By The Associated Press - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 0 Comments
ATHENS, Greece – Ferry and train services in Greece have ground to a halt…
ATHENS, Greece – Ferry and train services in Greece have ground to a halt as unions hold a strike for May Day.
And hundreds of people are gathering for planned rallies in central Athens Wednesday.
The country’s main labour unions are protesting soaring unemployment, which is the highest in the 27-country European Union, and the austerity measures the government is enacting in return for crucial bailout loans.
Greece nearly went bankrupt in 2010 and has since depended on money from its euro partners and the International Monetary Fund, granted on condition the government pursues deep spending cuts and wide-ranging economic reforms.
While the austerity has succeeded in reducing high budget deficits, it has been at a huge cost. The country is now in its sixth year of a deep recession.
By The Associated Press - Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 4:10 PM - 0 Comments
ATHENS, Greece – The Greek Parliament is debating, and will vote on by midnight…
ATHENS, Greece – The Greek Parliament is debating, and will vote on by midnight Sunday, an emergency omnibus bill that will ensure continued disbursement of bailout aid by the country’s creditors.
The bill contains many unrelated provisions, from the payment of owed taxes and social security contributions to the end of bakeries’ monopoly in baking bread, but the most politically contentious one is the provision for the immediate firing of 2,000 civil servants by the end of May and a further 13,000 by the end of next year.
To shorten debate and to present the bill as a sort of confidence vote, the government has bundled 110 pages of legislation into a single article. Debate in committee lasted a single day and so will debate in the full Parliament.
By The Associated Press - Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 7:08 AM - 0 Comments
ATHENS, Greece – Unemployment in debt-crippled Greece rose to a record of 26 per…
ATHENS, Greece – Unemployment in debt-crippled Greece rose to a record of 26 per cent in the last quarter of 2012, as austerity measures combined with a deep recession took a harsh toll on the workforce.
The figures were worse than the previous quarter’s 24.8 per cent, and 20.7 per cent a year earlier.
The national statistical authority said Thursday that 1.29 million people were out of a job in October-December 2012. In the under 25 age group, unemployment was 57.8 per cent.
The rate for women was 29.7 per cent, compared with 23.3 per cent for men.
Greece’s economy has been falling apart over the past three years, savaged by its financial crisis. The country is surviving on international rescue loans, released on condition it keeps up a tough program of spending cuts and tax hikes.
By The Associated Press - Friday, January 25, 2013 at 5:52 AM - 0 Comments
ATHENS, Greece – Greek riot police stormed the Athens subway train depot before dawn…
ATHENS, Greece – Greek riot police stormed the Athens subway train depot before dawn Friday to enforce a government emergency order forcing striking staff back to work in an escalating standoff over new austerity measures.
Dozens of strikers had barricaded themselves in the depot in western Athens late Thursday, after the government issued a rare civil mobilization order under which workers refusing to return to work risk dismissal, arrest and jail time.
Metro staff have been outraged by plans to scrap their existing contracts as part of a broader reform to public sector pay, with their union saying the measure would subject them to a roughly 25 per cent pay cut. Their strike has left the capital without subway service for nine days.
Hammered by a financial crisis since late 2009, Greece has imposed repeated rounds of public sector salary and pension cuts in return for billions of euros in international rescue loans. The measures have led to a deep recession, now in its sixth year, and unemployment spiraling above 26 per cent.
By The Associated Press - Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 4:40 AM - 0 Comments
ATHENS, Greece – Greece’s conservative prime minister is holding an emergency meeting to decide…
ATHENS, Greece – Greece’s conservative prime minister is holding an emergency meeting to decide how to get striking public transport employees back to work.
Strikers protesting pay cuts refused to return to work Thursday, leaving Athens’ subway system closed for an eighth day, despite a court decision declaring their protest illegal.
The confrontation is a challenge to the government’s latest round of austerity measures, needed for continued bailout payments but which have also deepened hardship as the country enters a sixth year of recession.
The government has not ruled out forcing the strikers back to work, using special powers normally reserved for wartime or national emergencies.
