Charlemagne: The euro’s hellhound

IN GREEK mythology, Cerberus is the three-headed dog guarding the gates to Hades. In modern Greek politics, the troika is the three-headed monster that traps the country in an economic underworld. At the finance ministry in Athens, even the cleaning ladies shout “murderers” at visiting members of the troika. In Lisbon protest banners declare “Fuck the troika”. There is now a popular Portuguese neologism, entroikado, roughly meaning “economically screwed”.As guardian of the creditors, the troika was never going to be loved. The trio of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank was improvised at the time of the first Greek bail-out in May 2010. It has since been at the heart of other rescues, of Ireland, Portugal and, most recently, Cyprus. Increasingly, its role is being questioned. Is the monster ripping too much living flesh from the countries it is supposed to be saving? And who controls the beast anyway?The European Parliament has begun an inquiry into the troika’s workings. MEPs have been visiting bailed-out countries and have summoned troika officials for a grilling. Socialists accuse the…

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