I spoke with someone from Athens today. It’s not a pretty picture.
Issues related to subsistence have replaced the fervor for demonstrations. This may not last according to this resident.
The closing of stores and shops is escalating. Apparently, 20% of all retail establishments are shuttered. Nearly every block has one reminder of the ongoing depression in the economy.
The Greek Diaspora is in full swing. People are leaving the country, old and young alike. They are going to Europe, where the prospects of jobs stink, but not as badly as Greece. They are also fleeing to America (family members in the U.S. have been helping out), Australia (where some are welcome) and South America.
The talk is that the Greeks are becoming the new Palestinians. They leave their homes, as there is no future there, but all the time they wish they never left.
As the shops close and the people leave, the economy shrinks. My Greek friend is convinced that government revenues are collapsing as a result. Whatever estimates the Troika were looking at six-months ago are pure fantasy today. The country is imploding.
People are feeling hopeless, and the situation is getting worse. In this fellow’s opinion, there is not a chance in hell that Greece will avoid a default. Two years ago there was a general belief that Greece could manage through a crisis, and avoid defaulting and sustain the link to the Euro. That is no longer the case.
This friend understands that a transition from the Euro to the Drachma would cause huge additional pain. It would devalue the pensions of every citizen by at least 50%. He understands that a default would mean that Greece would be a debt pariah. In spite of this, he prefers that it would come sooner rather than later. He thinks this is the prevailing sentiment in the country. There is nothing desirable about this choice. It’s now just inevitable.