The financial crisis still haunting Greece

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People don’t forget when banks and governments mismanage their money.

I’m in Greece for a few days and have been blown away by how many people are still talking about the Greek financial crisis. As a reminder, Greece suffered the longest recession of any modern capitalistic society starting in 2009. The crisis was started by the Great Recession and exposed structural weaknesses in the Greek economy. To add fuel to the fire, it became publicly known that Greece’s government had previously underreported their sovereign debt and deficit levels.

As the economy spiraled out of control, the government initiated 12 rounds of tax increases and spending cuts. None of this policy prevented the country from having to receive three separate bail out loans from 2010 to 2015, along with a 50% reduction in debt that was owed to private banks. The entire situation could be summed up with a single sentence — Greece was in trouble for a long time and the citizens of the country suffered as a result.

Each person I’ve talked with during this trip has found a way to bring up the financial ineptitude at some point. They blame the crisis for their inability to find high-paying jobs, for their family members moving abroad, for the inflow of immigrants, or for the “bad economy.” It almost doesn’t matter if these people are right or not. This is how they genuinely feel.

These conversations remind me of something Jim Grant said about central banks: “They are the arsonist, but they get to pretend they are the firemen.” In other words, it is likely that the Greek government’s actions, both before and after the Great Recession, actually intensified the financial crisis, rather than improved it. While this is not a new concept, it feels like people around the world are waking up to this prospect.

I wish I could tell you that the same people complaining about the impact of the financial crisis were boasting about the benefits of Bitcoin — they weren’t though. Each person I’ve talked with confirmed that they have heard of Bitcoin but were relatively unaware of (1) what it is and/or (2) what the benefits are. The fact that no one was educated and enthusiastic is actually a bullish sign to me.

As more people get educated, more people will be drawn to Bitcoin. They will ultimately choose to trust software and math over humans. This is not a matter of “if,” but rather “when.” For those of us that are interested in accelerating the adoption of Bitcoin, the task is simple: Do what you can to educate the people around you.

Knowledge is power and people are tired of watching banks and governments mismanage their wealth.


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