»Griechenland ist an einem kritischen Punkt angelangt« | Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik


»Griechenland ist an einem kritischen Punkt angelangt«

Rede des ständigen Vertreters des IWF in Athen, Bob Traa, 7.6.2011

Greece has come to a critical point. The country faces an important choice between continuing with the bold reform program to build a modern and competitive economy that provides growth and jobs; or, in the face of the difficult headwinds, to allow the pace of reform to slow. We believe that would be a mistake, because it would prolong the difficult times, rather than help resolve them.
Please recall that just over a year ago the economy was in dire straits, sinking into a deep recession and facing acute fiscal and external pressures. It was against this background that the economic reform program was begun and I will argue that this bold effort has had a positive impact, contrary to the perception in some quarters that advancements under the program have been insignificant. Let me highlight some examples:
• The fiscal deficit. The deficit was cut by 5 percent of GDP despite a recession of 4½ percent of GDP—this is a major achievement;
• Inflation remains too high in the headline but it is declining. Indeed, net of temporary tax effects, it has been running well below the euro-average since July 2010;
• Competitiveness is improving, with unit labor costs falling significantly;
• Dynamic adjustment. The structure of the economy is changing with net exports now leading growth, thereby beginning to offset the moderation in domestic demand;
• The banking system. Very germane to today’s topic, banks have been resilient and maintained adequate capitalization (with several large banks going to the market);
In addition, the country has also started an ambitious agenda of broader structural reforms:
• A major pension reform—one of the boldest in Europehas materially strengthened solvency;
• Labor market reforms have made a step forward toward greater flexibility by cutting hiring and firing costs, and allowing firm-level employment contracts;
• Service sector reforms have begun to free up transport and restricted professions, while business environment reforms are simplifying start-up and licensing procedures, and approval processes for large investments. In short, the country has had significant accomplishments in 2010 for which, also in comparison with other crisis countries that I have been involved with, it deserves credit.


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