How Greece's debt crisis would affect the U.S.

A look at the city hall of Athens, Ga.

Kai Ryssdal: From the studios of WUGA in Athens, Ga., I'm Kai Ryssdal. Great to have you here on this Monday, it's the 24th of October.

Yes, I know: Athens, Greece, is the unfortunate center of the global economy right now. But A) It's really far away, and B) This is one of those stories where you might actually learn more by staying closer to home.

Chuck Jones: Hi, I am Chuck Jones, I'm director of the Athens convention and visitors bureau. Yes we do have people get confused about which Athens they are calling. And we've had some people who call and think they are contacting Athens, Greece. But then we tell them how exciting a place Athens, Ga., is, and they make think that they are going to Athens, Greece, but by the time we are finished with them, they'll end up coming to Athens, Ga.

In downtown Athens, Ga., right outside Jones' office, there's a statue. It's the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena.

Jones: OK, this Athena statue, she's representing wisdom and everything. We think we have a lot of wisdom here in Athens, Ga. Something on the front is a plaque of sorts that talks about giving back to your city.

115,000 people live in metropolitan Athens, Ga. It's a college town -- the University of Georgia's here. But state and federal budgets being what they are, government spending cuts are squeezing jobs at schools and at other big employers in town.

Which gets us to the Athens, Greece part of the day, and why we came here. We're not just trying to be smart -- what happens there really can affect what happens here.

Consider just this one example: Coca-Cola is a Georgia company, headquartered in Atlanta. It employs more than 3,000 people in this state. But it's even more a global company with a big presence in Greece. And the government there has just imposed a 10 percent sales tax on all soda. So analysts say there could be a huge drop in Coke sales in Greece -- and big hit to the company's bottom line and how many people they employ here.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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