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A decade after the global financial crisis, Europe has largely recovered from the economic damage that forced five countries to seek bailouts. Greece, however, has a long way to go.

Expand chart
Data: World Bank national accounts data, and OECD National Accounts data files; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The big picture: Greece is set to graduate its third and final bailout package this month, an exit that will officially cap the largest sovereign debt restructuring in global history. Its creditors seem to believe that like the other hard-hit countries — Spain, Ireland, Cyprus and Portugal — Greece is now "capable of moving on its own two feet." But with an economy that continues to sputter after eight years of financial assistance, there's still reason to worry.

The European economies hit hardest by the financial crisis still carry the vestiges of their massive debts, to varying degrees. But the reforms they adopted, along with improved economic conditions, have started to help them see consecutive years of growth.

  • Spain: Driven by record exports and labor market reforms, Spain's economy surpassed its pre-crisis GDP in early 2017 and continues to grow at nearly twice the rate of the average euro country, per the IMF. But Spain still holds a government debt of nearly 100% of its GDP and the second-highest unemployment rate in the eurozone (15.3%).
  • Ireland: Its skyrocketing GDP is heavily skewed by "leprechaun economics," a term used to describe the tax inversion practices of corporations like Apple that base subsidiaries in Ireland. Nonetheless, the IMF views rising employment, subdued inflation and improved public finances as signs of a strong economic recovery, though uncertainty over Brexit poses a looming threat.
  • Portugal: Nearly 500,000 people emigrated from Portugal during the height of its financial crisis. But after exiting its $85.6 billion bailout program in 2014, Portugal's economy has returned to steady growth, buoyed by a spike in tourism.
  • Cyprus: The island of Cyprus was praised upon graduating its bailout in 2016 for sticking to the harsh economic reforms that came with its $10.9 billion package. The "austerity" policies, which included unpopular measures like raising taxes and slashing spending, seem to have paid dividends, as the Cypriot economy is projected by the IMF to grow by more than 4% in each of the next two years.

So where did Greece go wrong?

  • Reckless government spending, weak GDP growth, data mismanagement and rampant tax evasion dug Greece into a hole far greater than any of its debt-riddled partners.
  • After the crisis, Greece's three bailout packages totaled $360 billion, dwarfing every other debt restructuring program in history. The stringent austerity measures that followed crushed the Greek economy, causing GDP to shrink by 26% and unemployment to skyrocket to a peak of 27.9%.
  • The crisis revealed fundamental inefficiencies in the Greek economy that the country will be forced to reconcile. Bailout reforms have slashed jobs in the overinflated public sector and have driven small businesses, which comprise 95% of the private sector, to turn to exports to survive, according to Greece's deputy investment minister.

The bottom line: Europe as a whole is in a better place. But even if Greece undergoes an economic and cultural overhaul, it still faces an uphill climb along with the new challenges confronting all of Europe, including Brexit and strained trade relations with the U.S.

Go deeper

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with the Denver Broncos' quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.