Support Marketplace

Violent protests in Greece as cuts bite

Demonstrators shout slogans in front of Greek Parliament during a protest against plans for new austerity measures June 15, 2011 in Athens, Greece.

Kai Ryssdal: I can't figure out whether Greece is the economic story that keeps on giving or the Little Engine that Couldn't. Maybe it's a little bit of both.

Because this has been a day of deepening political and economic crisis in Athens. The back story -- as perhaps you've heard -- is that the country's struggling to get a handle on its enormous public debt. Prime Minister George Papandreou offered to resign today. Another general strike shut down much of the country. And Athens had its most violent protests in more than a year.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard has the latest from the European Desk in London.


Stephen Beard: Greece is on the verge of bankruptcy and needs a second bailout. But thousands of protesters made it clear today that they are not prepared to pay the price in further cuts in wages, pensions and benefits.

Commentator John Psarapoulos.

John Psarapoulos: What they don't want any more is further austerity measures that punish the people at large. What they do want to see if some prospect of growth.

But under the terms of the bailout by the European Union and the IMF, Prime Minister George Papandreou must deliver more spending cuts. It was because of growing opposition on the streets and in parliament that he offered to step down today. Matina Stevis is with the Eleftheropia newspaper.

Matina Stevis: I think he realized after a defection and two MPs from his own party saying that they would not vote with the party, that it would be extremely difficult for the government to pass these new austerity measures in parliament.

Time is extremely short. Without another bailout, the Greek government could run out of money within a month. The IMF says it may be unable under its constitution to lend Greece anymore.

But the EU may soften its stance, says analyst Megan Greene.

Megan Greene: Probably EU leaders will have to come together with some sort of a second bailout. Otherwise there would be a default. And I don't think that the EU leaders are ready for a disorderly default in Greece just yet.

She says if Greece defaults, the pressure will mount on the Irish and the Portuguese governments to do the same to save their people from further austerity. If three Eurozone countries defaulted on their debts, that really could lead to break up of the Euro.

In London, I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...