Greece's Math Problem

Greeks love to spend, but businessmen say the country's new austerity program is long overdue

Petros Giannakouris / AP

Angry firefighters protest planned spending cuts outside Parliament on Jan. 29

On the Thursday 10 days before lent begins, Greeks turn out in droves to stuff themselves with grilled meat before the 40-day fast. It's known as Tsiknopempti, literally "Barbecue Thursday." With their country at the center of a debt crisis that has world markets on edge and has cast a shadow over the long-term viability of the euro, Greeks this year must have felt as if they were the ones on the grill.

Decades of overindulgent public spending have finally caught up with Greece, which, at $338 billion, is one of the smallest of the European Union's economies but has some...

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