Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks! And sell the Acropolis too! That was a headline in leading German tabloid Bild a few years ago, at the height of Greece's economic crisis. It was a message from a rather irritated big brother in Germany who had to back the entire European experiment, including its noisy and irresponsible neighbour in the south. South Africa isn't quite in the same position yet, but we are at the stage where the country has to look at its finest silver. With a growing debt bill that may soon threaten the state's ability to pay civil servants and a welfare bill that has about 17 million dependants, it's no wonder the Treasury is now seriously asking what we need and what we don't need - pragmatism before ideology.When the crisis in Greece was at its peak - sometime in 2011 - South Africa and other emerging- market nations such as Brazil and Turkey were in a sweet spot, enjoying a free ride with global investors. It was not their own doing, but on th...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now