Greece's deficit problems were so bad that it has cost the European Union and International Monetary Fund €240 billion in promised bailout money to keep the country's debt crisis from taking down all of Europe. Quite a big problem for a nation that has an economy that's in fact smaller than the metro area of Boston.
In chart form, the Wall Street Journal pitted the 2011 gross domestic products of countries versus the gross metro products of U.S. cities. Whereas the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy GMP was $326 billion, Greece's GDP was $299.1 billion. The country just surpasses the GMP of Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta which clocked in at $283.8 billion. Oil-rich Venezuela, with a GDP of $317.8 billion, is squeezed in between Boston and Greece. The Atlanta metro area, with a GDP of $283.8 billion last year, is just behind the Greeks.
It puts the euro crisis in perspective when you realize the economy that caused such problems, and left — as BBC News noted in June — so many countries "exposed" to its debt. For comparison's sake as of July 1, 2011 the population estimate for Boston-Cambridge-Quincy was 4,591,112 and for Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta was 5,359,205, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The July 2011 estimate for Greece, via the CIA, was 10,767,827.
Another tidbit from the chart: the New York area's GMP is ranked 14th on the list, just below the GDP of Australia, but higher than that of Mexico.