July 17, 2015 – This morning, Radio RAI 1 aired an interview with SEP Scientific Council member Stefano Manzocchi, in which he discusses the role of the United States and the IMF in pushing through the Greek bailout plan. Below is a rough translation:
Radio RAI 1: Did the United States or the IMF have direct input in the bailout negotiations?
S. Manzocchi: The US probably played a decisive role in this crisis. Of course, as with all negotiations of this type, their actions were discreet and not visible. But in the final days of the talks, during the most acute phase of the crisis, they did play a role.
They made it known to all involved parties, particularly to the Greek and German governments, that the US would not accept, under any circumstances, a decreased role of Greece with respect to its participation in the EU, and that an exit from the Eurozone would threaten the integrity of the union. Numerous statements were released signaling their unwillingness to countenance an exit, mainly for economic reasons. An economic crisis in the EU at a time of prolonged global stagnation would not be acceptable.
Of course, there is also a geopolitical aspect to this problem. Greece is without a doubt in a very strategic location, and there is also the question of NATO. The geopolitics of the West, specifically of the Atlantic, means that Greece forms the east-most border, beyond which there are fairly unstable states, Turkey among them.
Regarding the IMF, it’s pretty interesting because, on the surface, they seemed to be hindering the process. In reality, this is not so. They had sent a clear message that the priority was to reach an agreement. Yes, they had put in play, during the most acute period of the crisis, the issue of restructuring Greek debt, which inserted a new element of difficulty into the bailout scheme. However, their position had never changed.
Remember, the IMF is not able to issue new credit to a country that has an unsustainable level of debt. This is a technical aspect of the fund. It’s a type of bank, and it cannot lend without the board’s consent.
Radio RAI 1: But professor, with respect to the United States—couldn’t they have done more, especially considering their concerns about Russia?
S. Manzocchi: Well, one can only make bread with the flour one has. Obviously, the US, especially this administration, would probably prefer to be dealing with a more flexible German government, perhaps one less aligned with austerity. This is probably true. However, the US only has certain tools at its disposal. In the Greek crisis, it was not only Germany that wanted to take a hard line, but also the Baltic states.
- The full interview (in Italian) is available from Radio RAI 1.