By Tamsin McMahon - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
While eurozone nations tighten their belts, America may face the bleaker future as its debt troubles pile up
With the international community warning again that European debt woes could knock the wind out of the U.S. recovery—and by extension Canada’s economy—and spark a global recession, there was a rare bit of good news coming out of the Continent. A new study by the Lisbon Council and Berenberg Bank suggests that it’s Europe, not the United States, that is on the more stable path toward long-term economic prosperity.
Since 2009, the eurozone’s most troubled countries have been making significant gains in slashing their deficits, overhauling their civil service, cutting labour costs and fixing their trade balances. Far from showing evidence of “moral hazard,” the authors say countries that were bailed out by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund “are working hard to make sure that they deserve such support and can get back onto their own feet again fast.”
The same, the report warns, can’t be said of the United States, which faces a $1-trillion deficit for the fourth year in a row and where its lawmakers are deadlocked over how to handle the prospect of $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts set to automatically take effect at the end of the year, known as the fiscal cliff. Economists are predicting that once again Congress will be forced to raise the debt ceiling by February and that the country may need a fourth round of quantitative easing (in which the Federal Reserve pumps money into the economy by buying Treasury bonds).
By Erica Alini - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 2:57 PM - 0 Commentsof Photos
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 5:23 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Peggy Nash had asked why the Prime Minister wouldn’t be in Halifax on Friday to meet with the premiers—”Since the Prime Minister is rarely here on Friday…”—and Jim Flaherty had duly enumerated all of the conversations the Prime Minister has had with the premiers these last seven years and now Ms. Nash was apparently done playing nice.
“Mr. Speaker, the fact is the premiers of this country are getting together to discuss, among other things, the economy, but the Prime Minister is refusing to join them,” she prefaced. “According to the IMF, we will have fallen behind the U.S. in growth by 2015. Greece’s economy is expected to grow faster than ours.”
The Conservatives across the way burst into laughter. The Speaker was obliged to call for order. Continue…
By The Associated Press - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 6:08 AM - 0 Comments
THESSALONIKI, Greece – Dozens of anti-austerity protesters broke into a conference centre in northern…
THESSALONIKI, Greece – Dozens of anti-austerity protesters broke into a conference centre in northern Greece and clashed with police on Thursday to demonstrate against the presence of a German government official.
The protesting municipal workers pushed and threw coffee on a German diplomat who arrived to attend the conference of Greek and German mayors being held in the city of Thessaloniki. They later forced open shutters and entered the conference centre, where they clashed with riot police.
A German deputy labour minister who has been appointed special envoy to Greece, Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, was also attending the event.
“These people haven’t come here to help us, but to announce our death sentence,” said Themis Balasopoulos, leader of Greece’s municipal workers union, who was at Thursday’s demonstration.
The protesters chanted “Nazis out” and “This will not pass” as they tried to obstruct municipal officials from attending the conference.
Germany is the biggest contributor to Greece’s rescue loans and has been one of the most vocal advocates of the tough austerity measures demanded of Athens. As a result, protesters in Greece often target Germany in their demonstrations.
Last month, around 50,000 people demonstrated in Athens when German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid here first official visit to Greece since the country’s massive debt crisis broke out. She expressed support for the conservative-led government’s efforts to limit high budget deficits.
The Greek Parliament last week passed a new austerity package that bailout creditors had demanded in exchange for paying out more rescue loans. The package raised the retirement age and cut pensions and raised taxes. It has also has eased restrictions on firing workers.
In a chaotic scene on Thursday, riot police chased protesters through the conference centre complex from building to building. There were no immediate reports of arrests.
The protesters played Nazi anthems over loud speakers, as well as Greek radio recordings from World War Two.
Left-wing German lawmaker Annette Groth joined the protesters outside the conference centre, where clashes with riot police also occurred.
“I have also been unemployed,” she told the crowd. “It is not you who should pay the price for this crisis but the rich.”
