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European Institute
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Plenary Sessions

All lectures took place at the Wolfson Theatre (New Academic Building, LSE) and were open to the public (non-participants). The purpose of these lectures was to allow the exchange of ideas between young researchers and scholars on issues related to Greece and Cyprus. We are extremely grateful to the A.G. Leventis Foundation, for  its generous support.

Plenary Session I: "The Emergence of the Far-Right in Greece in the Context of the Socio-Economic Crisis"

Lecture 1
Speaker: Professor Nicos Christodoulakis (Professor of Economic Analysis,  Athens University of Economics and Business)
Chair: Professor Achilleas Mitsos (Professor of International Economic Relations, University of the Aegean)
Date: Thursday 4 June 2015
Time: 09:15 - 10:45
Venue: Wolfson Theatre (NAB LG.01), New Academic Building, LSE

The study (conducted by Nicos Christodoulakis, Costas Roumanias and Spyros Skouras) develops a quantitative framework to examine the steep rise of the ‘Golden Dawn’ party (XA) in Greece after 2009 in relation to the deterioration of socio-economic conditions, the immigration flux and the vast rise in unemployment. Using election results and opinion polls, the voting robustness and geographical homogeneity of XA is analysed and compared with mainstream political parties in Greece. Then a regional database is set up, including demographics, unemployment, and economic distress data at municipality level, which are subsequently used to explain the electoral rise of XA in the polls between 2009 and 2014. To test the nationalist-root theory in explaining the rise of XA, historical far-right voting records are also examined. Though they are found to offer an electoral reservoir, this is only gradually exploited by XA in tandem with the deterioration of socio-economic factors.

Plenary Session II: “The External Dimension of the Greek Economic Crisis”

Lecture 2
Speaker: Professor Manolis Galenianos (Professor of Economics, Royal Holloway, University of London)
Chair: Dr. Vassilis Monastiriotis (Associate Professor in the Political Economy of South Eastern Europe, Hellenic Observatory, LSE)
Date: Thursday 4 June 2015
Time: 14:00 - 15:30
Venue: Wolfson Theatre (NAB LG.01), New Academic Building, LSE

1. The origins of the Greek crisis

The conventional wisdom is that the Greek and Eurozone crises are the result of fiscal profligacy, which has justified austerity as the primary policy to exit the crisis. This interpretation of the crisis fits the case of Greece and, to a lesser extent, Portugal, but cannot explain why Ireland and Spain had to request assistance, given that prior to 2008 they had lower deficits and public debt than most Eurozone countries. The features that set the four peripheral countries apart from the rest of the Eurozone are the large external deficits they all experienced before 2008. This observation suggests that the origins of the Eurozone crisis are to be found in external rather than fiscal imbalances. The implication is that the exclusive policy focus on reducing fiscal deficits is misguided and the four peripheral countries should be helped to reduce external deficits by recovering competitiveness.

 2. The challenge of trade adjustment in Greece (with Costas Arkolakis and Aristos Doxiadis)

Greece’s trade deficit declined by 10% of GDP between 2007 and 2012, removing one of the great economic imbalances of the pre-crisis years. However, this reduction was achieved exclusively through import compression while exports fell over that period, thereby worsening the economic crisis. Greece’s export underperformance is studied in comparison to Ireland, Portugal and Spain as well as Greece’s own pre-crisis experience. The main findings are that (1) given past performance, Greece’s exports should have increased by 25%, rather than drop by 5% between 2007 and 2012; (2) labor markets have adjusted to the new economic environment; (3) product markets did not adjust, hindering the recovery of competitiveness; (4) export underperformance is responsible for a third of the decline in GDP since 2007. The business environment and firm size distribution in Greece are also hindering the necessary adjustment.

Plenary Session III: "How to Write a PhD (on Greece)"

Lecture 3
Speaker: Professor Kevin Featherstone (Eleftherios Venizelos Professor of Contemporary Greek Studies and Professor of European Politics; Director, Hellenic Observatory, LSE)
Chair: -
Date: Friday 5 June 2015
Time: 10:30 - 11:45
Venue: Wolfson Theatre (NAB LG.01), New Academic Building, LSE

This session will discuss both generic issues of developing, designing, and writing a PhD, as well as the specific challenges of writing a PhD thesis on Greece (or Cyprus).  It will offer guidance to those starting a PhD and to those about to finish writing a PhD thesis.  Topics to be covered will include:

• What is a research ‘puzzle’?

• Developing your research question (and hypotheses).

  • Why? What? How? questions

• The challenges of single country or comparative case studies.

• Framing your questions and evidence.

  • ‘Testing’ hypotheses and refutability.
  • Alternatives: critical theory.
  • Finding and using source material.

• What’s new?  Specifying your contribution.

• Who would disagree?  Positioning yourself in scholarly debates.

• How to get published.

• How to apply for PhD places and scholarships.

Professor Featherstone has the experience of supervising over 30 PhD candidates; being responsible for PhD admissions in the LSE’s European Institute; and having examined numerous PhD theses.