Britain and the Greek Economic Crisis, 1944-1947: From Liberation to the Truman Doctrine

Britain and the Greek Economic Crisis, 1944-1947: From Liberation to the Truman Doctrine

Britain and the Greek Economic Crisis, 1944-1947: From Liberation to the Truman Doctrine

Britain and the Greek Economic Crisis, 1944-1947: From Liberation to the Truman Doctrine

Synopsis

Britain and the Greek Economic Crisis, 1944-1947 concentrates on Anglo-Greek interactions in economic matters during the political and economic turmoil between the Axis occupation of Greece and the Greek civil war. By analyzing the Greek crisis primarily in economic terms, Athanasios Lykogiannis avoids the political partisanship that has colored much previous writing on the subject and throws light on many issues neglected by earlier authors. Drawing on a range of untapped British, American, and Greek archival sources, as well as extensive secondary sources, the author examines the interplay of political and economic factors, such as the ingrained polarization of Greek society and the weakness and timidity of the country's governments, that aggravated and prolonged the crisis. Lykogiannis critically examines Greece's policies, and the actors behind them, and assesses the British involvement in the episode: the quality of the measures recommended to the Greeks, the constraints facing British advisers in the country, and the reasons for the ultimate failure of British intervention. He also compares the two periods of western tutelage of Greece: the British and the American, from the announcement of the Truman Doctrine to the inauguration of the European Recovery Program. Britain and the Greek Economic Crisis, 1944-1947 argues that even if the Germans were to blame for the conditions that led to hyperinflation, the mediocre results of successive attempts to stabilize the economy were caused by internal factors such as the fiscal ineptitude of the postwar Greek governments and their ignorance of, and hostility toward, any form of economic management. Whereas many have blamed foreign intervention for prolonging the crisis, Lykogiannis makes clear that the decisions of successive Greek governments were far more significant. His book demonstrates how firmly the crisis of post-liberation Greece was rooted in the country's political, economic, and social past.

Excerpt

In October 1944, after Greece's liberation from the German occupiers, the National Unity Government took power. It faced an inflationary crisis of a magnitude sufficient to tax the competence of any government. Although it could count on considerable assistance and advice from its Allies, much depended on Greece's own actions and its determination to restore economic normality. Success was meager, and by the time the British pulled out in the spring of 1947, economic stability remained elusive despite all the aid and advice. In the Greek case, political factors played a crucial role in shaping the attempts to stabilize the drachma and create a basis for long-term recovery, offering an excellent example that although hyperinflation and stabilization are essentially economic issues, political realities need to be appreciated in order to understand the particular course that both processes can take.

This book does not attempt to offer a definitive account of Greek history between 1944 and 1947, but seeks to contribute to a better understanding of this complex and troubled period by concentrating on Anglo-Greek interaction on economic matters. A vast body of literature has already dealt with the Greek crisis, most of which has concentrated solely on political developments. Such works, frequently reflecting the political stance of their authors, usually have sought to explain the course of events in terms of political motives and actions alone, with little emphasis on the dynamics of economic problems. Economic issues have thus tended to be pushed into the background. This book is a work of political history combining elements of economic history and international relations, and seeks to highlight economic issues by addressing four major questions. First, it places the developments of 1944— 1947, particularly the hyperinflation and the failed stabilization attempts, within the proper context of Greek economic history, as yet another episode of destitution and foreign tutelage in an underdeveloped country with chronic budgetary and balance of payments deficits. Second, it analyzes the interplay of economic and political factors that aggravated and prolonged the crisis: the extensive polarization of Greek society, and the weakness, timidity, and ineptitude of the country's governments. Third, it assesses British involvement in the episode: the quality of measures recommended to the Greeks, the constraints facing British advisers in the country, and the reasons for the ultimate failure of British intervention. Fourth, it seeks to contrast and compare the two periods of western tutelage of Greece: that of the . . .

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