Adjustment Programs in Euro Countries: Why Ireland Succeeded While Greece Failed

133 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2015 Last revised: 7 Dec 2015

See all articles by Abel M. Mateus

Abel M. Mateus

University College of London (UCL)

Date Written: October 15, 2015


At the close of the global financial crises, Greece, Ireland and Portugal, and later Spain, experienced severe economic and financial crises. This paper compares the adjustment programs undertaken by the four countries. The sudden-stop of capital flows led to substantial official assistance by the EU, ECB and IMF estimated at 1.4 Trillion Euros which demonstrated the solidarity among EU countries. The crises established other records: Ireland had one of the costliest banking crises and Greece a depression. We will discuss which factors – program design, structure of the economy, institutional and political capabilities and Government implementation capacity – contributed to the success of Ireland and the difficulties of Greece, with intermediate cases like Portugal and Spain. Contrary to a number of economists, the adjustment programs in these countries were largely in accordance with previous programs or with overall IMF experience, except for Greece. We discuss why this was a special case and the factors that contributed to the failure of the previous two adjustment programs. The lessons drawn for the future are in sharp contrast with most “official” reports, by emphasizing the role of “common factors” versus idiosyncratic factors in the Euro zone, problems caused by procrastination in adopting the programs, lack of program ownership, the difficulties of simultaneous contractionary policies of the core, the importance of expectations formation and the role of targeted credit policies. We also criticize the lack of substantive supply policies, like innovation and resource switching policies that could have speeded-up adjustment and mitigated the impact on potential growth.

Keywords: Euro, Macroeconomics, Financial crisis, Banking Crisis, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Fiscal Policy

JEL Classification: E5, E6, H6

Suggested Citation

Mateus, Abel M., Adjustment Programs in Euro Countries: Why Ireland Succeeded While Greece Failed (October 15, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Abel M. Mateus (Contact Author)

University College of London (UCL) ( email )

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