Giorgos Stathakis, an MP and top SYRIZA economist has returned from many SYRIZA supporters view as the belly of the beast: a conference hosted by the IMF and the World Bank.
Specifically Mr Stathakis participated in the Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group in Washington, DC over the weekend.
During the event Mr Stathakis had contact with numerous individuals from the world of international finance and attempted to convince them of the workability of SYRIZA’s anti-austerity economic platform. While some were decidedly skeptical, others were reportedly more positive, reflecting the division of opinions that exists among financial analysts regarding the history and future of the austerity program implemented in Greece.
Significantly however, one fact to emerge from the conference will give SYRIZA an added boost: the fact that in international finance circles it is considered almost certain that Alexis Tsipras will be the next Greek prime minister.
Mr Stathakis reportedly met with representatives from large banks and investment funds, also meeting with a top economist from the World Bank. However he did not meet with any representative from the IMF.
Mr Stathakis told TheTOC.gr that he met with several individuals who were at least in partial agreement with SYRIZA’s positions regarding the memorandum, the debt and the country’s prospects of growth, with many appreciating that Greece cannot withstand further austerity.
At the same time others were more skeptical or downright hostile, although significantly Mr Stathakis was not asked once whether SYRIZA was considering ditching the euro and returning to the drachma, a fact which appears to indicate that SYRIZA’s support of the euro is no longer questioned in international financial circles.
The speech given to the conference Mr Stathakis was structured along two on two basic lines: a harsh critique of the Memorandum program on the one hand, and a presentation of SYRIZA’s economic proposals on the other.
With regards to the debt Mr Stathakis said that, “in the impending renegotiation of the lending agreements by a SYRIZA government, in practice the issue of a reduction of the Greek debt by at least 50% will be put on the table and the repayment of the remaining portion on the condition of economic growth, given that it is impossible for Greece to pay 9 billion euros on average every year, regardless of the trajectory of its economy.”
Mr Stathakis meanwhile maintained that Greece’s austerity program had ‘failed resoundingly’ as it was too “frontloaded and extensive for Greece’s economy to be able to withstand the shock of the enormous fiscal adjustment.”
Meanwhile with regards to the government’s current plan to seek an early exit from the Memorandum, Mr Stathakis expressed his belief that Greece will not emerge from IMF economic surveillance any time soon.
He also stated that the consensus among the attendees of the World Bank conference was that the government will not succeed in obtaining the supermajority of MPs required to elect a new president in February, meaning that early elections will be triggered which SYRIZA will most likely win.