumblings—Germany Open to Possible Greek Euro Zone Exit
“Officials in Berlin and Brussels no longer subscribe to the so-called 'domino theory,' which held that a Greek collapse would be followed by others. It has been replaced by the 'chain theory,' which holds that the entire chain would become stronger were its weakest link to be eliminated,” write Nikolaus Blome, Giorgos Christides, Christian Reiermann, and Gregor Peter Schmitz.

Beyond Contagion:

CFR Expert Brief: High Stakes in Greece
Greece teeters ever closer to the brink of a eurozone exit, a move whose consequences for Western interests would go far beyond just the severing of the monetary union, says CFR's Sebastian Mallaby.

Carnegie Europe: Would Grexit Be a Geopolitical Disaster?
Eight experts weigh in on the political risks of a Greek departure from the eurozone.

CFR Interview: Will Greece Trigger a European Crisis?
Will Greece pivot to Russia or China? Eurasia Group's Ian Bremmer predicts that this Greek government “will use every lever at their disposal to restructure their economic debt.”

Long Reads:

Brookings Institution: Monnet's Brandy and Europe's Fate
Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott examines the evolution of European integration through the prism of its chief architect: Jean Monnet.

Foreign Affairs: EMU and International Conflict
Economist Martin Feldstein writes that the common currency will spur, not minimize, intra-EU conflict in this 1997 essay.

Vanity Fair: Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds
A classic of the genre, journalist Michael Lewis examines the corruption and political chicanery that contributed to the country's debt crisis.

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