Did the Greek bailout money go to ‘liquor and women’?

I’m just following up here on some comments I made Thursday about Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s intervention on liquor and women given the EU’s 60th anniversary celebration today.

Greece underwent a debt restructuring, not a bailout. The difference between a bailout and a debt restructuring goes to the question: where did the money go? And because Dijsselbloem made the analogy about ‘liquor and women’ when talking about solidarity, it seemed like he was just giving voice to a stereotype of the ‘profligate’ south – derisively dubbed the PIGS – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. Here’s the quote:

“As a social democrat, I think solidarity is extremely important. But whoever makes that appeal, also has responsibilities. I can’t spend all my money on liquor and women and afterwards expect your support.”

The only way to interpret this sequence of comments is that Dijsselbloem intended to connect north-south solidarity with responsibility, and then used an analogy about someone spending money on booze and hookers and expecting support as a negative example of not taking that responsibility seriously. If your Spanish, how would you interpret this?

A white paper published by two German researchers, Joerg Rocholl and Axel Stahmer, answers the question ‘Where did the money go?’ Here are the figures:

Here is a link to the full white paper. I latched on to it via an article from the German newspaper Handelsblatt. It’s a good synopsis. Read it!

Less than 5% of the money was used for a ‘bailout’ – Greek households, whereas fully two-thirds of the money was used for debt repayment and interest to creditors. Solidarity indeed!

My view: It is tragic that this ‘liquor and women’ quote is the discussion dominating headlines as the EU celebrates the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

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