Tsetsekos watches Greek debt crisis from West Philadelphia offices

Few follow the debt crisis in Greece with as much interest as the dean of Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business.

George P. Tsetsekos, a native of Greece, sounded a bit dismayed at the tone of the rhetoric being used within the 16-nation euro zone over the possible default of his homeland.

Not that Tsetsekos thinks Greece will default. He’s confident there will be a solution. His prescription is for the European Union, with help from the European Central Bank, to set up a mechanism to provide short-term financing support for countries that need to roll over their debt or finance public deficits.

However, while there’s been a lot of talk of possible solutions, Tsetsekos said, “Nobody is taking action.”

It points up a key difference between the United States of America and what has been billed as the United States of Europe.

“The EU is a younger alliance of nations. They never anticipated this crisis and never devised the mechanisms to address one,” said Tsetsekos, who’s been top dragon at Drexel’s business school since 2001.

The EU is getting a crash course now with the future of its 11-year-old currency in the balance. The euro has fallen about 5 percent against the U.S. dollar and 9 percent against the yen in 2010.

Tsetsekos said he thinks that Greece and other newer members of the euro zone had different priorities for joining than the richer Germany and France. The former were seeking political stability, while the latter sought economic benefits.

But he certainly doesn’t excuse Greece for its “perennial habits” of running public deficits nearly 20 years after joining the European Union.

“I feel that my fellow Greeks have not followed the guidelines presented to them on one hand,” he said. “But they may have misunderstood the benefits of being part of the EU.”

On March 16, Greece must show EU finance ministers that it’s made progress cutting its budget deficit from 12.7 percent of gross domestic product to 8.7 percent.

The world, and Tsetsekos in West Philadelphia, will be watching.


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