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Even After Six Years Of Great Depression-Level Crisis, Greece Still On A ‘Quest For Hope’

Police guard the National Bank of Greece in Athens. Undated, uploaded Feb. 13, 2015.
Global Panorama
Police guard the National Bank of Greece in Athens.

The Greek parliament passed a series of economic and judicial reform measures stipulated by creditors on Thursday, allowing talks to go forward on a bailout package for the country.

If a deal is reached, it would mark the third bailout package for Greece in five years and is expected to be worth as much as 85 billion euros, according to the Associated Press.

Greece’s financial crisis began in 2009 after the government revealed it had been underreporting its deficit numbers. This led international creditors to bar Greece from borrowing, pushing to country towards bankruptcy.

“Their financial practices were shoddy to say the least,” said University of Oklahoma Department of International and Area Studies Chair, Mitchell Smith.

Since then, Greece has received two bailout packages – one in 2010 and again in 2012 – and been suffered a continuing financial crisis on the scale of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

With each loan package, creditors have stipulated a number of austerity and economic restructuring measures for Greece, but don’t appear to have helped turn Greece’s economy around. 

“This is really the big debate that’s been going on: Has austerity made things worse rather than helping?” said Smith.

Although Greece experienced a period of economic growth immediately after joining the Eurozone, Smith says it was practices during those first few years of stability that led to the current crisis.

“Capital flooded in and it was not necessarily spent in effective and productive ways, and I think consequence of that began to emerge over the next few years, up to the point where we are today,” said Smith.

With new austerity measures, Greece’s economy is expected to continue shrinking. Smith says this six-year-long recession has been “a quest for hope” for Greece.

“The question is, where will hope come from for the Greek people?” said Smith.

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