As we saw in several posts on this site, last year was a tumultuous one for the Greek people and their economy. The economy was on the verge of bankruptcy; the Greek people rejected the terms of a bailout in a referendum; exit from the eurozone and having to return to the drachma seemed likely; banks were forced to closed at the height of the crisis; capital controls were imposed, with people restricted to drawing €60 a day or €420 a week – a policy still in force today; unemployment soared and many people suffered severe hardship.
To achieve the bailout, the Syriza government had to ignore the results of the referendum and agree to harsh austerity policies and sweeping market-orientated supply-side policies. This, at least, allowed Greece to stay in the eurozone. It held, and won, another election to seek a further mandate for these policies.
But what are the prospects for 2016? Will it be a year of recovery and growth, with market forces working to increase productivity? Does 2016 mark the beginning of the end and, as prime minister Alexis Tsipras put it, “a final exit from economic crisis”?
Or will the continuing cuts simply push the economy deeper into recession, with further rises in unemployment and more and more cases of real human hardship? Is there a hysteresis effect here, with the past six years having created a demoralised and deskilled people, with cautious investors unable and/or unwilling to rebuild the economy?
The article below looks at the rather gloomy prospects for Greece and at whether there are any encouraging signs. It also looks at the further demands of the troika of creditors – the IMF, the ECB and the European Commission’s European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – and at what the political and economic impact of these might be.
Greece’s economic crisis goes on, like an odyssey without end The Guardian, Helena Smith (4/1/16)
- Construct a timeline of Greece’s debt repayments, both past and scheduled, and of the bailouts given by the troika to prevent Greece defaulting.
- What supply-side reforms are being demanded by Greece’s creditors?
- What will be the effect of these supply-side reforms in (a) the short run; (b) the long run?
- Explain the meaning of hysteresis as it applies to an economy in the aftermath of a recession. How does the concept apply in the Greek situation?
- Discuss the alternative policy options open to the Greek government for tackling the persistent recession.
- Would it be better for Greece to leave the euro? Explain your arguments.
- “I cannot see how this government can survive the reforms. And I cannot see how it can avoid these reforms.” Is there any way out of this apparent impasse for the Greek government?
Blockbuster US has become the latest in a long line of companies filing for bankruptcy. With huge debts and a need to restructure the business, given the huge competition in America, Blockbuster has made agreements with its creditors to cut its debts from $1 billion to $100 million. Blockbuster has suffered from mail-order and online film rental services, in particular in America.
Blockbuster is a worldwide phenomenon with stores ranging from the UK to Mexico. However, as legally separate entities, the non-US branches of Blockbuster are protected from the bankruptcy. While the UK branches will remain unaffected, there are concerns that they may suffer from a lack of new DVD stock, especially with the approach of Christmas.
As news of Blockbuster’s bankruptcy spread, Netflix – a key competitor – saw its shares soar. Netflix was a catalyst in the demise of Blockbuster US and it has seen its market share increase rapidly over the past few years, with subscribers increasing from 1 million in 2002 to 15 million in 2010. Blockbuster responded by ending late fees and started its own online services, but it has been unable to compete effectively in this competitive market. Although restructuring of Blockbuster has begun, only time will tell what the future is for this once dominant movie rental firm.
Blockbuster files for Bankruptcy in US BBC News (23/9/10)
Blockbuster fizzles in US, but renters overseas haven’t switched to Netflix – yet The Christian Science Monitor, Stephen Kurczy (23/9/10)
Blockbuster files for Chapter 11 protection Guardian, Richard Wachman (23/9/10)
Blockbuster wins Court’s approval to draw $20 million from bankruptcy loan Bloomberg, David McLaughlin and Tiffany Kary (23/9/10)
Fitch lowers debt rating on Blockbuster Bloomberg BusinessWeek (23/9/10)
Netflix shares hit high after Blockbuster bankruptcy Reuters, Sue Zeidler (23/9/10)
Debt, changing media habits topple Blockbuster The Associated Press, Mae Anderson (23/9/10)
- What are the key factors behind Blockbuster’s decline?
- New competitors have entered the market for movie rental. Illustrate this on a diagram. How can we use this to explain Blockbuster’s problems?
- Online services and mail-order have become increasingly popular services in this market. Is the extra competition in the market in the best interests of consumers?
- What type of market structure is the rental movie industry? Explain your answer.
- What type of legal structure does Blockbuster operate under? What are the key advantages and disadvantages of this?
- Why are the non-US chains not affected by the bankruptcy of Blockbuster US?
- Have a look at the share prices of Blockbuster and Netflix. What has happened to them over rthe past year? Is this consistent with recent developments?