SAFE Policy Lecture: George Papaconstantinou
Title: Greece – a Never Ending Tragedy?
Speaker: George Papaconstantinou, Former Minister of Finance, Greece
Moderator: Hans-Helmut Kotz, SAFE and Harvard University
Late in fall 2009, the difference between two-year Greek and German government bonds was barely 50 basis points. In other words, markets were confident that Greece could honor its obligations. But then, taking stock of public finances, the incoming new government had to substantially revise upwards budget deficit numbers twice over the course of a few months. This swiftly undermined credibility, showing in rising spreads. In May 2010, the first Greek bailout was launched. Ever since, Greece and its creditors have tried to set the right course. The country not only went through a dramatic fiscal consolidation and extensive reforms, but also through a deep recession and record-high unemployment. Today, the third support program, launched in 2015, is again in trouble. The Greek tragedy continuous. Papaconstantinou’s forceful book, “Game Over – The Inside Story of the Greek Crisis”, which documents Greece’s and his travails, provides the background for his lecture.
George Papaconstantinou was the Finance Minister in charge when Greek budget numbers had to be corrected and the first bailout was negotiated. Papaconstantinou studied economics in the UK and the US, earned his PhD at the London School of Economics and worked for ten years at the OECD in Paris. He returned to Greece to initially serve as an advisor to the government, was then elected to the Greek Parliament in 2007, the European Parliament in 2009 and appointed Minister of Finance in the newly formed government of Prime Minister George Papandreou in fall 2009.