#LetGreeceBreathe – Australian economists urge Greek debt forgiveness as Syriza election win looks likely

wind iconThe Australian ABC has broadcast the statement of Australian economists on Greek debt and austerity that has been generating strong interest and comment overseas. Excerpts below and further down a link to the full story.

The radical left-wing party’s plans to write-off half of Greece’s foreign debt and increase government spending have also received some unlikely support from Australia.

“I just don’t think that you can hope to continue to pursue austerity in the hope of solving that debt problem,” ANU economist and former federal Liberal leader John Hewson told ABC News Online.

He said severe budget cuts have only served to shrink Greece’s economy, leaving its debt to GDP ratio stuck well above 170 per cent, even after years of government savings measures.

“Since 2010, 25 per cent fall in GDP, significant emigration, they’ve got a fairly unsophisticated social welfare system, 25 per cent plus unemployment, more than double that in youth unemployment,” he observed.

“To imagine that you can continue to pursue austerity measures in those circumstances and hope to achieve a sensible outcome I think is inconceivable.”

Open letter calls for Greek debt forgiveness

Dr Hewson is one of 40 Australian economists who have signed an open letter calling on European authorities to agree to some amount of debt forgiveness.

Dr George Argyrous from the University of New South Wales, one of the petition’s organisers, said ordinary people are currently bearing the burden of Greece’s debts.

In one of his last pre-election rallies, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras promised to end Greece’s humiliation.

“No one, my friends, can frighten or blackmail a people that has been wounded, that has been betrayed, that has been humiliated and that’s why it is determined to take matters into its own hands,” he told the gathered crowd of thousands.

“On Sunday it won’t be the lenders and their representatives in Greece talking. On Sunday the Greek people will speak and they will give a very clear response: No more bailouts, no more submission, no more blackmailing.”

He is of course speaking of the austerity program thrust upon Greece by the so-called troika of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

See full story here

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