Open in the App Open in the App Open in the App
Get the key ideas from

The Full Catastrophe

Travels Among the New Greek Ruins

By James Angelos
21-minute read
The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins by James Angelos

The Full Catastrophe (2015) takes you beyond the headlines on the Greek debt crisis to discover how citizens in Greece and beyond have survived it. Through real-life interviews with people in mountain villages, tourist resorts and in the capital city of Athens, the author lays bare the effects of government budget cuts, austerity policies and endemic corruption.

  • People interested in international politics or European policy
  • Anyone who wants to understand the Greek debt crisis
  • Economists or students of economics examining the effects of austerity

James Angelos is a journalist and former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, and has also written for the New York Times.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

The Full Catastrophe

Travels Among the New Greek Ruins

By James Angelos
  • Read in 21 minutes
  • Contains 13 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins by James Angelos
Synopsis

The Full Catastrophe (2015) takes you beyond the headlines on the Greek debt crisis to discover how citizens in Greece and beyond have survived it. Through real-life interviews with people in mountain villages, tourist resorts and in the capital city of Athens, the author lays bare the effects of government budget cuts, austerity policies and endemic corruption.

Key idea 1 of 13

When Greece entered the eurozone, its economy was booming; but the boom was a bubble.

To understand the current Greek crisis and Greece’s fraught relationship with the euro, let’s first take a look at the country’s economic situation when it first entered the eurozone in 2001.

When Greece joined the eurozone, its economy was booming. Foreign investment flowed into the country; cheap credit was available and easy to obtain.  

As a result, Greek citizens began consuming more, with fancy cars on the road and busy retail shops a common sight in even the smallest of Greek towns. In fact, Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by an impressive 4 percent each year.

Yet this boom was based on a credit bubble, meaning Greece’s strong growth wasn’t sustainable.

At the time, the Greek industrial sector was less developed than in other European countries. Instead of investing borrowed money to improve industry, train workers and develop new technologies, Greece’s government used it mostly to increase wages, pensions and benefits.

As a result, the economy failed to produce or export enough goods to cover its growing debts.

Yet crucially, the trust creditors had in Greece’s economic health was based on a lie.

As a member of the eurozone, Greece was by default considered creditworthy. Membership signalled financial stability, as countries were required to meet certain criteria before joining. A country’s annual deficit, for example, had to be less than 3 percent of GDP.

Yet it was realized too late that Greece from the very beginning didn’t meet the criteria, and had actually faked its numbers to join the eurozone.

In 2009, the government through a large accounting revision revealed that Greece had a projected budget deficit of 12.5 percent of GDP, instead of a previous estimate of 3.7 percent – a discrepancy so large that it couldn’t just be blamed on the global economic crisis alone.

What’s more, the EU statistical office also found evidence of previous “widespread misreporting” on behalf of the government.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.