PSI, bond yields, ECB involvement, IMF-demanded reforms… there’s enough jargon and government speak floating around the Greek crisis that it’s easy to forget the real, humanitarian cost of an economic collapse.A new story by Russell Shorto in the NYT Magazine should help bring out the human side of the situation.
This paragraph is a punch in the gut:
By many indicators, Greece is devolving into something unprecedented in modern Western experience. A quarter of all Greek companies have gone out of business since 2009, and half of all small businesses in the country say they are unable to meet payroll. The suicide rate increased by 40 per cent in the first half of 2011. A barter economy has sprung up, as people try to work around a broken financial system. Nearly half the population under 25 is unemployed. Last September, organisers of a government-sponsored seminar on emigrating to Australia, an event that drew 42 people a year earlier, were overwhelmed when 12,000 people signed up. Greek bankers told me that people had taken about one-third of their money out of their accounts; many, it seems, were keeping what savings they had under their beds or buried in their backyards. One banker, part of whose job these days is persuading people to keep their money in the bank, said to me, “Who would trust a Greek bank?”
The rest of Shorto’s (long) article goes on to make a fairly complex argument that’s not entirely depressing. There’s a big back-to-the-land trend happening, a rediscovery of basic values, and a rejection (by necessity) of the post-Euro consumption/debt binge. Still, with numbers like those above, it’s obviously a depressing scene.
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