Thursday, May 31, 2012

What Austerity Has Wrought in Greece

Larry Elliott reports:
Greece is broke and close to being broken. It is a country where children are fainting in school because they are hungry, where 20,000 Athenians are scavenging through waste tips for food, and where the lifeblood of a modern economy--credit--is fast drying up. 
It is a country where the fascists and the anarchists battle for control of the streets, where immigrants fear to go out at night and where a woman whispers "it's like the Weimar republic" as a motorcycle cavalcade from the Golden Dawn party, devotees of Adolf Hitler, cruises past the parliament building. Graffiti says: "Foreigners get out of Greece. Greece is for the Greeks. I will vote for Golden Dawn to remove the filth from the country." 
As ever, it is economic collapse that is pushing politics to the extremes. Businesses that have not already gone bust are clinging on by their fingertips hoping the country's second election in two months will be a turning point. Not the moment when the economy starts to recover, because Greeks have seen enough and suffered enough to know that the slump will grind on through 2012 and 2013; instead, they are banking on the rest of Europe cutting Greece some slack for fear that a nation accounting for less than 3% of the eurozone's output could be the catalyst for a terminal crisis that will destroy the single currency.
Read the whole story.