Systemic, Conjunctural or Policy Created?
New Directions in Modern Economics series
Edited by Turan Subasat
Chapter 17: The Greek crisis: structural or conjunctural?
The Greek economic crisis is one of the major crises that erupted in the aftermath of the global economic crisis of 2007–08. It is at the epicentre of the eurozone crisis and at the same time has an asymmetric effect – given the size of the Greek economy – on the world economy. This chapter surveys the different explanations of the Greek crisis. It classifies them in three camps: mainstream, radical and Marxist. It argues that the first camp considers the Greek crisis as a predominantly conjunctural one (stemming from nationally specific policy errors). Moreover, it believes that the Greek crisis is independent of the global economic crisis (which is considered as a purely financial one). The radical camp views the Greek crisis as a middle-of-the-road blend of conjunctural and structural causes. It argues that the Greek crisis is the product of policy deficiencies (the dominance of neoliberal financialization policies) which might have turned into structural weaknesses (the emergence of a neoliberal financialized stage of capitalism). This approach relates the Greek to the global economic crisis but mainly externally, and also agrees, in principle, with the mainstream view that the latter is a purely financial crisis. Then the chapter proceeds to present and defend the Marxist perspective. This argues that the Greek crisis is part of the global economic crisis. Both are expressions of deep structural tendencies of the capitalist system (and particularly the tendency of the rate of profit to fall due to the increase of the organic composition of capital). These structural crisis tendencies are being aggravated by the subordinate position of Greek capitalism within the European imperialist bloc and thus the existence of relations of imperialist economic exploitation (that is, broad unequal exchange and strategic inferiority between the euro-core and the euro-periphery economies). Hence financialization and deregulation are considered conjunctural by-products of these deep structural tendencies.
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