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 3:54 AM - 0 Comments
ATHENS, Greece – A Greek publisher appeared in court Monday following the publication in his magazine of a list of the names of more than 2,000 Greek residents with Swiss bank accounts, a case that has caused political controversy during the country’s economic crisis.
ATHENS, Greece – A Greek publisher appeared in court Monday following the publication in his magazine of a list of the names of more than 2,000 Greek residents with Swiss bank accounts, a case that has caused political controversy during the country’s economic crisis.
Costas Vaxevanis was in court on a misdemeanour charge of violating data protection laws, after the weekend publication in Hot-Doc magazine of a list of alleged depositors at an HSBC bank in Switzerland. His trial was postponed until Thursday.
The published names were allegedly taken from data on 24,000 HSBC customers that the bank reported stolen in 2010, potentially exposing many international clients to prosecution by tax authorities if they failed to declare the assets in their home countries. The bank said a former IT employee with HSBC, identified by French authorities, had obtained the information.
Greek prosecutors say the more than 2,000 Greek names were given to Greece’s government by French authorities.
The list — which also was published Monday by Greece’ top selling daily newspaper, Ta Nea — has been dubbed by the Greek media as the “Lagarde List” after former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde. She now serves as the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
Former government officials were recently questioned in parliament for allegedly failing to investigate the Greek list for potential tax fraud.
Vaxevanis, who has not been detained, defended his actions after leaving court Monday.
“I’ll say something that’s very simple: Journalism means publishing something that others are trying to hide. Everything else is public relations,” he said. “The public prosecutors’ office has shown a special interest in its dealings with me. I don’t know why this is the case, but I accept it.”
Greece, which has been surviving on rescue loans since 2010, has faced persistent criticism from international creditors for failing to effectively limit tax evasion.
In Brussels, EU Commission spokesman Simon O’ Connor declined to comment on Monday about the publisher’s arrest. But O’Connor said, “It is essential that the fight against tax evasion in Greece is intensified. All possible cases of tax evasion must be fully investigated by the competent authorities … and this particularly true at a time when many Greek citizens are being asked to make significant sacrifices in the effort to ensure the sustainability of Greece’s public finances.”
Greece’s government is currently negotiating with its international creditors over a euro13.5 billion ($17.6 billion) package of new austerity measures as the public endures the country’s sixth straight year of recession, with 25 per cent unemployment.
By Stavroula Logothettis - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 3:09 PM - 0 Comments
Bloody attacks against minorities have spiked as Golden Dawn rises
A year ago, Musta Amid paid human traffickers to smuggle him to Greece over the Turkish border—the most porous in Europe. “All I want is to work,” said the 19-year-old Nigerian, sitting on a commuter train bound for Athens, where he sells handmade crafts. A Greek in his twenties, sitting nearby, apparently angered by his story, interjected: “Why should you monkeys have work when I don’t? I’ve been unemployed for a year. This is my country and if anyone should have work, it should be me.” The conversation on the suburban train, as it whizzed past an endless stream of graffiti supporting Hrisi Avgi, or Golden Dawn, Greece’s extreme-right party, emboldened a tough-looking, elderly man. “The Turks should’ve drowned you like rats,” he snarled. “Greece is for Greeks. Get out and take everyone like you with you. Golden Dawn will show you the way with a kick in the ass!”
Two years ago, blatantly racist outbursts like these would have been inconceivable in Greece. But the economic crisis has given rise to a dangerous new form of nationalism—and Golden Dawn, which captured its first seat on Athens city council two years ago, is perfectly placed to take advantage. In June, the once-marginal extremist party won 18 parliamentary seats in Greece’s general election. It campaigned against austerity measures and immigration—what the party spokesperson calls a government conspiracy to turn Greece into a “wretched protectorate inhabited by subhumans with no conscience, no country and no national culture.”
Such statements contribute to the marked increase in violence and intimidation directed at Greece’s immigrants. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch warned that xenophobic violence in Greece has reached “alarming proportions,” and accused Greek authorities of doing nothing to stop the attacks.
