Student Spotlight – Michael Giacoumopoulos '14
Major/minor: Political Science & Philosophy
Expected date of graduation: Spring 2014
Hometown: Easton, Pa.
SOAR project title: The Political Economy of Austerity: A Case Study of Greece
SOAR project advisor: Gary Olson
Although Michael Giacoumopoulos’ 2013 SOAR project tackled a subject matter a world away from Bethlehem, he concern the topic quite personal.
Over course of the summer, Michael examined the political, economic and social consequences of the depression in Greece, as well as the nation’s continued destruction via the crippling neo-liberal austerity measures imposed upon by the Troika and international lenders.
“As a fellow Greek, I have a personal interest in examining the status of my country and contribute in some way to its future,” he explains.
Michael reasons that Greece stands on the “precipice of calamity” and will set the world stage for the continued efforts of neo-liberalism and economic downfall unless steps are taken to ensure the safety and security of its welfare state and working class.
In addition to its current conditions, Michael also looked to the past, exploring Greece's economic history, as well as its place amongst the European Union and Eurozone. “By understanding the damage done by neo-liberalism, we can move toward more helpful alternatives,” he adds.
The results of his research were eye-opening, chronicling that Greece suffers from “extreme amounts of corruption within every level of its infrastructure.” This truth has contributed to “a political and social climate rife with underhanded dealings and political maneuverings that have robbed the economy, removed social programs, and dismantled the working class,” Michael concludes.
Michael’s research determines that austerity has crippled Greece and served only to funnel money toward lenders and banks rather than toward the failing economy and the Greek people. Instead of pursuing the Troika's austerity, his research has shown that better alternatives exist in Keynesian and Leftist solutions that reject the neo-liberal platform.
“One such model I discovered was practiced in Iceland which suffered the most from the worldwide recession of 2008 and yet is recovering quickly due to a rejection of austerity, the persecution of corrupt banking practices, and a widespread investment in its people and infrastructure,” he says.
Michael continues to build upon his findings, working on an Honors thesis with his advisor, Gary Olson, professor of political science. “I believe my research on Greece has set a promising foundation to build upon and expand for future studies,” he explains.
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