Greece's Debt Crisis: Overview, Policy Responses, and Implications [August 18, 2011] [open pdf - 461KB]
"Since early 2010, the Eurozone has been facing a major debt crisis. The governments of several countries in the Eurozone have accumulated what many consider to be unsustainable levels of government debt, and three--Greece, Ireland, and Portugal--have turned to other European countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loans in order to avoid defaulting on their debt. The crisis now threatens to spread to Italy and Spain, respectively the third and fourth largest economies in the Eurozone. Greece has been at the center of the Eurozone debt crisis. It has the highest levels of public debt in the Eurozone, and one of the biggest budget deficits. Greece was the first Eurozone member to come under intense market pressures and the first to turn to other Eurozone member states and the IMF for financial assistance. Over the past year, the IMF, European officials, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the Greek government have undertaken substantial crisis response measures. At the behest of European leaders in July 2011, holders of Greek bonds have also indicated that they will accept losses on their investments to alleviate Greece's debt payments in the short-run. If these plans are carried out, Greece will be the first advanced economy to default in almost half a century. […] This report explains the causes of the crisis, the policy responses to the crisis, and assesses crisis response measures to date. It also highlights the implications of the Greek crisis for the broader Eurozone debt crisis and EU integration. It concludes with an analysis of issues of particular interest to Congress, including the impact of the Greek debt crisis on the U.S. economy, the exposure of U.S. banks to Greece and other distressed Eurozone economies, and IMF involvement in the crisis."
CRS Report for Congress, R41167