This is one of those good news/bad news stories.
Greece was the European nation hardest hit by the greed of Wall Street banksters who brought the world to its knees eight years ago, triggering a Great Recession which still hasn’t ended and threatens to worsen yet again, as the United Nations noted in a report last month:
Although a modest global recovery is projected for 2017-18, the world economy has not yet emerged from the period of slow growth, characterised by weak investment, dwindling trade and flagging productivity growth, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2017 report launched today.
The report states that the world economy expanded by just 2.2 per cent in 2016, the slowest rate of growth since the Great Recession of 2009. World gross product is projected to grow by 2.7 per cent in 2017 and 2.9 per cent in 2018, a slight downward revision from the forecasts made last May.
For Greece, that means an unparalleled crisis may be imminent as the nation and its citens are still reeling from the current crisis the onerous costs of the current bailout.
The bailout package from the troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission — has eased the impacts on Greece, though at a huge price. The nation’s ports, transportation infrastructure, and energy grid have already been sold off to multinationals, pay and pensions have been slashed repeatedly, healthcare benefits cut, and much, much more.
And employment, though improved, still reaches staggering levels, especially for young workers, as indicated in the latest numbers from the Hellenic Statistical Authority:
The current bailout isn’t done, and the troika is demanding still more cuts, though a deal may be near.
Representatives of the country’s international creditors are expected to return to Athens this week for a resumption of bailout talks despite continuing tensions between Greece and its lenders, highlighted by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over the weekend.
In a speech before SYRIZA’s central committee on Saturday, Tsipras lashed out at Greece’s creditors, calling on them to revise their “irrational demands” of Greece.
“We will not agree to demands that are not backed up by logic and numbers,” he said.
He called on the International Monetary Fund in particular to revise its recent assessments of Greece’s economic prospects so that stalled bailout negotiations can resume at the technical level.
Tsipras also called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to rein in Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his “constant hostility” towards Greeks, accusing him of trying to create a “two-speed eurozone” and comparing him to a “pyromaniac… playing with matches in a warehouse full of explosives.”
More from Deutsche Welle [emphasis added]:
The new agreement would release a new tranche from its 86 billion euro ($91.5 billion) bailout fund. That, in turn, would enable Greece to meet a major debt repayment of 7.2 billion euros that is due this summer.
EU and IMF lenders want Greece to make 1.8 billion euros — or 1 percent of gross domestic product — worth of new cuts by 2018 and another 1.8 billion euros after that on measures focused on broadening the tax base and on pension reductions.
New cuts — especially to pensions, which have already been reduced 11 times since the start of the crisis in 2010 — are difficult to sell to a public worn down by years of austerity.
Breaking the deadlock in the coming weeks is considered paramount, with elections in the Netherlands on March 15 and in France in the spring threatening to make a resolution even more difficult.
But [Eurogroup chief Jeroen] Dijsselbloem warned that the next meeting of eurozone ministers on February 20, which is seen as an unofficial deadline ahead of the votes, would still be too early for a breakthrough.