By Colin Campbell - Monday, July 23, 2012 at 11:16 AM - 0 Comments
Germany and the International Monetary Fund both plan to cut off Greece as it seeks another $60 billion to avoid certain bankruptcy, reports Spiegel Online. Greece is struggling to meet the conditions of its $157 billion bailout from last March—efforts to trim its massive deficit and boost taxes were complicated by two national elections this spring. Germany appears to have run out of patience (and political capital) when it comes to backing-up Greece, with one government minister stating, “If Greece no longer meets its requirements there can be no further payments …For me, a Greek exit has long since lost its horrors.” A decision by the IMF to pull the plug on Greece would be more worrisome, and likely mean default for the country would happen much sooner (a matter of weeks) than later.
By Stephen Marche - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
Across Europe, quality of life is dropping, providing fertile ground for the far right
Ahead of the June 17 elections in Greece, Athens was the scene of a gruesome nostalgia trip. The ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party took to holding torchlit parades through the streets. The party rejects the term neo-Nazi, but there’s little doubt about its source of inspiration. Their symbol, the twisting maeander, is highly reminiscent of a swastika; they send teams of threatening young men into the streets wearing black shirts; their leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, specializes in flamboyant, melodramatic fist-shaking speeches, awash in self-pity; and several prominent members have openly approved of Hitler. These are not fringe figures in the Greek political landscape anymore. During the last legislative election, barely a month ago, they managed to take seven per cent of the vote. This time around they earned 6.92 per cent.
They are not unique to Greece. Just as the 1970s gave rise to a slew of European left-wing terrorists in the wake of turbulent social and economic change in the 1960s, so the failure of globalization is inevitably coughing up a new breed of fascism across the Continent.
By Michael Petrou - Monday, June 18, 2012 at 5:11 PM - 0 Comments
Greece’s second attempt this year to form a government in the midst of a rapid and escalating financial crisis seems a little more likely to succeed than its first, only a month ago.
In May, legislative elections shook up the Greek parliament, pummeling PASOK, the left-leaning party that many Greeks blamed for accepting severe austerity measures as part of the 2010 bailout package with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
PASOK, together with the conservative New Democracy party, which also supported the bailout deal, earned less than one third of the vote in May. They lost ground to SYRIZA, a party originally founded as a coalition of radical leftist parties. SYRIZA, crucially, opposed the bailout package, and its success brought worries that Greece would reject austerity and leave the euro — possibly triggering the eventual collapse of the entire eurozone.
But none of the leading three parties was able to form a government, and so here we are again. Last weekend’s elections again failed to give any party a majority. But they did reshuffle power. New Democracy surged to 30 per cent of the popular vote. Leader Antonis Samaras says he will seek changes to the bailout deal. He’s not proposing scrapping it. PASOK continued its decline, but combined the two traditionally powerful parties will likely be able to form a government. Alexis Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA, has ruled out joining a coalition – opting instead, as he put it, for strong and responsible opposition. This is the right choice. His party has firmly opposed bailout conditions. Comprising for power would stain its integrity, and would besides leave more radical and less responsible parties to fight that corner.
By macleans.ca - Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 7:16 PM - 0 Comments
With more than 80 per cent of Greek votes now counted, the New Democracy…
The world has been waiting on the results.
“The Greek people today voted for Greece to remain on its European path an in the eurozone,” said New Democracy Leader Antonis Samaras.
Reuters reports that the euro reached a one-month high on news that the country remains committed to currency that is shared by 17 countries.
James Kanter of the Times reports that European leaders will address the results at a news conference on Monday.
The president of the European Council issued a statement on the results:
“The Greek people have spoken. We fully respect its democratic choice. We are hopeful that the election results will allow a government to be formed quickly.
Today, we salute the courage and resilience of the Greek citizens, fully aware of the sacrifices which are demanded from them to redress the Greek economy and build new, sustainable growth for the country.”
