In Greece, the system exists to be gamed. Numbers are never solid there. Budgets are mere suggestions. Reform, then, was never going to be easy. Too many players have too much at stake to let old relationships, which rob public coffers but keep many comfortable and in power, break up without a fight.
The New York Times today has the story of Diomidis Spinellis, a computer scientist who interrupted his career in 2009 to help the government generate better economic data. He quit in disgust last September and went back to academia. The government, he says, just wasn’t interested in seeing his numbers.
The power of entrenched Greek interests to slow reform could prove crippling as the country tries to inch out from beneath its debts. Worth listening to on the subject is This American Life’s Planet Money team, which devoted an episode the European fiscal crisis last month.