The horrific forest fires near Athens, with terrible loss of life, have led to claims that the austerity measures imposed on Greece by the troika damaged the capacity of the Greek fire-protection services. Part of the blame for the horrific deaths and property damage in the Greek fire tragedy is therefore to be borne by the troika.
Is this true? It is a complex question which, I understand, is to be part of a formal investigation. That is right and proper. A crucial issue is clearly to what extent decisions on the mix of fiscal measures, for a given amount of fiscal consolidation, were taken by the Greek authorities or the troika. But given that the claim of troika responsibility is already circulating in the media, it is worth looking at the data that are currently available. Eurostat has detailed breakdowns of public spending data that can shed at least some light on the question.* [Read more…]