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 4:45 PM - 0 Comments
It may be time for Greece to leave the eurozone. Analysts have been saying since late last year that a Greek exit, now known as “Grexit” among economics dorks, was a likely scenario. Last weekend’s messy elections and this morning’s bombshell statements by the country’s left-wing Syriza bloc make it all the more likely. So what would a Grexit actually look like, and would it be good or bad for Canada and the rest of the world economy?
The short answer is that letting Greece slip out of the eurozone is a good idea in theory, but a hard one to pull off without disastrous consequences in practice. David Smith, economics editor of The Sunday Times, summed it up nicely in a post he wrote before the election results came out:
“A Greek exit, should it occur, would eventually be good for Greece and remaining eurozone members. Getting there, however, without triggering a domino effect, and without a hugely damaging impact of the banking system, is the difficult part.“
By Paul Wells - Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 10:13 PM - 0 Comments
Springtime Sundays are election days in Europe, and this one brought two blockbusters. In…
Springtime Sundays are election days in Europe, and this one brought two blockbusters. In France, Nicolas Sarkozy becomes only the second man to lose re-election in the half-century since the country began electing presidents by direct popular vote. Socialist François Hollande defeated him, becoming only the second Socialist president of the Fifth Republic, following François Mitterrand 31 years ago.
Trailing after first-round voting two weeks ago, Sarkozy swung hard to the right, trying to pick up voters from Marine Le Pen’s National Front party with anti-immigrant themes. Hollande tried a more traditional centrist path — well, centrist by French standards, where Hollande’s proposal for a top tax rate of 75% drew little comment — and held enough of his advantage to seal his victory.
The results in Greece could hardly be more different. Support for traditional parties collapsed, and extreme left- and right-wing parties prospered. It remains to be seen whether anyone can even form a government out of the resulting mess.
Why the different outcomes? Partly it’s different systems. France was voting in a run-off where third- and fourth-place parties were already eliminated. Greece was electing a parliament. And it was doing so in reaction to a European bailout plan that required harsh austerity measures that just about nobody in Greece liked. This mess is the result. From the New York Times:
Starting Monday, the front-runners have three days to try to form a government. But with seven parties expected to enter Parliament, the prospects for stability appeared low.
“It’s a completely fragmented Parliament,” said Loukas Tsoukalis, the president of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, an Athens research institute. “The two former big parties have suffered a defeat which is greater than most people had expected.”
He said that he expected new elections soon. “The question is what happens in between, whether there are any realignments in the Greek political system that provide credible alternatives to protest movements,” Mr. Tsoukalis said. “If this doesn’t happen, then Greece is in deep” trouble, he added.
By Alex Ballingall - Friday, March 9, 2012 at 4:31 PM - 0 Comments
Credit Default Swaps were triggered by Greek’s historic debt restructuring deal, announced this morning,…
Credit Default Swaps were triggered by Greek’s historic debt restructuring deal, announced this morning, which saw a majority of private bondholders accept losses that allowed the Mediterranean country to shave its debt down by more than US$131 billion. Since so many Greek bondholders approved the restructuring deal, the Greek government was able to initiate collective action clauses, effectively forcing bondholders not participating in the deal to accept the losses others had agreed to. As the Wall Street Journal reported, this is what led the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, an organization that rules on credit events, to deem that Greece had defaulted on its debt.
But the ISDA also said that the CDS payments—totaling about US$3.2 billion—are sufficiently spread out and are likely too small to cause significant damage to any single financial institution. That was the big fear among economic analysts regarding the prospect of a Greek debt default. So far, though, those fears don’t appear to have materialized.
By Alex Ballingall - Friday, March 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM - 0 Comments
In yet another careful step away from the financial precipice, Greece announced at dawn…
In yet another careful step away from the financial precipice, Greece announced at dawn that it had clinched a deal with its bondholders that will see the biggest debt overhaul in history. The deal means holders of Greek bonds will take a loss in order to allow the government to change its repayment plans. Greece will thereby reduce its crippling debt load by more than 100 billion euros ($130 billion).
“I wish to express my appreciation to all of our creditors who have supported our ambitious program of reform and adjustment and who have shared the sacrifices of the Greek people in this historic endeavour,” said Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in a statement today.
