‘Yes’ on Greek Referendum Is Vote for Depression, Stiglitz Says

Greeks who vote “yes” on Sunday’s referendum called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are signing up for years of economic malaise, Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz said.

The vote, which leaders in Berlin and Paris have labeled a decision on remaining in the euro, will allow Greeks to either support or reject an aid package offered by Greece’s creditors.

“A ‘yes’ vote is a vote for depression,” the Columbia University professor and former World Bank chief economist said in a telephone interview Tuesday, referring to a budget-surplus requirement that would require years of austerity. “To me, that’s pretty terrible.”

That and other “disastrous provisions” make the proposal a bad deal for Greece, said Stiglitz, a longtime critic of austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund. A “no” vote “doesn’t mean that Greece leaves the euro. What it says is, ‘Your last offer is not acceptable.’”

Tsipras said during his address on Saturday calling for the referendum that the new proposals highlight the IMF’s “insistence on harsh and punitive austerity measures,” and call for “strict and humiliating austerity without end.” Among other aspects of the program, he cited pension cuts, an increased tax on food, restaurants and tourism, and reductions in public-sector wages.

If Greeks vote to reject the measure, “all it says to Europe is: ‘This is the reality. Our citizens will not accept another three, four, five years of depression,’” Stiglitz said. “They want hope.”

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