Pretty damning stuff. Those that smugly, glibly, heartlessly, self interestedly , and ignorantly witter and astroturf about Greece needing to do X Y and Z might want to read this. But then that might challenge the closeness of their minds.
Below the concluding paragraphs..
We may not like the conclusion, but it is quite simple. Greece has not grown and prices have fallen because that was to be expected when persistent austerity is laid on top of an unsustainable debt. The debt-deflation spiral always outpaces the returns from structural reforms. As certainly as these things can be predicted, on the path set out by the creditors, the stakes will continue to be escalated: the debt-to-GDP ratio will continue to rise, the calls for more austerity will grow, and, as the pattern repeats, more debt relief will needed.
So we arrive to the present. The IMF looks back at its diagnosis in November 2012 and says, the Greeks did not follow our advice; it is no surprise that they are in a mess and they need more debt relief. The truth is that the Greeks are in a mess precisely because they followed the IMF’s austerity advice and because the promised elixir of structural reforms was illusory.
And the double indignity is that the IMF now wants the Greeks to do more austerity in the midst of a debt-deflation cycle because it chooses to misread the evidence of the past years. If that advice is, in fact, followed, it is nearly certain that the Greek debt burden will be greater in two years than it is now.
We may cast a moral and political spin on these facts. Indeed, it is understandable that political considerations will play a central role in the European dialogue. But the economic logic is relentless. And the IMF’s role—its only role—is to render the economic logic transparent for informed decision making. In disregard of generations of fine IMF economists and research, the IMF has engaged in its own moral posturing to retrieve its money and hide its failures.
To be clear, the argument is not that more debt relief be promised in exchange for more austerity now. The argument is that debt relief is needed now to prevent the need for even more debt relief later. It is as much in the creditors’ interest to change course as it is in the Greek interest. Once that premise is accepted, then within that basic framework there is much that the Greeks can do to improve their lot. But such is the momentum, the politics will almost surely subordinate the economic logic. That would be a mistake. At what is surely a pivotal moment in European and global history, at least the facts must be laid out transparently.