The deal, which required the support of at least 66 per cent of private bondholders (who end up with about 83 per cent of the face value of their investment), was crucial since it was a precondition to receive a second massive bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, this one worth $170 billion. In 2010, the EU and IMF agreed to funnel $143 billion to help Athens balance its books.
This doesn’t mean Greece is out of the dark. The country’s economy is still in tatters, with austerity measures—as demanded by the country’s international creditors—cutting back consumer purchasing power and contributing to massive unemployment. Greece’s youth unemployment rate, concerning people under 25, is at a staggering 51 per cent. You can bet that the race towards this debt overhaul won’t be the last bit of economic brinkmanship you read about in Greece.
By Alex Ballingall - Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 10:26 AM - 0 Comments
Greece is inching towards a debt swap deal with bondholders and has until Thursday…
Greece is inching towards a debt swap deal with bondholders and has until Thursday at 10 p.m. Athens time to finalize it. The overhaul requires the government to shave $141 billion off Greece’s debt. Failing to do so would likely trigger Greece’s exit from the euro zone, not to mention a deeply damaging default.
Thankfully, Greek officials are “optimistic” that an agreement will be reached in time, since 60 per cent of bondholders have already agreed to the haircut, which will see them lose more than half the value of the bonds they hold. Under Greek law, if 66 per cent of bondholders agree to the overhaul, the government can pass collective action clauses that will force all holders of bonds to accept the losses. Finance Minister Evangelos Vinezelos expects that to happen. “Whoever thinks that they will hold out and be paid in full is mistaken,” he told Reuters on Monday.
It’s a weird message for a finance minister to send, that anybody who invests in our country better expect to lose money. But these are strange and dire times for the Mediterranean country.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 1:39 PM - 0 Comments
Greece is expected to get final authorization to receive $170 billion in bailout funds…
Greece is expected to get final authorization to receive $170 billion in bailout funds Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reports, as Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos meets with European officials. On Feb. 29, Greek lawmakers voted 203-58 in favour of steep spending cuts worth about $4.3 billion. According to Bloomberg News, the cuts affect government workers who will see their pensions and wages slashed:
Pension and wage cuts are reducing state spending and changes to labor rules are liberalizing the jobs market. The measures are also driving the economy deeper into a recession and fanning discontent among Greeks as unemployment has jumped to 21 percent. The economy shrank 6.8 percent last year and is set to contract for a fifth year in 2012.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that investors hoping for insurance compensation from an agreement to reduce the amount Greece owes its bondholders will not see the billions they expected, at least for now:
Heavily indebted Greece and its bondholders agreed on a debt swap last week that would reduce the face value of their holdings by 53.5 percent. (…)
The panel, which had been convened by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, had been asked by investors to rule whether the bond swap agreement constituted a so-called “credit event”. This would have meant that bondholders who hold credit-default swaps — complex financial products that act as insurance against default — would have been paid off.
The committee, meeting in New York and London, ruled that the Greek bond deal was still being carried out and did not yet constitute a credit event — but that the question could come up again.
UPDATE: Greece will have to wait another week before it can secure its bailout funds. The BBC is reporting European leader who met with Prime Minister Papademos said the bailout must await the debt swap with private bondholders on Mar. 8.
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 3:46 PM - 0 Comments
Unless you’ve been covering your ears and screaming every time a piece of economic news crossed your path, you’ve heard about Greece’s bloated bureaucracy and how it’s been crippling the country’s economy for decades. You might also know that the bureaucracy is the hose through which Greece’s political class disseminates favours and cultivates political loyalty, which is why trimming it is such an uphill battle for the wimpy technocratic government of Lucas Papademos.
Finally, if you happen to follow the work of economist Megan Greene, you are also aware that the mountains of paperwork Greek citizens have to wade through for even the most mundane necessities ensure a steady income for notaries, lawyers, tax men, architects and inspectors. And yet, even if you already know all of this, the anecdotal evidence of a country being suffocated by dumb rules remains astounding. Here’s a small sample:
Pilots must be Greek… actually, never mind.
