Any way you look at it, the standoff between the nation of Greece and the leaders of the European Union is a mess. But it may not be quite the problem that the press is making it out to be.
In case you haven’t been following the story, the gist of it is that the Greek government, over a period of years that included the time it hosted the Summer Olympics, issued more bonds than, in retrospect, it could possibly pay back. The total debt outstanding peaked at somewhere around $340 billion, which is actually more than the $242 billion in goods and services that the entire Greek economy produces in a year. You’ve no doubt heard about a series of bailouts organized by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and other groups which have collectively extended loans and extensions amounting to $217 billion to date. As you can see from Figure 2, on the right-hand side, roughly $4 billion in payments are due in July and more than $3 billion in August, after which time the payment schedule becomes somewhat more forgiving through 2022.