- George Papaconstantinou, Former Minister of Finance of Greece, and Author, Game Over: The Inside Story of the Greek Crisis
- Hans Kundnani, Bosch Public Policy Fellow, Transatlantic Academy, and Senior Transatlantic Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
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The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) invites you to a discussion with author George Papaconstantinou on his most recent book Game Over: The Inside Story of the Greek Crisis, in which he shares his experience of the Greek financial crisis from his perspective as the former Greek Minister of Finance. This discussion will be moderated by Transatlantic Academy Bosch Public Policy Fellow and GMF Senior Transatlantic Fellow Hans Kundnani.
Game Over: The Inside Story of the Greek Crisis
In this real-life political thriller, Minister Papaconstantinou tells the inside story of the six years during which the Greek drama changed Europe and riveted the world. It is the story of a country forced by past mistakes into unprecedented actions with enormously painful consequences. A story about the people who shaped events by trying to respond to rapidly evolving circumstances often beyond their control. About decisions – good and bad, right and wrong – taken in official and behind-the-scenes gatherings in Brussels, Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, London, New York, Washington and Athens; in Luxembourg châteaux courtyards, Davos kitchens and Bilderberg gatherings; in elegant offices and dreary basement meetings rooms.
The story begins in October 2009 in Athens, when after a landslide victory, the new government shocks the world by announcing a fiscal deficit of an alarming size, until then kept secret. The “accident waiting to happen” since the launch of the Euro is finally here – but there are no contingency plans to deal with it, and the systemic nature of the crisis is initially not fully appreciated. When a bailout mechanism is finally put together, it fails to convince markets that the Eurozone will do whatever it takes to prevent the bankruptcy of one of its members. The bluff is called, and Greece is forced to apply in May 2010 for a massive loan from the Eurozone and the IMF, and accept a harsh austerity program. As the first loan installment arrives one day before the country declares default, the first wage and pension cuts produce riots and social unrest which leave three people dead.
But the crisis is not over – it mutates. Delays in recognizing the problem and mistakes in the way it is dealt with end up opening the gates of hell for the entire Eurozone. Ireland is forced into a bailout – Portugal follows. And in Greece, the initial good program results are soon swept away by the concern in international markets that Greece might exit the Eurozone. Meanwhile the continuing austerity leads to an ever-deeper recession, rapidly rising unemployment, increasing social tensions, and real suffering.
Six years down the road since the crisis erupted, Greece is in its third bailout, still in a severe social and economic crisis, and there are so many questions. Were other solutions available? Should Greece have threatened to default in order to get a better deal? Should there have been debt relief from the beginning? Would Greece have been better off if it had left the Euro? Has Greece saved the Euro but not itself? The book addresses these questions with the eye of someone at the heart of decision-making during the crisis.
George Papaconstantinou is a Greek economist and politician, and is the former Minister for the Environment, Energy, and Climate Change of Greece and former Minister for Finance. He studied economics in the U.K. and the U.S., obtaining a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. After working for 10 years at the OECD in Paris, he returned to Greece to serve in a policy advisory capacity for the Greek government. In 2007, he was elected to the Greek Parliament, and in 2009 to the European Parliament. In October 2009 he was appointed Finance Minister in the newly formed government of George Papandreou. In that position, he played a key role in the Greek crisis, negotiating the first bailout with Greece’s European partners and the IMF.
Hans Kundnani is a Bosch Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy and a senior transatlantic fellow with GMF’s Europe program. He previously worked as the research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of The Paradox of German Power (2014).