Pragmatism is required amid Greek deal stand-off

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Sir, The difficulties of negotiations between Greece and the eurogroup pose a real risk of no agreement — with potentially serious consequences, economic and political, for the Greek people and for all citizens of the EU. The essence of an economic union is give and take — giving now that you may benefit later, as well as responding to the democratic demands of its citizens. In fact, in the view of many of us, “appropriate concessions” by creditors would actually benefit not only Greece, but even those so adamant at staying the course. Without a change, the European project could fail.
We fear that inability to reach a positive agreement could be the beginning of the break-up not just of the eurozone but of the European project. The consequent distress would contribute to disintegrative political tendencies. It is clear what Greece needs now: economic recovery — aided by a significant easing of fiscal targets, of a maximum of 1.5 per cent of GDP surplus; by some financial restructuring of its debts, including linking debt servicing to meaningful growth; and by fiscal reform that involves cracking down on corruption and weakening of the economic powers of oligarchs.

Moreover, as your columnist Wolfgang Münchau insists (February 16) the Greek government has a democratic mandate for alternatives to the failed policies of the past. For its partners, currently wedded to a draconian model of fiscal adjustment leading to lack of growth, there is the challenge and the opportunity of tailoring policy to recovery, investment and jobs. Admittedly this requires a degree of pragmatism: but the pay-off is the promise of more growth in Europe. And growth, as they say, lifts all boats. Time may be running out — but there is, it seems, a deal to be struck.

Prof Joseph Stiglitz

Columbia University, Nobel Prize winner of Economics

Prof Chris Pissarides

London School of Economics, Nobel Prize winner of Economics

Prof Mary Kaldor

London School of Economics

Prof Stephany Griffith-Jones

IPD Columbia University

Michael Burke

Economists Against Austerity

Prof Panicos Demetriades

University of Leicester; former Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus and ECB Governing Council member

Prof Charles Goodhart

London School of Economics

Sir Richard Jolly

Emeritus Professor Institute for Development Studies

Professor Inge Kaul

Hertie School, Berlin

Prof Gustav A Horn

Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK)

Neil MacKinnon

VTB Capital

Prof Marcus Miller

Warwick University

Prof Jose Antonio Ocampo

Columbia University

Avinash Persaud

Peterson Institute for International Economics

Helmut Reisen

Shifting Wealth Consult

Robert Skidelsky

Emeritus Professor, University of Warwick

Hilary Wainwright

Transnational Institute, Amsterdam

Prof Simon Wren-Lewis

Merton College Oxford