Wednesday, April 21, 2010
What do you do when you are the prime minister of a bankrupt country and your only recourse is to get the Washington D.C.-based IMF to come in and tell you you have to cut wages by about 120% and fire 75% of the country (especially after the same Germans you recently demanded WWII reparations from, mysteriously have decided in the eleventh hour to have their last laugh at your expense). Why, you send in the national guard, armed with fake six-pack ridged bulletproof vests and gas masks, to repeat the miracle of Thermopylae against the marauding population which has suddenly realized that the past 10 years of chimeric happiness were a one-time miracle thanks to Mr Goldman and fat, and somewhat stupid, uncle Almunia. The next thing you do, once you realize you are about to have a [revolution|uprising|civil war] is to declare a moratorium on your €300 billion of debt, make your people happy and stick it precisely to the same bankers that you complain about every single day for "speculating" against you. Tomorrow Greece will face the trifecta of a much delayed hangover as 1) its bonds hit 9% as the hedge funds who have been buying up in expectations of a snapback capitulate, 2) EuroStat declares its deficit was officially 14%, and 3) a Greek civil servant strike in their fourth national walkout this year.
The strike will shutter hospital and schools and also affect ministries and government offices, according to an e- mailed statement from Athens-based ADEDY, the umbrella group for more than 500,000 state workers. It will hold a rally in central Athens at 11 a.m. local time.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is under fire from voters who say his austerity measures have gone too far and from investors who argue that further action is needed to cut the EU’s largest budget deficit. As Greece meets EU and International Monetary Fund officials to agree on the conditions tied to any loan, the extra yield investors demand to hold Greek debt over German bonds has surged to a record 522 basis points.
“Papandreou is caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Jacques Cailloux, chief European Economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. “The market has zero confidence in what the Greeks are saying, and any further austerity measures pushed for by the IMF could be the ones that break the camel’s back if they are deemed unfair by the population. He doesn’t have any option though.”
Today’s strike isn’t expected to affect public transport or air traffic, after air-traffic controllers postponed a planned walkout to clear a backlog of flights caused by the spread of volcanic ash from Iceland across Europe.
PAME Hellas, a union affiliated with the Greek Communist Party, called its own labor action. Members of the group blockaded entry to the port of Piraeus yesterday, preventing ferries from sailing. Others picketed luxury hotels in the city center, including at least one where IMF negotiators are staying.
“We must dare, otherwise we will be led like lambs to the slaughter,” said Aleka Papariga, head of the Communist Party of Greece, the third-largest parliamentary party. “The working people aren’t about to be used to allow passage of policies that will bring the worst barbarity we’ve seen in the past 35 years.”
That's funny, cause America recently allowed passage of policies that would make Greek debt-to-GDP ratios seems like a midget in Liliput compared to the monster our own Treasury is about to spawn. Yet, as always, it isn't until it is far too late to fix something proactively that the people of any country, be it Greece or the US, wake up from their deep slumber. Greece has now officially woken up (we will show you footage of tomorrow's hopefully non-violent riots to confirm). We wonder how long before America does the same.
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