This is the graduation speech I gave on receiving an honorary doctorate at the University of Athens Economics and Business School. I talk about my Greek family, about how I got interested in economics, and then how in the 1990s I came to think about default, collateral, and leverage as the central features of the ﬁnancial/macro economy, despite their complete absence (even now) from any textbooks. Finally I suggest that the Greek debt problem, and on a bigger scale, the American debt problem, can only be cured when lenders are prodded to forgive. That would be better for the borrowers but also for the lenders.
Geanakoplos, John, "Greek Debt and American Debt: Graduation Speech at the University of Athens Economics and Business School" (2011). Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers. 2194.