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Journal Article

Puzzled out? The unsurprising outcomes of the Greek bailout negotiations


Moutselos,  Michalis
Socio-Cultural Diversity, MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Max Planck Society;

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Moutselos, M., Lim, D. J., & McKenna, M. (2019). Puzzled out? The unsurprising outcomes of the Greek bailout negotiations. Journal of European Public Policy, 26(3), 325-343. doi:10.1080/13501763.2018.1450890.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-EAC6-4
While to date the Eurozone debt crisis is one of the most important and consequential events in world politics of the twenty-first century, the actions taken by states to negotiate a cooperative resolution do not seem particularly puzzling. In this article, we employ the analytic explanation approach to process tracing to test whether the most protracted and high-profile case – negotiations between creditors led by Germany, and Greece as debtor state – indeed validate three central hypotheses of basic cooperation theory regarding the sources of bargaining strength. We conclude that while bargaining leverage did emerge primarily from the ability to withstand non-agreement, the weaker Greece was able to achieve marginal concessions reflecting terms that departed from Germany’s initial win-set. This leverage stemmed however not from a threat based on domestic political constraints, but from the realization that Greece’s structural economic weakness rendered the strictest austerity measures untenable. The policy implication is that the credibility of the weaker side’s negotiating signal arose not from domestic politics, but the impartial assessments of international technocrats and private rating agencies.