"We're not willing to pour money into a bottomless pit"

In an interview published Friday in the British daily Guardian, Lagarde blasted Greeks for not paying their taxes. “As far as Athens is concerned,” she said, “I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.” Just to make sure her message was getting through, she added: “I think they should also help themselves collectively … by all paying their tax.”

Elsewhere in the interview, she said that she thinks more about children in the African country of Niger than she does about Greeks. “I think they need even more help than the people of Athens,” she said.

Reaction from Greece has been prompt and furious. “The last thing we need is sympathy from Ms. Lagarde,” said Alexis Tsipras, head of the leftist Syriza party. He added that the great majority of Greeks pay their taxes.