The Greek Financial Crisis

These are some of my favorite YouTube video producers, and they recently just made a really great explainer about the Greek crisis and how the situation got to be so bad. For the record, I’m not pretending to be super knowledgeable about this, but I have been following it on and off.

One of the more interesting comments he makes during the video is how for the past ten years the Greek government has been mis-reporting their financial situation. And when a new party would take over, they would make a really big fuss about how the previous administration was lying, only to continue the cycle themselves. (Remember – just going off the video – I haven’t researched this too much).

It is worth thinking a little about the role of [lack of] government transparency in this situation. This may or not be related, and may not be the core of the problem at all, but I’m willing to posit that it was a factor.

If it was the responsibility of the Greek Government to report all the numbers related to budgeting, debt, and deficit to the public fully and in a machine readable format, I can’t help but wonder if this situation could’ve been avoided, or at least lessened. I’m guessing the Greek Government would continually report aggregated statistics with no way to reproduce the results. The further you get from the raw data, the more room there is for mistakes and manipulation – malicious or not.

However, I’ll also point out that government transparency is only half the game. The other part would’ve been on citizens, reporters, watchdog groups and other EU members to take this data, analyze it independently and provide the analysis in a reproducible format. This way it’s not just data without the insights, but rather something actionable, credible and reproducible.

Just thoughts and a rant. I read the Economist and I watch the news, but I’m no expert so don’t listen to me.

On a much lighter note, (at least as light as the Greek financial situation can be) here’s another great video about the crisis, but this time with some rapping involved: