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Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe
     

Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe

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by James K. Galbraith
 

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A world-renowned economist offers cogent and powerful reflections on one of the great avoidable economic catastrophes of the modern era

The economic crisis in Greece is a potential international disaster and one of the most extraordinary monetary and political dramas of our time. The financial woes of this relatively small European nation threaten the long

Overview

A world-renowned economist offers cogent and powerful reflections on one of the great avoidable economic catastrophes of the modern era

The economic crisis in Greece is a potential international disaster and one of the most extraordinary monetary and political dramas of our time. The financial woes of this relatively small European nation threaten the long-term viability of the Euro while exposing the flaws in the ideal of continental unity. "Solutions" proposed by Europe’s combined leadership have sparked a war of prideful words and stubborn one-upmanship, and they are certain to fail, according to renowned economist James K. Galbraith, because they are designed for failure. It is this hypocrisy that prompted former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, when Galbraith arrived in Athens as an adviser, to greet him with the words “Welcome to the poisoned chalice.”
 
In this fascinating, insightful, and thought-provoking collection of essays—which includes letters and private memos to both American and Greek officials, as well as other previously unpublished material—Galbraith examines the crisis, its causes, its course, and its meaning, as well as the viability of the austerity program imposed on the Greek citizenry. It is a trenchant, deeply felt commentary on what the author calls “economic policy as moral abomination,” and an eye-opening analysis of a contemporary Greek tragedy much greater than the tiny economy of the nation itself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/18/2016
This insider’s account gives a step-by-step narration of Greece in crisis from 2010 through October 2015 as the country rebelled against, then finally capitulated to, European Union dictates to repay the national debt. Galbraith, a University of Texas economist, served as advisor to Greece’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, during the crisis. He even helped draft the secret “Plan X” in case Greece needed to exit the Euro. Galbraith argues that the EU’s austerity measures will not only cripple Greece economically—ensuring eventual default or defection from the Euro—but destabilize European unity and encourage right-wing extremism. Galbraith unveils what the European Central Bank’s euphemistic terms really mean for Greece: an increase in the value-added tax rate to 23% (driving tourism, Greece’s largest industry, elsewhere), depressed wages and pensions, loan defaults, and liquidity crises. Moreover, this economic death spiral could spread to other EU countries. Whatever the outcome, this is an eloquent and informed chronicle of the Greek debt crisis for current readers and future historians. Agent: Wendy Strothman, Strothman Agency. (June)
Financial Times - Delphine Strauss
“This book ... written in the heat of the moment, serves as a running commentary on the [Greek financial] crisis…Gives Syriza’s take on a story often seen in the Anglophone press through the eyes of Brussels officials… Always a critic of economic orthodoxy, Galbraith is even more savage in his indictment of the political calculations that shaped the creditor’s position.”—Delphine Strauss, Financial Times
New York Times Book Review - Paul Hockenos
"Accessible prose flush with strong argument."—Paul Hockenos, New York Times Book Review
Foreign Affairs - Andrew Moravcsik
"How did Europe fall into this trap of low growth, high inequality, and political discontent? Galbraith offers the most succinct explanation of why the system has benefited Germany at the expense of weaker economies."—Andrew Moravcsik, Foreign Affairs
Kirkus Reviews
2016-04-11
A series of essays, letters, and other documents examining the latest Greek tragedy.Is it possible to save the eurozone? Given the events that have settled on Greece, suggests acclaimed economist Galbraith (Chair, Government/Business Relations/Univ. of Texas; Inequality: What Everyone Needs to Know, 2016, etc.), the odds weigh against it; it seems likelier "that the euro will, at some point, in some country, crack." In one view, the drama of Greece, beset by creditors and pushed into unwonted and unwanted austerity, is merely a "side effect of the global banking and financial disaster" that began to steamroll its way across the world in 2007—a disaster that had its origins in sloppy American fiscal practices and that took down many other economies with it. In another view, it is a continuation of indifferent, occasionally hostile relations between Greece and other European nations, which treat it as an unwelcome guest at the banquet. Galbraith writes sometimes as a journalist, sometimes as a policy analyst, sometimes as an outright advocate for Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek economist and liberal politician who has been leading a resistance movement against European Union-imposed austerity programs that disregard certain Greek realities—e.g., the facts that it has an aging population with a poor system of unemployment insurance as well as "one of Europe's most militant working classes," not likely to be compliant with the directives of German banks and Belgian bureaucrats. The breakup of the eurozone, writes the author, might not be an altogether bad thing. And in the place of the euro? It's anyone's guess, but Galbraith reminds us that after the gold standard collapsed, Bretton Woods came along, and the world did not end. A book best read by policy wonks of a numerate bent but accessible to noneconomists as well.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300220445
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
06/21/2016
Pages:
232
Sales rank:
711,515
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

James K. Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr., Chair in Government/Business Relations at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of eight books and hundreds of articles for both scholarly and general-interest journals.

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Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ElliottK More than 1 year ago
James Galbraith recognizes that the European Union is mired in its most acute crisis since its founding. As a strong believer in the E.U., he offers a succinct diagnosis of the problems, but just as importantly, prescriptions on how to deal with them. In short, Galbraith offers Keynesian solutions along with a dedication to deeper political and economic integration. The book is a great read for anyone interested in the political economy issues of modern Europe.