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In 2016 much of the world’s focus has been on turmoil in the Middle East, the rise of populist governments in the western world, and Brexit. While all of these massive movements have been taking place, one of the biggest economic stories of last year seems to be on the back burner for now, the Greek debt crisis. It wasn’t so long ago that Grexit was a much more real possibility than Brexit. With the overleveraging of almost every aspect of the Greek economy and the rise of a socialist government, many were worried that Greece would be the first southern European domino to fall in a rush of indebted countries leaving the European Union. Although things are quieter in Greece for now, things are still unsteady, and it is not definitive whether Greece will experience an economic resurgence or fall further.

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The last six years of economic crisis have taken a huge toll on Greece’s fishing industry, with fish being the country’s second largest agricultural export. Diminishing household buying power has stifled the demand for fish domestically; a problem that has been exacerbated by a weakened banking sector that is unable to provide sufficient cash to customers. Exporting fish to countries in a more stable economic position could revive this industry, yet even this solution is laden with problems.

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Greece's woes have been a well-publicized global topic over the past year. Between its staggering debt, its default on these debts, and discussion of its exile from the European Union, Greece has struggled with pulling its way through an web of economic troubles. There is, however, a glint of optimism for the country. On August 14th, Eurozone finance ministers approved Greece for a new bailout package, its third such deal in five years. The package was agreed upon after a half-year's worth of negotiations between Greece's government, the Eurozone, and the IMF. While not all Eurozone countries have yet given approval, the bailout is considered a relief for a situation that threatened to break the Eurozone apart. It is yet to be seen how it will affect Greece and the rest of the Eurozone in the long run.

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As the old adage goes “the only way to go is up after rock bottom,” Greece seems unable to stop pushing its economic limits. Despite its previous bailout programs designed jointly by the IMF, ECB, and European Commission, relief arrived coupled with harsh measures. Austerity packages were the fine print for Greece’s lending agreement; yet, unemployment has checked in at 25% this year, while most of the bailout money went toward settling international debt rather than jump-starting the economy. It is perhaps this ineffective past experience that has left Greece resentful toward the idea of another double-edged bailout measure, which is why Greece is currently celebrating its new-found and likely brief freedom from dependence on external problem solvers.

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Greece has been in constant negotiations with other European countries and institutions over Greece’s debt load, which if not resolved, can lead to another financial crisis. The European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are both creditors to Greece, and Greece is expected to repay the IMF nearly 750 million Euros on Tuesday, but the remainder of the debt repayments total nearly 12 billion Euros for the rest of the year. While Athens has authorized its treasury to make the loan payment to the IMF, Greece will continue having trouble making the upcoming payments unless the creditors agree to give more aid as a part of the 240 billion euro bailout program.

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Greece needs to follow European rules if it wants aid from the Eurozone during its financial crisis. The country owes other Eurozone governments around $212 billion. Germany is owed the most money, totaling over sixty million euros, followed by France and Italy. However, Slovenia may be the most impacted country by the Greek debt crisis.  Bloomberg determined that Greece owes Slovenia over 3% of its total GDP. Greece is on the bubble of a potential exit from the European Union, and a potential default on its debt.

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On February 19, the German government rejected Greece’s request for a 6 month extension to its Eurozone program. Germany had hoped that Greece would renew its existing deal that contains harsh austerity conditions, and a German Finance Ministry spokesman claimed that the proposed assistance package was “not a substantial proposal for a solution”. The Finance Minister himself, Wolfgang Schaeuble, stressed that no new payment of funds would be given to Greece until a new deal was made. Despite the Greek economy growing in all four quarters last year, it has been in recession for almost 6 years and must take measures to improve the condition of its economy.

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Ask and you shall receive. The Greek population decided it was time for a change in government and just last week, Greece elected and swore in its new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. The prime minister represents a leftist party and reflects the desire of the Greek people for reform just years after a major bailout. Tsipras ran his campaign based on the issue of renegotiating the ensuing debt that citizens have blamed for large increases in unemployment and a recession.

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In the European Union, some of the regional bloc's major powers are tightening their resistance against Greece's attempts to leave the Eurozone, although not at any cost. European leaders from Paris, Berlin, and Brussels have spent their time since the last Greek political crisis building firewalls against the financial toxins that hurled Europe into the crises, and their stiff line also reflects their confidence that the eurozone would survive a Greek exit. Therefore, coinciding with the euro hitting a 9-year low against the dollar this past Monday and other external factors threatening the eurozone, the EU is preparing itself to make any hard decisions necessary to avoid falling into another significant depression.

