Thomas Piketty slams Angela Merkel's disastrous austerity policies: "History will remember you for your actions this week"

The "Capital" author joined 4 other prominent economists in an open letter to the German chancellor about austerity

By Scott Eric Kaufman
July 7, 2015 11:47PM (UTC)
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Thomas Piketty (Reuters/Charles Platiau)

A group of prominent economists -- Thomas Piketty, Heiner Flassbeck, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Dani Rodrik, and Simon Wren-Lewis -- published a scorching open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, warning her that if she doesn't "provide the bold and generous steps towards Greece that will serve Europe for generations to come," there could be "far-reaching economic consequences across the world."

The austerity measures imposed by Europe upon Greece have failed, they argue, noting that "the financial demands made by Europe have crushed the Greek economy, led to mass unemployment, a collapse of the banking system, made the external debt crisis far worse, with the debt problem escalating to an unpayable 175 percent of GDP."

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The humanitarian cost of the measures are equally grave, with "40 percent of children now [living] in poverty, infant mortality sky-rocketing and youth unemployment close to 50 percent." The social order has also broken down, and the already notoriously corrupt Greek government has become even more so.

"[T]he series of so-called adjustment programs inflicted on the likes of Greece has served only to make a Great Depression the likes of which have been unseen in Europe since 1929-1933," they write. "The medicine prescribed by the German Finance Ministry and Brussels has bled the patient, not cured the disease."

They note that modern Europe -- and in particular, modern Germany -- "was founded on the forgiveness of past debts, which generated a massive contribution to post-war economic growth and peace. Today we need to restructure and reduce Greek debt, give the economy breathing room to recover, and allow Greece to pay off a reduced burden of debt over a long period of time."

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"History will remember you for your actions this week," they conclude. "We expect and count on you to provide the bold and generous steps towards Greece that will serve Europe for generations to come."


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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