The Two Biggest Surprises From My First 24 Hours In Greece

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ATHENS, GREECE — I’ve been on the ground here in Athens for about 24 hours, and at this point I have two surprise observations related to the situation Greece finds itself in.First, I have yet to meet anyone new who thinks Greece is about to leave the Eurozone.

That includes the cab driver I talked to yesterday, who thinks Europe is on the verge of WWIII, to market traders, and journalists. None really think it could happen, and mostly that seems to be on the basis of the fact that very few people in Greece want Greece to leave the Eurozone. Barring the radical left and right, everybody thinks a Greek exit would be catastrophic, chaotic, and undesirable.

The other surprise (and in retrospect, it probably shouldn’t have been) is the extent to which people don’t really blame the structure of the Eurozone, but rather their own government, corruption, lack of paying taxes, and the bureaucracy. This includes a fair range of people, from students to professionals.

Whereas the international finance/chattering community talks a lot about the Germans and the flawed Eurozone structure (the inability of the Greeks to print their own money, and so forth), the Greeks seem furious with their own leaders, and think the debt is just a byproduct of a corrupt social system. It’s for this reason that there’s scepticism that leaving the Eurozone and letting the country print its own money would solve anything. If you think corruption is the big issue, changing currencies does nothing.

As a corollary to this, outside of Greek radicals (like the Golden Dawn supporter I talked to yesterday) there isn’t much Merkel hate I’ve encountered. People seem to think she’s doing her job and what’s best for the Germans.

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