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Greece Votes

I write this early Sunday afternoon, as Greece Parliament discusses more austerity measures. Unfortunately, there remains no good answer for Greece, just differing degrees of less bad.

If the austerity measures pass and Greece receives the additional 130 billion euros, the problem of meeting the debt payment is again kicked down the road a bit. The idea of pushing the problem farther off into the future is to allow Greece enough time to kickstart its economy so it can meet its debt obligations. However, it is also important to recognize that additional austerity measures now will further weaken an economy already in recession. That suggests that tax revenue might fall short of the current target, which will put additional pressure on the Greek government budget.

One of the key bits of the new austerity program is a 20% reduction in the minimum wage. According to the CIA World Factbook, about 20% of the population of Greece lived below the poverty line. That is the estimate for 2009. The economy has contracted consdierably since then. I can't imagine a 20% pay cut to the lowest wage earners helping this group.

I do not see an option for Greece, at this point, that will not further weaken its economy. Greece's economy will likely deteriorate through the rest of this year. Estimates to tax revenue will need to be revised. And, I anticipate that the poor performance of the Greek economy will continue to cast a shadow over growth through much of Europe.