Image credit. Graffito reads: cops, you will be eaten by your children. Links: where we're at; only a matter of time until forced restructuring and, inevitably, the Euro exit. See also, from last year: RMF's report, Breaking Up?, and James Meek's diary from Athens and Lesbos.
Another angle. Also: '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 percent 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, organizers 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 situation at the macro level is, if anything, even more transformational. The Chinese have largely taken over Piraeus, Greece’s main port, with an eye to make it a conduit for shipping goods into Europe. Qatar is looking to invest $5 billion in various projects in Greece, including tourism infrastructure. Other, relatively flush Europeans are trying to make “Greece the Florida of Europe,” Theodore Pelagidis, a Greek economist at the University of Piraeus, told me, referring in particular to plans to turn islands into expensive retirement homes for wealthy people from other parts of the continent. Whether or not the country pays its debts, he went on, other nations and foreign companies “now understand the Greek government is powerless, so in the future they will take over viable assets and run parts of the country by themselves.”'
The Greek Cauldron: 'What are the likely outcomes to the Greek crisis? By far the most probable scenario is a default. This now seems unavoidable, and will perhaps occur after the sixth austerity package has been implemented. The austerity measures themselves will trigger further waves of social unrest; here it is hard to predict what forms any upsurge will take, and what their political content will be. But the likelihood that the Greek response to social catastrophe will mirror that of, say, Yeltsin’s Russia seems slim: Greece is a far less atomized society than the late Soviet Union, with far higher levels of popular mobilization. This therefore implies a much more confrontational outcome than that of 1990s Russia, as the regime struggles to maintain control over a desperate population in revolt. The possibility of an authoritarian fuite-en-avant then arises; already the far right has discussed altering the electoral law to block the left from increasing its presence in parliament, speaking ominously of Greece becoming ‘the Cuba of Europe’.The example of Argentina is much discussed in Greece at present, with Fernando Solanas’s 2004 documentary Memoria del saqueo enjoying enormous popularity. There is certainly a political void in Greece into which a Kirchner figure could step, perhaps from the margins of the political system—especially if the left continues to be paralysed. And while it lacks the commodity-export base that fuelled Argentina’s economic revival, Greece possesses other advantages: a highly educated population, relatively good infrastructure, a strong tourist sector, its overall level of wealth. There are crucial differences, however, that make it very difficult to see this scenario being realized. Firstly, the extent to which the Greek ruling class is integrated, both politically and economically, into the European project. Secondly, the Greek debt crisis is an organic part of a wider crisis of the eurozone: events in Athens trigger immediate reactions from governments and stock markets elsewhere, to a far greater extent than did those in Buenos Aires.'
So, what would your plan for Greece be?Paul Mason's latest report: 'What was no joke were the clashes between police and the hardline protesters - drawn from the anarchist black bloc, the fringes of the far left and in increasing numbers from right-wing, football-supporting groups on the fringes of LAOS and the fascist group Chrissi Avgi. Time and again, on the grounds of confronting the rioters, police made incursions into large masses of peaceful protesters.This is hardly spoken of by Greek ministers and the EU doesn't seem to want to comment on it. But I can tell you from repeated experience, it feels like a process of collective punishment of a peaceful majority.I think this week caught Greece on the proverbial brink of something. The anger could easily solidify into anti-German sentiment, but with the conservatives and Orthodox right implicated in the first bailout, anger can more easily flow to the left.'
Greece really needs a year to prepare for total default.
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