Exit bogeyman

It’s about time the troika started packing its bags. I cannot be sure exactly when this will happen, but the safest bet would be by next summer. Pretty much everyone has started to realize that the troika model, as it were, has become counterproductive and politically damaging.

The Greece of today has nothing to do with the Greece of three years ago. A number of painful measures have helped to trim waste in the country’s health sector and contain spending on early or bogus pensions. Some people may find it hard to admit, but a number of rules have been introduced thanks to which Greece will gradually become a more “normal,” workable country – provided of course that our politicians leave their bad, partisan habits behind.

Those of our European peers who saw the troika as a tool to punish a sinful, corrupt country should be pleased by now. Insisting on the current policy mix has a sadistic quality but makes little sense financially. No people is willing to tolerate a humiliating policy based on threats alone.

The world’s key governments see that Greece is near breaking point. The Americans never miss a chance to remind their German partners, urging them to ease the country’s debt, to stop asking for fresh cuts and instead promote growth-inducing measures.

Similar calls are coming from China. When Greece’s membership of the euro area was at stake, Beijing helped to convince Berlin to keep Greece in.

Well-meaning foreign analysts see that on top of the social pressure, there is also pressure on the political system and public administration. Even the most progressive and efficient reformists have done as much as they can.

It’s too early to say what a troika exit would look like. The most plausible strategy would be for the IMF to leave after the debt issue has been solved. The European Commission could then undertake a supervisory role in the good-old European fashion that is a far cry from the troika extravaganza.

Also, on a practical level, Samaras could avoid the pain of having to sign a third memorandum. The end of the troika presence and the avoidance of a third memorandum would signal Greece’s return to normality and allow it to win back much of its credibility.

And then it would be a good time to start thinking what we can do next. Greece needs a lot of work to get back on a healthy track. Our politicians would no longer be able to use the troika as a bogeyman to scare voters into accepting things that are taken for granted in other parts of Europe. A collective moment of truth, as it were.