When Canadian entrepreneur Steve Earle set up a seaplane airline to transport rich tourists to Greece’s many gorgeous and poorly connected islands, he was told by a civil servant that all his pilots had to be Greek. But six months after his company had started training what Earle says were the country’s first seaplane pilots, news came that it was actually perfectly acceptable to fill the vacancies with non-European recruits. Among other things that reportedly helped sink Earle’s business were the more than 300 trips his managing director had to make to police stations to “get official affirmations of his signature,” and having to provide engineering specifications for every cleat the company used at its embarkment floats. Continue…
By Gabriela Perdomo - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:16 AM - 0 Comments
Massive protests across the country were not enough to stop Europe’s latest bailout of…
Massive protests across the country were not enough to stop Europe’s latest bailout of Greece, which came loaded with painful austerity measures and strict conditions. Early Tuesday, following 13 hours of debate, eurozone finance ministers, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund agreed to a deal worth approximately $171 billion. In return, Greece has committed to reducing its debt to about 120.5 percent of its gross domestic product by 2020 (it stands at 160 per cent now). This means more cuts, more fiscal reforms and, tacitly, simply less economic and political autonomy.
The good news is a default and the risk of Greece leaving the EU have been averted for now. However, reports as this one by Reuters already speak of “deep pessimism” amongst economists regarding Greece’s ability to turn around for the better. And, as Maclean’s most recent editorial points out, the country’s democracy stands at its weakest point in history: Lucas Papademos, the country’s technocratic and unelected prime minister is completely disconnected from Greeks on the street. It is telling that most media reports about the bailout today fail to quote Papademos’s reaction to the deal, underlining instead what European officials had to say about it.
It remains to be seen whether such a strained political situation can survive long enough to put the bailout to good use.
By the editors - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Lucas Papademos quickly expelled members of the government who opposed the austerity package
Ancient Athenians made no distinction between themselves and their government. Official pronouncements attributed decisions to “the citizens of Athens” and left it at that. Such an inclusive sense of democracy is sadly absent in the modern city.
This week in Athens tens of thousands of protesters, angered by severe new austerity measures proposed by the unelected caretaker government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, set fire to scores of buildings and rampaged throughout town. They were met by riot police lobbing tear gas and stun grenades. And after the package passed, Papademos quickly expelled members of his government who voted against it. This is apparently no time for dissent or debate.
The turmoil in Greece is well earned. Many decades of lavish but unsupportable welfare state spending have left Greece impossibly burdened; its sovereign debt stands at 160 per cent of GDP. And yet the new austerity package could accelerate the already precipitous fall in living standards. The economy shrank by seven per cent last year and unemployment among the volatile 16-24 age group is 46 per cent.
By Gustavo Vieira - Monday, February 13, 2012 at 10:23 AM - 0 Comments
Residents of Athens woke up on Monday to the smell of smouldering buildings and…
Residents of Athens woke up on Monday to the smell of smouldering buildings and tear gas in the air after protesters looted shops, clashed with police and set buildings ablaze Sunday night. Greece’s “night of terror” started when 80,000 people stormed the streets of Athens and other cities across the country to protest the package of austerity measures before Parliament. In Athens alone, 150 shops were looted and 48 buildings were set on fire, including the 19th century Attikon cinema; 100 people were injured and 130 detained in the violence, according to local authorities.
Meanwhile, Greek politicians were busy approving the controversial package of austerity measures, which includes a 22 percent cut to the minimum wage and the elimination of 150,000 government jobs between now and 2015. The vote is just a first step for Greece, according to its European partners. In the words of Austria’s Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, “adopting the austerity package is one thing, implementing it is another.” Greece will now be able to access $172-billion (U.S.) in loans and avoid defaulting on its bonds next month. Still, the fear remains that an eventual Greek bankruptcy could lead to the country being ousted from the eurozone, which could spread panic through the EU itself as well as global markets.