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Greece's debt crisis: Was the eurozone bluffing?

So what comes next in Greece? Well, we find out whether Europe was bluffing.

One way to read the drama of the past few months is that it was the endgame for Greece and the eurozone. The eurozone's powers-that-be gave Greece their final offer, Greece rejected it, and now the European Central Bank will force Greece out of the eurozone and try to grind the country into dust.

But the other possibility is that it was a bluff: The eurozone's powers-that-be wanted to topple Syriza, they saw the referendum as a way to do that, and that's why they did everything in their power to persuade the Greek people that voting "no" on the deal was akin to voting "no" on continued membership in the eurozone. They wanted to scare Greek voters into voting "yes" and, in doing so, rejecting Syriza.

But they failed. The Greek people voted "no" anyway. On some level, though, Syriza listened. They got rid of Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, whom the eurozone's key negotiators loathed ("I shall wear the creditors' loathing with pride," Varoufakis said in his resignation). That's something. And if the eurozone's leadership doesn't really want Greece out of the euro, maybe that's enough. Already, Spain's economic minister is saying Greece should remain in the euro, and should be given a third bailout.

Remember, too, that the eurozone and the Greek government really weren't so far apart on terms. A few days before the referendum, Greece's prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, sent a letter to the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the other eurozone countries agreeing to the bulk of a bailout package that Greece had previously rejected. At the time, Tsipras's letter was ignored, as the ECB, IMF, and major eurozone players hoped his government would fall amidst the referendum.

That hope is now dashed. And so now we'll see what the players' bottom lines really are. Does the eurozone actually want Greece out of the euro? Or did it just want to topple Syriza? And does Greece really want to leave the euro? Or was it just trying to increase its negotiating leverage?

There's a very good chance that the referendum will leave the situation relatively unchanged: Syriza is still in power, Greece's leverage is no different than it was before the referendum, but neither Greece nor the eurozone really want to go through the pain and uncertainty of a Grexit. I don't think it's out of the question that they end up agreeing on a deal very much like the one they failed to agree on before the referendum.

We may be very far from the endgame here.

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