We don’t understand the Greeks

Everyone is uneasy about the electoral victory of Syriza in Greece and the threat of populism in Europe. The media has been buzzing for days now with comments and analysis, largely talking about what Syriza should do, what should be done by the European Union, Germany, the International Monetary Fund… the consequences of the policies announced…

"Indignados" at Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece, 2011. Author: Ggia
“Indignados” at Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece, 2011. Author: Ggia

Syriza doesn’t want to pay his debt (well, that was part of his campaign platform). The eurozone rejects the idea of releasing Greece from its obligation (of course, what you expect!).

Thus begins the negotiation. And although I wouldn’t say that anything goes in a negotiation, certainly intentions should not be openly revealed from the outset. As such, it is logical that Greece (now the country as a whole, not just a political party) would ask for as much as possible, and that the eurozone would deny everything it can.

The proposal about what Greece should do, which has been widely read in the press in recent days, could be advice about what ultimately comes out of the negotiation. In the meantime, we should not be alarmed by the extreme positions of either side. I don’t know what will happen in the end, but if negotiation goes as expected, we’ll see trickery, pushing and backing off, pressure and threats… just like a spirited game of poker.

In any negotiation there are going to be rational and emotional components. I was going to say that the Greeks voted more with hearts than their heads, but I don’t think that is the case. I suspect that many Greek citizens know or sense the terrible consequences that could befall them if negotiations are abruptly broken off . But they also know they must negotiate, that those previously in power could not negotiate and that, as a result, new representatives are needed.

About Antonio Argandoña

Antonio Argandoña is Emeritus Professor of Economics and holder of the "la Caixa" Chair of Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance at IESE. He teaches mainly in the areas of macroeconomics, monetary economics and international economics, and publishes research on business ethics, corporate social responsibility and organizational governance.

2 thoughts on “We don’t understand the Greeks

  1. Thanks, its a very good information of sharing and making people know about the activities that are being carried out.I think I can find more useful information here, thanks.

  2. why not write off the debt by Greece or defer its repayment by 10 years to allow the Greek economy to recover. But i think the problem will be what if other nations catch on to the gravy train & start not repaying their debts, that would cause problems in the financial system which relies heavily on debt instruments to survive, whivh i think therein lies the problem, ywe need to rely on actual production to run the financial system as opposed to the current situation where everyone is in debt and debt runs the world.

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