Who's to blame for "Grexit"?

Not the phenomenon; the word.

"Grexit" has gone from being a word that no-one had heard, to one that people couldn't quite believe they had heard, to one that people can't stop hearing, in a very short space of time.

Google Insights shows the search volume for the word over the last twelve months (the scale is searches, normalised so that the highest month is equal to 100):

As you can see, it was first heard in February, has a local maximum in March, and then rocketed up this month (it is likely to rise even higher in the last third of May). So where did it come from? Who do we have to blame?

It's all Citigroup's fault. On 7 February, Willem Buiter and Ebrahim Rahbari at Citi released a briefing note that read:

We raise our estimate of the likelihood of Greek exit from the eurozone (or ‘Grexit’) to 50 per cent over the next 18 months from earlier estimates of ours which put it at 25-30 per cent.

For the record, on 7 May Citi cranked up its odds of a Grexit to 50-75 per cent. If they are better at making medium-term predictions than they  are at coining words that don't sound like an antidepressant, there is still time to short the Euro.

A replica of the one drachma coin in Athens. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn turns "the nasty party" back on Theresa May

The Labour leader exploited Conservative splits over disability benefits.

It didn't take long for Theresa May to herald the Conservatives' Copeland by-election victory at PMQs (and one couldn't blame her). But Jeremy Corbyn swiftly brought her down to earth. The Labour leader denounced the government for "sneaking out" its decision to overrule a court judgement calling for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) to be extended to those with severe mental health problems.

Rather than merely expressing his own outrage, Corbyn drew on that of others. He smartly quoted Tory backbencher Heidi Allen, one of the tax credit rebels, who has called on May to "think agan" and "honour" the court's rulings. The Prime Minister protested that the government was merely returning PIPs to their "original intention" and was already spending more than ever on those with mental health conditions. But Corbyn had more ammunition, denouncing Conservative policy chair George Freeman for his suggestion that those "taking pills" for anxiety aren't "really disabled". After May branded Labour "the nasty party" in her conference speech, Corbyn suggested that the Tories were once again worthy of her epithet.

May emphasised that Freeman had apologised and, as so often, warned that the "extra support" promised by Labour would be impossible without the "strong economy" guaranteed by the Conservatives. "The one thing we know about Labour is that they would bankrupt Britain," she declared. Unlike on previous occasions, Corbyn had a ready riposte, reminding the Tories that they had increased the national debt by more than every previous Labour government.

But May saved her jibe of choice for the end, recalling shadow cabinet minister Cat Smith's assertion that the Copeland result was an "incredible achivement" for her party. "I think that word actually sums up the Right Honourable Gentleman's leadership. In-cred-ible," May concluded, with a rather surreal Thatcher-esque flourish.

Yet many economists and EU experts say the same of her Brexit plan. Having repeatedly hailed the UK's "strong economy" (which has so far proved resilient), May had better hope that single market withdrawal does not wreck it. But on Brexit, as on disability benefits, it is Conservative rebels, not Corbyn, who will determine her fate.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.