- Paperback: 326 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (26 May 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1530703263
- ISBN-13: 978-1530703265
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Game Over: The Inside Story of the Greek Crisis Paperback – 26 May 2016
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About the Author
George Papaconstantinou was the point man in the Greek economic and financial crisis. When he became Finance Minister in October 2009, he uncovered the true extent of Greece’s fiscal troubles, went on to participate in all the European discussions and efforts to create a support mechanism for Greece, and negotiated the 110 billion Euro loan agreement with the EU and the IMF, together with the package of fiscal, structural and financial policies which went along with the largest loan ever received by a country.
During his tenure as Finance Minister in this critical period for Greece and Europe, he overhauled the budget process, put in place expenditure monitoring and assessment mechanisms, and created an independent statistical authority; embarked on tax reform, with legislative and organizational changes to combat tax evasion; implemented wide-ranging structural reforms in product, service and financial markets; and designed a large-scale privatization program. When he left office, the public deficit was 6 percentage points of GDP lower, Greece had recovered half the competitiveness lost since Eurozone entry and was the fastest reforming OECD country – a huge adjustment effort with however an equally large economic and social cost. In the process, he also became the perfect scapegoat for all the troubles of the country, ending up in a trial by a special court for his handling of the so-called Lagarde list – a gruelling personal ordeal which he powerfully describes in the book.
George was born in Athens in 1961, and studied economics in the UK and the US. After obtaining a Ph.D from the London School of Economics, he went on to work for 10 years as an international civil servant at the OECD in Paris. In 1997, he returned to Greece to serve in a policy advisory capacity for the Greek government under Prime Minister Kostas Simitis. He ran for parliament for the first time in 2000, was elected in 2007, became party spokesman, and in 2009 headed the PASOK list for the June European Parliament elections. He resigned as an MEP a few months after being elected, upon being appointed Finance Minister in the government formed by George Papandreou following the October 2009 elections.
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Top Customer Reviews
To remind, Greek budget deficits (gvt expenditure less income divided by GNP) during 2009 – 11 were: 15.2%, 11.2% and 10.2%. Current Account (Exports minus imports, divided by GDP) was equally disastrous, a 9.9% deficit in 2010. The author’s tenure as senior member of the governing party lasted from Oct ‘09 to Nov ‘11. For a country unable to depreciate, borrow or print money and without the benefit of large transfer payments, such deficits spell catastrophe.
“It wasn’t me, guv” permeates throughout. But it was you. You, and your party and prime minister, George Papandreou. And his dad, Andreas. And his grand-dad George. Over three generations, starting in the ‘60s, the Papandreou family’s populism successively destroyed the country’s economy, finances and values, transforming elections into auctions: whoever promises to deliver ever more. Still, in 2007, Papandreou's government was voted as the best government Greece ever had.
For years economists realised that Greek binging was unsustainable and would end in tears. Corruption and gvt largesse were out of control, tax evasion a national pastime. But when the previous gvt asked for restraint, the author’s party responded “why? There’s plenty of money”. As Economics Minister in waiting, the author must bear full responsibility.
There was no shortage of warnings. In 2001 the mere suggestion of mild pension reform (Giannitsis proposals) caused the biggest demonstrations in history with one million people taking to the streets chanting “hands off our pensions” “we want it now”. The reforms were abandoned. Ten years later pensions collapsed.Read more ›
2) Who were the 'arsonists' that started the fire in Greece?
3) How did a country of just 11 million people and less than 2% of EU GDP manage to bring the entire Eurozone on the brink of collapse?
4) Greece was the first country in EU to receive a bailout and has also received the highest sum but still as of Oct 2016 it is still unable to access markets to raise funds, why?
This book answers these as well as several other crucial questions that I had about the Greek Crisis.
But above all this book is a story of a personal tragedy of two men who tried to steer their country on the right path by telling the truth but were publicly humiliated in return. A must read!
My political connections have always been with the nemesis of the Socialists, the New Democracy party. Five and a half years before the author accepted the poisoned chalice that is the Greek Finance Ministry, I had found myself in a similar position: Entirely through political connection, I was offered to run the debt office.
It was a summary process. The final decision maker was the chief of staff of the Finance Ministry, a man generally acknowledged to be honest and hard-working and whom my father (a keen follower of late-night political debate on TV) thought highly of. By the time him and I were talking turkey, it was the position of deputy we were discussing, but the process was the same. His name was George.
I visited him at his modest office and in no time I was perusing the file of the infamous Goldman swap. “Nice little gift from the previous government,” George said. “First payment not due till after we took over.” And then the bombshell: “I’m letting them stew on it. I’m in arrears! What are you going to do with this?” “Nothing,” I suggested. “This is so enormous, they can’t exactly tell anyone we’re quietly defaulting, it would be material. Let them come to you with a suggestion.” Other than remind me it was pari passu, he did not give me any indication of what he thought of my answer, but the conversation moved on.
Eventually I asked the question: “My real job. What is it? Is it to minimize the NPV of our national debt?”
George’s jaw dropped. Clearly, for all the 16 years I’d spent in Greece, I must have been some type of ingenu foreigner.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Helps give perspective to a very hostile period in the history of european politics. Very much Worth the time to readPublished 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
Excellent account of the Greek crisis. Written by a reformist, a warning against leftist populism. A book recommended to persons who thought Yannis Varoufakis was such a great guy.Published 7 months ago by Roel
This highly readable memoir focuses on Mr Papaconstantinou's tenure as finance minister as the Greek crisis exploded in 2009-11. Read morePublished 8 months ago by A customer
The publicity describes this book as a "real life political thriller". It certainly live up to this description. Read morePublished 10 months ago by John D Bell