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Following six long years of recession, which reduced Greece's economy by a quarter of its size and rose unemployment to 28%, Greece is finally expected to stabilize and begin its economic comeback in 2014. A poll of 35 economists and strategists suggested an expected growth rate of 0.3% for the Greek economy, while analysts at the International Monetary Fund and European Union proposed a slightly more optimistic 0.6% rate.

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On Thursday, Greece held its first bond sale since 2010, raising $4.2 billion as investors flocked to secure bonds from the hard hit country. Greece, which stopped issuing bonds in 2010 amid their country’s economic crisis, has hailed this bond sale as a sign that the country is recovering and heading in the right direction. Investors seemed to agree with this outlook, as their high demand reduced the return rates on the bonds to 4.95%, lower than the Greek government had first anticipated. The optimism around the bond sale has encouraged some that Greece is finally beginning to emerge from the financial crisis, although it must be remembered that this is only a small step in the recovery.

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While the unemployment rate of Spain and Greece roaring extremely high these days and economies in the European Union rest down in the trough, good news has finally arrived from the Office of National Statistics. Recent statistics showed that the United Kingdom's economy grew 0.3% during the first quarter of 2013, which relieves the fear of the British economy falling into a triple-dip recession. Is this a sign that United Kingdom is getting itself out of the European Financial Crisis?

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European stocks have been struggling as Spain does not seem close to requesting a bailout soon. Spain’s debt and interest carrying costs are increasing at a rate much faster than the GDP, and it seems as though this trend will not slow down. Greece is in the same situation. Greece has incurred a lot of debt and is struggling to pay it back. Due to this, the country is in the process of securing a bailout. Both countries’ unemployment rates have risen above twenty percent, and the Eurozone in general has a combined unemployment rate of 11.4%. Talks that France is going to be next have many people worried and these worries can only lead to more problems.

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Quite frankly, one involved in business would have to be living in a cave in the middle of nowhere to not be aware of Europe’s debt problems of late. There are numerous theories for how to solve this problem ranging from European Fiscal Unions and bail-out funds to thousands of different austerity measures and the fabled Grexit. Sadly, none of these theoretically viable plans have come to fruition. However, Greece has an idea that is rather unusual but could possibly solve their own debt problems (by far the worse in the EU): unpaid World War II reparations.

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There is no question that Greece has had some financial struggles lately, particularly in the tourism industry. Greece has so many beautiful attractions that a large part of its economy has relied on tourism for several years. One in five jobs in Greece come from the tourism industry, so when revenue in this sector fell by 15% this past year the economic situation began to look even more grim. 

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What is one to do when their country pushes austerity measures on citizens who are already being hurt by an economic recession? One way is to simply exchange your unused jewelry and gold at pawnshops and gold dealers for much needed cash. This simple business transaction becomes very popular as countries struggle through slow economic environments. One country that has seen a massive increase it these business outfits is Greece.

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In the business world, sports may be best recognized for the many benefits they offer to individual businesses such as sponsorships, brand building, venues for advertisement, and marketing opportunities. However, sports also have major impacts on economies all around the world. It’s no surprise that international sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympics greatly affect the economies of host countries. These economic effects can be positive or negative and can have implications not only on a regional level but a global level as well.

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Traditionally free trade agreements and their kin are the principle agents of more competitive, efficient, and economically viable countries. However, people often look at the overall effect of FTA’s in their questioning for whether or not FTA’s should be implemented. The smaller country is usually considered the major benefactor after an FTA is implemented, but what happens when the opposite happens? There is an obvious, glaring example that is often overlooked, I myself just stumbled upon it a few days ago. Looking at Europe currently, you have the PIIGS, the countries that seem to be on the fast track to nowhere, and the rest of the Union. The idea behind the Union was that the economies could build on each other and raise the smaller less developed countries to the same standard as the U.K., France and Germany. Did this actually happen though?

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Yesterday the Euro hit a four-year low against the dollar. The euro fell to $1.2237 in early trading on Monday and actually fell slightly below $1.22 today. Investors fear that the austerity measures being put in place in many of the eurozone countries will hinder growth. Low growth would also mean low interest rates, so holding the currency would bring about poor returns. A lot of these measures stem from Europe's debt problems, and specifically Greece's recent troubles. This is very ironic because of the fact that their troubles may actually stem from the euro.

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Greece has made top headlines across the world recently as a result of significant financial problems. Similar to what has happened across the globe, the government is yet another victim of the difficult financial times. What has caused this problem? What events led up to it? How do the events in Greece impact you and your international business?