Greece's wildly unpopular austerity measures: Too little, too late?

Greek lawmakers approve major spending cuts and tax hikes to secure an EU bailout, though skeptics argue that Greece's economy is still doomed

Protesters in Greece raged against policemen Wednesday while Parliament approved the unpopular austerity program.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis)

Despite angry protests that left dozens injured and Athens "blanketed with tear gas," Greece's Parliament approved a widely deplored austerity program on Wednesday. The belt-tightening will save the government $40 billion over five years, by cutting programs and salaries, while raising some taxes. Lawmakers had to pass the measures to receive $17 billion in European Union loans that Greece needs to avoid defaulting on debt payments due in July. Will slashing government spending save Greece?

Greece has averted disaster: The Greek Parliament really had "no other choice," says economist Domenico Lombardi, as quoted by The Christian Science Monitor. Sure, Greek taxpayers are already extremely unhappy with the last round of austerity measures, so passing these new ones will only make protesters angrier. But the alternative was defaulting on the country's debts, which really would have sent Greece spinning out of control.

"Why Greece will likely pass austerity measures, despite protests"

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The medicine might be worse than the illness: The EU had to ram this austerity program down Greece's throat, says Brown University professor Mark Blyth, as quoted by CNN. And "it's ultimately going to collapse the Greek economy." The Greeks are "basically hacking themselves to pieces" to buy themselves a little time, but the reckoning is still going to come.

"Greece austerity: Poison or cure?"

This might save Ireland and Portugal: Everybody knows Greece will never be able to pay back all its debts, says Matthew Dalton at The Wall Street Journal. But the EU is hoping that by keeping Greece afloat for a few more years, it can give "Ireland and Portugal, the two other bailed out euro-zone nations," time to get their finances in order. "Time is a valuable commodity," and it just might buy the EU a way to keep Greece's mess from spreading.

"Delaying the inevitable in Greece"

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