Greece: Any more austerity pressure, and we’re looking at a “social explosion”

posted at 9:21 pm on February 20, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Greece has been stuck in an economic recession for going on six years now and is currently the seat of the highest unemployment rate among the 17-member euro bloc, with a jaw-dropping 27 percent of its eleven million population out of work (including a sixty percent unemployment rate for young people!) — part of the reason the country’s two biggest unions staged a major midweek protest. The debt-wracked nation has been relying on bailout loans from the EU and the IMF to make ends meet, in exchange for implementing a bunch of fiscal reforms meant to help the government get its finances in order and get the economy back on its feet, but that’s not going at all well, via the AP:

Looking out across a room full of reporters gathered to welcome French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday, Greece’s President Karolos Papoulias gave a stark warning about the state of the country after three harsh years of government spending cuts, joblessness and tax hikes.

“We are faced with a societal explosion if any more pressure is put on society,” he said. …

To continue receiving these loans, the Greek coalition government has had to agree to harsh spending cuts and tax hikes to try and lower public debt. …

“The government is thus caught between a rock and a hard place, trying to balance the demands of its domestic and foreign audiences,” said Martin Koehring, Greece Analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

“We expect political risk – social unrest and the instability of the fragile three-party government coalition – to remain a major focal point in Greece this year.”

(Sidebar: Do you ever notice that the word “harsh” gets thrown around a lot, as if these countries have some other miraculous source from which they could be getting cash infusions if only their international rescuers weren’t so meanly requiring them to make bold fiscal changes? All of these difficult austerity measures are only as “harsh” as the many corresponding policies and programs that led to this debt crisis were fiscally insane.)

The Greek president’s comments came ahead of a visit from France’s Socialist president, who promised to convince his country’s businesses to direct some investment toward Greece’s starved economy, via the NYT:

During a quick visit to the Greek capital on Tuesday, President François Hollande of France expressed support for Greece’s efforts to revive its economy and called on French companies to invest in the debt-racked country. …

“Our message is one of friendship, support, trust and growth” for Greece, Mr. Hollande said after talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. …

Mr. Hollande said he would push French companies to “actively support investments” and to participate in bids for the privatization of Greece’s state water and rail companies as well as other projects. …

Mr. Samaras, for his part, heralded “a new chapter” in bilateral ties, describing the French leader’s visit as “a vote of confidence that proved Greece is no longer the weak link of Europe.”

Except that recession is now officially a EU-wide phenomenon. Every member of the currency bloc experienced some level of economic contraction in the last quarter, including the two largest economies, Germany and France. France is in enough trouble with Berlin and Brussels for neglecting to abide by their own austerity requirements, and while encouraging the type of business and private-sector growth that leads to productive job creation is getting closer to the right idea, more central planning is hardly a recipe for the robust prosperity that leads to more revenue and less government dependence — none of this will really stop until the spending does.


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Greece/Detroit

Detroit/Greece

oh let’s toss in California in there.

CoffeeLover on February 20, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Poster boys for the entitlement culture.

Philly on February 20, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Greece here we come! LIB.

VegasRick on February 20, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Go Iceland. You can’t go wrong when your bankers decorate the lampposts of your capital.

Archivarix on February 20, 2013 at 9:27 PM

We’re headed that way, unfortunately.

Philly on February 20, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Thatcher’s theory comes true; world runs out of other people’s money.

Who’s to blame? Why, the people who used to have money, of course.

BobMbx on February 20, 2013 at 9:28 PM

And so it goes in the EU…

And so it will here too… Le sigh

Scrumpy on February 20, 2013 at 9:28 PM

lol Scrumpy….getting practice with your French again tonight!

CoffeeLover on February 20, 2013 at 9:30 PM

CoffeeLover on February 20, 2013 at 9:30 PM

I do believe I shall make it my signature!

Le Sigh

Scrumpy on February 20, 2013 at 9:31 PM

In the original Greek it’s: Send us enough money to keep the gravy train going because we’re feckless aholes who can’t do shiite right.

Bishop on February 20, 2013 at 9:32 PM

And so it goes in the EU…

And so it will here too… Le sigh

Scrumpy on February 20, 2013 at 9:28 PM

It seems so simple. Look at what they are doing. Look at the results. Don’t do what they did. Simple…right???

KCB on February 20, 2013 at 9:33 PM

To be linguistically correct it will have to be

Le Soupir…

Scrumpy on February 20, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Explode, go to war, kill your leaders, make it so.

tom daschle concerned on February 20, 2013 at 9:35 PM

KCB on February 20, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Even a one armed one legged blind deaf mute could see that!! ;-)

Our politicians on the other hand are handicapped with their heads up their collective azzes!

Le Soupir…

Scrumpy on February 20, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Scrumpy on February 20, 2013 at 9:35 PM

The new signature is hot!

KCB on February 20, 2013 at 9:38 PM

Our politicians on the other hand are handicapped with their heads up their collective azzes!

Le Soupir…

Scrumpy on February 20, 2013 at 9:35 PM

The new signature is hot!

