The Corner

Backsliding in Greece

Weeks after agreeing to fiscal cutbacks in exchange for a massive bailout, the government of Greece is trying to re-cut the terms of the deal:

Greece will provide visiting EU and IMF inspectors with an actuarial study on Friday and hopes it will help convince them to water down the terms of the deal, including implementing the pension reform fully in 2018 rather than 2015.

“This is also an open issue, whether the new way of pension calculation will be implemented in 2015 or 2018,” Deputy Labour Minister George Koutroumanis told Skai Radio on Wednesday.

“We have specific arguments on why (it should be) in 2018 and not in 2015,” he said. “Of course it is not a problem for us to move it three years earlier but there are technical issues which we have to deal with.”

Hmm… do those “technical issues” involve angry mobs storming parliament and setting fire to banks?

The draft pension bill allows retirees to draw a full pension after 37 years of contributions, three years less than set out in the bailout deal, but gives incentives for workers to work 40 years.

“We say yes to the age limit of 40 as mentioned in the memorandum and we respect it, but we somehow interpret it differently,” Loverdos told Mega TV late on Tuesday. “If it is not accepted, if the actuarial study does not convince, then we will adapt to the memorandum.”

That’s all well and good for now, but at a certain point, measurable in bailout dollars, the political balance for Greek leaders will shift in favor of reneging on this deal. If you’re going to default, default big.

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