The International Monetary Fund admitted it had failed to realise the damage austerity would do to Greece as the Washington-based organisation catalogued mistakes made during the bailout of the stricken eurozone country.
In an assessment of the rescue conducted jointly with the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European commission, the IMF said it had been forced to override its normal rules for providing financial assistance in order to put money into Greece.
Fund officials had severe doubts about whether Greece’s debt would be sustainable even after the first bailout was provided in May 2010 and only agreed to the plan because of fears of contagion.
While it succeeded in keeping Greece in the eurozone, the report admitted the bailout included notable failures.
“Market confidence was not restored, the banking system lost 30% of its deposits and the economy encountered a much deeper than expected recession with exceptionally high unemployment.”
In Athens, officials reacted with barely disguised glee to the report, saying it confirmed that the price exacted for the €110bn (£93bn) emergency package was too high for a country beset by massive debts, tax evasion and a large black economy.”
Under the weight of such measures – applied across the board and hitting the poorest hardest – the economy, they said, was always bound to dive into an economic death spiral.
“For too long they [troika officials] refused to accept that the programme was simply off-target by hiding behind our failure to implement structural reforms,” said one insider. “Now that reforms are being applied they’ve had to accept the bitter truth.”
The IMF said: “The Fund approved an exceptionally large loan to Greece under an stand-by agreement in May 2010 despite having considerable misgivings about Greece’s debt sustainability. The decision required the Fund to depart from its established rules on exceptional access. However, Greece came late to the Fund and the time available to negotiate the programme was short.”
Full article: IMF admits: we failed to realise the damage austerity would do to Greece (GAEB)