Greek Deal

I am trying to understand what, if anything, was agreed by Greece and the rest of the EU yesterday. I’m not sure they even agreed to kick the can down the road.

update 11:00 AM EST Tuesday 2/24/2015: It’s a deal. Greece has four more months without promising a 4.5% of GDP primary surplus.

I think Matt O’Brien wrote a very good explainer for wonkblog at the Washington Post (as usual — he is well worth following). His bottom line seems to be that, while the agreement presents itself as a Greek surrender, they haven’t conceded the key point.

Greece got Europe to concede that it “will, for the 2015 primary surplus target, take the economic circumstances of 2015 into account.” In other words, Greece won’t have to do the austerity it was supposed to this year.

However, the rest of Europe hasn’t conceded yet either, since they have not agreed to rollover any loans Liz Aderman and James Kanter report for the New York Times

On Monday, Greece must send its creditors a list of all the policy measures it plans to take over the next four months. If the measures are acceptable, European finance ministers could sign off on an extension of the bailout agreement on Tuesday.

So the result of the dramatic agreement is that Greece hasn’t promised further austerity in exchange for a bailout and the rest of Europe hasn’t promised a bailout. They have delayed for four more days deciding whether to delay for four more months the inevitable concession that Greece will not pay its foreign debts.

So all in all the best that could be hoped.

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