Greece first cooked its books to enter the Eurozone, then used cheap credit to live beyond its means. A profligate pact by the Greek government and the Greek people expanded the state and ran up deficits and debt. With a budget deficit of more than 15% of GDP and government debt of more than 126% of GDP, Greece is one of the most indebted countries in the world. Tax evasion is rampant.
In order to receive further loans – on which Greece seems to be hooked like an addict – the Greek government has reluctantly promised some austerity measures and economic reforms. Except for some cuts and tax rises, the reforms have mostly been empty promises so far. Oddly, Greeks still think that none of this is their fault and that austerity is not necessary. Because of this, attending one of the many strikes is much preferred over working on reforming the country, as is blaming the EU, the IMF and Germany in particular.
The Greek Finance Minister, Evangelos Venizelos, perfectly personifies the Greek attitude to austerity.