Ever since the left-wing, anti-austerity Syriza party in Greece took control of the country, Greek leaders have been putting up a fight for its economy, reported Democracy Now. Greek financial leaders will continue trying to get their country out of the eurozone in order to keep their economy from completely bottoming-out.
Greece’s problems really didn’t go full tilt until Wall Street banks got involved. One of the main culprits is Goldman Sachs, which enabled Greece to hide their debts. The bank charged them $300 million for the operation, a veritable payday for the massive bank. This transaction goes all the way back to 2001, the year that Greece became part of Europe’s monetary union.
The New York Times reported in 2010 that “Wall Street tactics akin to the ones that fostered subprime mortgages in America have worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece.” Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and many others contributed to the growing Greek debt crisis.
Their tactic? Take advantage of an entity while its down and use the desperation of another country to line Wall Street’s pockets. The banks took interest into a high risk client, and, driven by greed, they intensified an already existing problem. Did the banks care? No. They just cared about what’s profitable.
“Politicians want to pass the ball forward, and if a banker can show them a way to pass a problem to the future, they will fall for it,” said economist Gikas Hardouvelis.
The banks worsened the problem so much that the European Union called for an investigation into Goldman Sachs and the other banks involved.
“It appears that Goldman Sachs have colluded with past Greek governments to reduce the appearance of Greece’s debt for short-term gain, while in reality making it worse than ever,” said Arlene McCarthy, vice-president of the European parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee. “These deals have increased costs for Greek taxpayers and left a mess behind for Greece’s citizens and the eurozone.”
Today, this problem has compounded over the years and with the threat of austerity, Greece has been backed into a corner.
When Greek financial minister, Yaris Varoufakis, introduced a compromise proposal to German finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, the proposal was swiftly rejected. A union of 19 eurozone finance ministers will meet again today in Brussels in an attempt “to resolve a standoff that has sent jitters across the continent at the prospect of a messy Greek exit from the single currency.”
Greek’s €240 billion bailout expires in exactly one week. However, austerity measures attached to the bailout are making it difficult for the country to break out and abandon the euro. Because Greece is “locked out” of international lending markets, the country could go completely broke next month if no deal is reached, reported The Guardian.
“We are working so that Greece stays in the eurozone,” said Germany’s commissioner to the European Union, Guenther Oettinger. “On this basis I think an agreement will still be possible in the next eight days – if necessary via a further meeting of government leaders.”
Austerity measures and past deals with banks have Greece in the pressure cooker. If no deal is reached, Greece’s economy will tank, only accentuating the actions of Wall Street banks that sent the Greek economy from a stall into an outright tailspin.