Greece emerged from the biggest bailout in economic history on Monday after nine years of creditor-mandated austerity, with European institutions hailing the exit a success but jaded Greeks finding little reason to celebrate.
The milestone moves the debt-burdened euro zone member off financial lifelines offered on three occasions by creditors over the best part of a decade, and the country will now need to support itself.
Athens will rely on bond markets to refinance its debt, officially leaving behind a crisis that shrank its economy by a quarter and pushed many into poverty. But with unemployment just under 20 percent, and youth unemployment close to 40% the mood on the streets of Athens was far from festive.
Shut out of bond markets after a fiscal crisis, Greece officially asked for a bailout in April 2010 from the IMF and its euro zone partners. They granted 110 billion euros (£98.7 billion) in loans to avert a financial meltdown. Two more aid packages followed.
Post–bailout, Greece has committed to demanding primary budget surpluses - excluding debt servicing outlays - of 3.5 percent of the country’s annual economic output until 2022, and 2.2 percent until 2060. The wounds of the debt crisis are still healing.
The euro weakened on Monday as the dollar gained before trade talks between the United States and China, due this week, which investors hope will ease tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. Wider concerns over the crisis in Turkey could hurt euro zone banks and uncertainty about the Italian government’s planned budget also weighed on the euro yesterday.