Monday, 18 June 2012

Greece - a situation report

Greek unemployment rate jumped to 22.6 percent, up from 20.7 percent in Q4. Even worse, the youth unemployment rate is sitting at a horrifying 52.7 percent.
Business Insider

The state power agency is warning of imminent electricity blackouts because it can’t pay its bills. And Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, has threatened to cut Greece off unless it is paid by June 22
New York Times

Measures to increase (tax) revenues have backfired. A scheme tacking on tax arrears to electricity bills saw customers stop paying their bills. Utility company PPC is seeking a state loan to prevent a cashflow crisis as a result.
Daily Telegraph

In crisis-wracked Greece, even finding aspirin can be a pain. The Panhellenic Association of Pharmacists says Greece is running short of almost half its 500 most-used drugs.

Commercial pharmacies, which claim they are owed €540m by the EOPYY, the main state health insurance fund, are insisting customers pay up front for medicines.

Greece will pledge permanent spending cuts, including lower pension payments and a 20 percent reduction in the minimum wage, as the economy contracts this year at a faster pace than originally estimated.

Even where tax evaders have been caught and prosecuted, punishments for the well-connected have been minimal. Well-known singer Tolis Voskopoulos, who is married to a former MP, was convicted of owing €500,000. He got a suspended sentence and was told to repay the outstanding amount at €5 a day.
Daily Telegraph

As he stood behind his vegetable stand in the outdoor market in central Athens, Nikolas Vrettos, 62, said he was getting by only because he had stopped paying his suppliers and his rent. “Things are going very badly,” said Mr. Vrettos, who said he had lost 20,000 euros in the last two years. “We just don’t pay anyone.”
New York Times

Greece has agreed to lay off 15,000 public-sector workers by the end of 2012, a government minister said Monday, as international pressure mounts on Athens to accept austerity measures needed to secure major new debt agreements.
Wall Street Journal

It was not just his freshly laundered "I Love London" t-shirt that distinguished Vangelis from the throng of people queuing for free food in central Athens on Thursday. It was his place of work. The 56 year-old has spent the best part of his career behind a desk at the ministry of finance, earning a decent salary by local standards and looking forward to an even more decent pension. Now, four or five times a month – "when things get really tight" - he finds himself alongside illegal immigrants, drug addicts and the homeless, receiving two hunks of white bread and a watery stew of peas and carrots at a soup kitchen in the grimy courtyard of a council building. His monthly salary has been cut from €2,900 per month to €1,700.
Daily Telegraph

Last week Euler Hermes, the world's number one trade credit insurer, said that it was no longer providing cover for firms exporting goods to Greece, following a similar move by Coface, owned by French bank Natixis.
Medical Express

Carrefour, the giant French supermarket and retail group, said on Friday that it was selling its entire stake in Greece at a loss to its local franchise partner, so it could concentrate “on markets where it sees growth,” a spokesman said.
New York Times

Rich Greeks have been parking their money in the London the property market at an accelerating rate over the past two years as their country has slipped closer to the abyss. According the estate agent Savills, enquiries from Greeks about luxury London homes rose by 40 per cent in April.
Daily Telegraph

Fanning herself in the midday heat, Mary Trifonopoulou sits patiently in the jobcentre and waits. It is not her first time here, and it will almost certainly not be her last. A qualified nurse with a big smile and cheerful demeanour, the 30-year-old lost her job in a children's hospital in October and has been looking for work ever since. For nursing jobs? "For anything." Meanwhile, she is living with her mother, surviving on €360 a month in unemployment benefit, and learning English as a last-resort exit strategy. Life, she says simply, "is very hard".
The Guardian

A 77-year-old man shot himself in Athens' central Syntagma square in front of the parliament. He left a note complaining that the government had "annihilated" his hope of survival, adding that he had decided to take his own life before being forced to start scrounging for food from rubbish bins.
Daily Telegraph

Many Greeks are emptying their bank accounts out of fear that the country may return to the drachma. But most of the money is not going abroad. Instead, individuals are storing cash in safe deposit boxes or at home -- leading to an increase in burglaries.
Der Spiegel

Since the Greek debt crisis broke in late 2009, depositors have slowly pulled some €72 billion from local lenders, with total household and corporate deposits standing at €165.9 billion in April, according to the latest data from the Bank of Greece.

Last month, the country's four main lenders received (EURO)18 billion ($22.56 billion) to avoid going bankrupt due to the losses on the government bonds. The government has a total of (EURO)50 billion ($62.67 billion) in funds earmarked for the banks as part of the country's second bailout.

Ever since Greece hit the skids, we’ve heard a lot about what’s wrong with everything Greek. Some of the accusations are true, some are false — but all of them are beside the point. Yes, there are big failings in Greece’s economy, its politics and no doubt its society. But those failings aren’t what caused the crisis that is tearing Greece apart, and threatens to spread across Europe.  No, the origins of this disaster lie farther north, in Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin, where officials created a deeply — perhaps fatally — flawed monetary system, then compounded the problems of that system by substituting moralizing for analysis. And the solution to the crisis, if there is one, will have to come from the same places.
Paul Krugman

It's so important that the Greek elections preferably lead to a result in which those that will form a future government say: 'yes, we will stick to the agreements'.
Angela Merkel

As she slipped her ballot into the voting box, Mrs. Apostolopoulos would not reveal her choice. “It doesn’t matter who I voted for,” she declared. “Only God can make things better.”
New York Times


Kitz said...

Mrs Apostolopoulos is right for her and us ,it doesn't matter who we vote for .

droog said...

A struggling democratic election has elected a fact-free cult bent on destroying the West and hurting innocent citizens out of strict adherence to ideology.

In completely unrelated news The Muslim Brotherhood were elected in Egypt.

davidb said...

My heart goes out to poor Greeks facing such hardship. The rich in their society have cleaned up - as well as a few high end carmakers and some London estates Agents.

How have we reached the situation where hospitals ransom newborn babies and respectable people are fed by soup kitchens in Western Europe? We should be ashamed that this happens in Europe, while we argue about austerity.

Write the debt off, but on condition the leaders of the parties which ran their economy so recklessly are jailed and their assets siezed.

Anonymous said...

Quite a nice post Alice. Shocking stuff though.

dearieme said...

"the youth unemployment rate is sitting at a horrifying 52.7 percent": if it's calculated the same way as the Spanish one then it's essentially a lie. (If I am to believe the one account I've read of how the Spanish figure is calculated.)

ernie said...

We are seeing in Greece a microcosm of the central point of what is going on. We are living through the decay and collapse of the post-war socialistic welfare state, from which we all benefitted. Not saying it's nice or good but there it is. We have gradually voted ourselves benefits which the tax revenues available can no longer support. Whatever else we discuss, that's the be all and end all. Nothing will change until we face this. And don't say "tax the rich" - we already do and as you see above they are the ones who can move. In any case, once you've taken all their money then what are you going to do?

Anonymous said...

Well said Ernie.