A brief history of the Greek debt crisis

The Greek debt crisis has unfolded over several years and through a litany of bailouts, parliamentary votes, and credit downgrades. Here is a brief overview of how we got to where we stand today.

Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
People gather outside the parliament during an anti-austerity rally in Athens' Syntagma (Constitution) square on October 19. Greek unions begin a 48-hour general strike on Wednesday, the biggest protest in years, as parliament prepares to vote on sweeping new austerity measures designed to stave off a default that could trigger a crisis in the wider euro zone.

Warning signs

October 2009: Prime Minister George Papandreou comes into office, and soon after, substantially revises the country’s budget deficit projections, hinting that the government has been understating its deficit for several years.

December 2009: Concerns about Greece’s dangerously high debt prompt the Fitch credit rating agency to downgrade the country’s credit rating to BBB+, the lowest level in the eurozone, with expectations it could fall further. Moody and Standard & Poor’s warned that they, too, might downgrade its rating, according to a report from the Financial Times. A week later, Prime Minister George Papandreou begins efforts to rein in the country’s budget deficit, focusing on eliminating corruption and cutting public spending.

January 2010: Greece releases a three-year plan to cut its budget deficit from 12.7 percent of GDP to 2.8 percent. It fails to reassure investors, who see the plan as too optimistic.

February 2010: Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s say that Greece risks having its credit rating downgraded two notches.

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