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David Perlmutter

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One of the craziest things about the situation in Greece is how far out of control things has gotten. This illustration from a Danish news site (see below) illustrates this well. 

Between 2010 and 2014, Greece borrowed €226 billion to fix their economy, and in any sane world that would mean using that money to boost the economy. So what happened to all that money?

Well, the answer is that it was mainly borrowed to pay off debt interest, fees, private creditor payments, and to bail out Greek banks for their mismanagement of investments and risk. Only 11% was spent on the actual Greek people. Out of all the money they borrowed, a staggering 55% was spent just paying off debt for money borrowed earlier. A further 19% was spent on bailing out their own banks, and 14% was spent on trying to convince private lenders to give up on some of their debt paybacks. 

You don't have to be much of an economist to realist the insanity of this. If you have to borrow money to pay off the interests of money you borrowed earlier, things are going to shit pretty quickly.

In comparison, in the US only has to pay 6% of its budget on debt interests. That is a huge number by itself since that is 3 times as much as they spend on things like education. But compared to Greece, it's child's play.

So when Greece says that they have borrowed more money than they can pay back, they are actually completely right about that. They very much have, to an extreme extend.

Greece will never return from its current state of depression with this much money being locked in debt/bank/credit payments, especially not now with unemployment rates being 24%, and their economic output being so incredibly low.

I already wrote another post about what I think should be done to save this. We need to put the debt payments on hold (at zero interests) for enough time for Greece to rebuild and reenergize itself:

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Many of you are reading this post while living in a city. And you can probably think of a ton of ways you’d like your city to be better—more affordable housing, better public transport, less pollution, more parks and green spaces, safer biking paths, a shorter commute... the list goes on!

Many cities around the world have already made a lot of progress in some of these areas—for instance, developing dashboards to measure and visualize traffic patterns, and building tools that let residents instantly evaluate and provide feedback on city services. But a lot of urban challenges are interrelated—for example, availability of transportation affects where people choose to live, which affects housing prices, which affects quality of life. So it helps to start from first principles and get a big-picture view of the many factors that affect city life. Then, you can develop the technologies and partnerships you need to make a difference.

So I’m very excited about +Sidewalk Labs​, a new company we’ve announced today. (The press release is at if you want to read more).  Sidewalk will focus on improving city life for everyone by developing and incubating urban technologies to address issues like cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage. The company will be led by Dan Doctoroff, former CEO of Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor of Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York. Every time I talk with Dan I feel an amazing sense of opportunity because of all the ways technology can help transform cities to be more livable, flexible and vibrant.  I want to thank +Adrian who helped to bring Dan on board.

While this is a relatively modest investment and very different from Google's core business, it’s an area where I hope we can really improve people’s lives, similar to Google[x] and Calico. Making long-term, 10X bets like this is hard for most companies to do, but Sergey and I have always believed that it’s important. And as more and more people around the world live, work and settle in cities, the opportunities for improving our urban environments are endless. Now it’s time to hit the streets and get to work!
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