Is Greece really on the road to recovery?
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Six months ago I was in Athens standing in front of a TV camera on an exposed and very hot roof top overlooking the Greek parliament.

From sites like that across the capital hundreds of journalists were, like me, reporting live around the world on the possibility of Greece going to the wall within days, if not hours.

That would have meant a bankrupt banking system and almost certainly the forced ejection of Greece from the eurozone.

The government took the talks to the wire several times before agreeing to the terms of a bail out.

There were sighs of relief all round and then the story slowly but steadily retreated from the headlines.

Sell-offs start

Certainly the Greeks have had one great success - we are not all talking about how it will be broke by this time next week.

Despite a narrow majority in parliament and endless opposition from many groups the government is making a start in introducing the reforms that were the condition of that bailout.

Just this month, the left-wing government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to a set of reforms, including allowing Greek banks to sell bad business loans onto foreign buyers.

This will free up capital for the banks and was a condition for the release of the next €1bn (£727bn; $1.08bn) of the bailout.

Bitter reforms

Greece is committed to a whole host of privatisations and has been for years and yet somehow not many of them seem to happen, it is the kind of foot dragging that keeps the other members of the eurozone awake at night.

Other reforms are still stuck in the mud, made more difficult by a wafer-thin government majority in parliament.

The civil service pay structure is likely to be changed next year but the elephant in the room is Greece's pensions system. This is extremely complicated and expensive and yet reforming it is not only a condition of any further bailout but also political dynamite.

Monthly struggle

Economic growth in 2015 was originally predicted to be 2-2.5%. But in large part because of the decision of the Government to take those bailout talks to the wire, that has turned into a 2-2.5% contraction - a deep and painful recession.

Now the experts are predicting once again that the economy will return to growth in 2016, unless something else gets in the way; which is a distinct possibility.

Date: 2016-03-15
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