Friday, 6 May 2016


Grexit is back on the table.  Apparently it never went away.  It was just us who breathed a sigh of relief after the last billion euro hand out, used up our stockpile of macaroni, paid all those extra taxes and conveniently forgot about the danger of  becoming the slum (or should it be 'scum') of europe.  Most european countries woud be happy I think to see Greece out of the euro-zone and back to the drachma.

It is six years since the first bailout .  Now we're on to the third.  The IMF is asking for more austerity. Greece has been told to decrease costs and increase income again and again.  And still the country's debt increases.  
We  still have capital controls, cannot take more than 60 euros a day out in cash.  The Government is trying to induce those who withdrew all their savings and sent money overseas to return it all to greek banks, not with much success.  The economic cimate is not one oozing confidence.

Unemployment is still very high, small businesses are closing down and big ones moving across the borders to the balkans or Turkey. 

All this means that more people cannot pay  their loans and a smaller workforce  brings in far less revenue  to pay pensions and wages.

Early retirees are still a drain on the social security sysytem.  Higher taxes, lower wages make it more likely that people will resort to tax evasion, black market transactions and work for cash which does not show up in the financial system.

There has been a 50% reduction in wages and pensions.  300,000 businesses have closed.  200,000 young people have left Greece looking for work in other countries,  3,000 suicides.

Tourism and agriculture are the main sources of income.  Tourism is down 90% on some of the islands now crowded with refugees.

There are around 55,000 refugees stranded in Greece, waiting, for borders to open so they can continue on towards central Europe.  Greece is a dead end.  EU countries that refuse to take in their quota of migrants could now be fined.  In the meantime they live on the greek mainland or on the islands in holding camps with ever deteriorating conditions.  

Turkey is stopping the flow of people across the Aegean .  In return the EU will lift its visa restrictions for Turkish civilians and provide 1 billion euros by the end of July to provide shelter and medical care for those on the Turkish side of the Aegean.  

Arrivals on the greek islands in the last months are now  around a 100 a day, down from an incredible 5-10,000 a day during the peak flow last summer. 

A three day general strike started today to protest new pension cuts and tax reforms being voted in this weekend.  There will be no boats to Greek islands until next Tuesday.  Lawyers have not been appearing in court for the last two months.  For the next few days there will be no public transport, journalists are on strike so there will be no news bulletins, no rubbish collection.  Even the final of the soccer league championship has been postponed.

An ancient grave has been found on the coast near Athens with 80 bodies, side by side and some tied together.  They are thought to be from the 7th century BC, the time of the rise of the Democracy of Athens. 

We have been having earthquakes of about 3 or 4 on the Richter scale every day all centred a little south near the island of Hydra or north near the island of Aegina. Danae who lives on the second floor always gets a good shake but today was the first time I felt one.  Not nice.

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