KCB on February 20, 2013 at 9:38 PM

LOL :)

CoffeeLover on February 20, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Fair enough. If Greece feels that way, let them exit the EU, print their own currency, and live like a third world country. Better yet, hand them over to Turkey. The turks will whip them into shape in no time. Its saddening actually. The explosion of Western rationalism and logic was from there, once upon a time.

tommy71 on February 20, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Who has the guns? The makers or takers?

It’s all beyond fixing.

120 million died last century over this bullsh!t. What makes anyone think this century won’t be even worse. It’s coming here too, but we’ll dive in to thier suck first.

At some point all forms of progressivism/liberalism/statism will have to be eradicated, and I don’t think we are going to do it by changing their minds.

I thought we learned getting drawn in to two world wars, instead we adopted the model that leads to them. We even have our very own vichy before the war even starts.

wolly4321 on February 20, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Quit buying into left wing framing, it is not austerity, it is reality based budgeting, keeping money in the private sector, less grotesque deficit spending.

motionview on February 20, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Future generations will look back at this and say,
“They spent more than they had. How could they not understand that? Were people really that stupid back then?”

Answer: Yes. Yes, they were.

the_moll on February 20, 2013 at 10:18 PM

It has been painfully evident to anyone with half a brain and working knowledge of pocket calculators for over two years that Greece must depart the euro. They will have two-three years of hell on earth, then a real chance at recovery.

The EU isn’t stupid, they realize this as well BUT cannot admit it because of the huge hit their ECB and entire banking system will take from it, but especially because the smart money will start looking much closer at Spain, Portugal, and Italy. It’s not going to be pretty.

The only chance Europe had was a strong American leader in the last term, which means they were doomed from the start. Romney might have been able to convince them to do what needed to be done had he been elected in 2008, but it was already too late for Europe last year.

The smart money is buying guns and ammo.

Adjoran on February 20, 2013 at 10:21 PM

The only chance Europe had was a strong American leader in the last term, which means they were doomed from the start. Romney might have been able to convince them to do what needed to be done had he been elected in 2008, but it was already too late for Europe last year.

Adjoran on February 20, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Yep. Europe is now utterly past our ability to bail out. Even if Mittens had won this last election, he couldn’t have done squat. Reality is going to ensue.

MelonCollie on February 20, 2013 at 10:54 PM

The way these two so called men are shaking hands sums it up.

Meat Fighter on February 20, 2013 at 10:57 PM

Greece has been stuck in an economic recession for going on six years now

…and the U.S.?

KOOLAID2 on February 20, 2013 at 11:14 PM

I went to Greece in 2011 because I was able to get a lot for my money. I noticed a couple of things. One, the islands are mostly self sufficient and even in food shortages they were shipping food to the mainland. Two, on the islands we had one day of a taxi strike, but those same cabbies will still take you where you need to go for the same price, they just remove the taxi sign on the roof. And three, tourists play a part in the tax dodge if you don’t understand what’s going on. Most people hear “pay cash and I’ll give you 15% off”. When in reality you’re contributing to non collection on the taxes.
I felt unsafe in Athens, mostly due to the thousands of unemployed third worlders hanging out on street corners. They’re still on the dole though. And the cops get freaked out if they see more than two young people together in a park or public area, since they’re the ones starting riots.
Greece has a lot going for it if it would just get its govertment pays for everything head out of its azz.

RadioAngel on February 21, 2013 at 12:04 AM

Boom.

Borgcube on February 21, 2013 at 12:27 AM

Why is it so hard for those people to think in terms of competition? I just don’t understand it. Need jobs to come to your economy, then make it competitive. Make businesses want to come to your country.

ButterflyDragon on February 21, 2013 at 1:42 AM

In the original Greek it’s: Send us enough money to keep the gravy train going because we’re feckless aholes who can’t do shiite right.

Bishop on February 20, 2013 at 9:32 PM

They’re genius, and this video proves it. However it’s not safe for work.

P.S. Never trust a Greek who’s broke!

DFCtomm on February 21, 2013 at 5:59 AM

The answer to all Greece’s problems is the boiler plate socialist remedy:
Throw louder temper tantrums.

ROCnPhilly on February 21, 2013 at 6:54 AM

I felt unsafe in Athens, mostly due to the thousands of unemployed third worlders hanging out on street corners. They’re still on the dole though. And the cops get freaked out if they see more than two young people together in a park or public area, since they’re the ones starting riots.
Greece has a lot going for it if it would just get its govertment pays for everything head out of its azz.

RadioAngel on February 21, 2013 at 12:04 AM

If I had the $$ I would go bcs it looks beautiful.
But no thanks on the unsafe part.
I’ll just stay in America where there are so many things to see & do I couldn’t do them in a lifetime.

Badger40 on February 21, 2013 at 8:42 AM

The animals don’t like it when their bowls stopped being filled.

MNHawk on February 21, 2013 at 9:44 AM

I think we drop the Marxism, and quit trying to manage events.

Why no let them go bust, leave the Euro, and find so basis for going forward that will not rely on the pleasure of others?

Letting my imagination run, I can see no result except the rest of the Eurozone actually securing their borders.

In short, why should I or anyone else care? If people do, let them kick in something, but beyond that why bother?

Denver Bob on February 21, 2013 at 11:58 AM