In assessing national economic performance, everything is relative. If you compare Greece to Sweden or the United States or Australia, it’s a poor basketcase. But Greece is much richer than Mexico and staggeringly richer than a place like China, which in turn is much richer than India. Indeed, as countries like China and Brazil look to make the push out of the fabled “middle-income trap,” they look to Greece as one of the success stories, a relatively rare example of a country that managed to ride catch-up growth close to the top.
Something to recall here is that it’s easy to sit in an Anglophone or Nordic country and sneer at the “dysfunctional” state of the Greek or Mexican public sector. But globally and historically, endemic corruption is much more common than the alternative. Working your way up to a Greek level of competence and prosperity is actually pretty impressive.