While leaders try to reassure their people, Greeks worry for the future
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Jeremy Hobson: The ratings agency Moody’s downgraded two big French banks this morning because of concerns that they are too exposed to Greek debt and don’t have enough cash. Meanwhile, the leader of Greece will speak by phone with the leaders of Germany and France later today as all three try to calm nerves across Europe.
For more on the situation in Greece — which seems to change by the hour — let’s bring in journalist John Psaraopoulus. He’s in Athens. Good morning.
John Psaropoulos: Good morning.
Hobson: Does it look less likely or more likely that Greece is to going to default on its debt?
Psaropoulos: I would say less likely because it’s a sign of reassurance from Europe’s main eurozone powers that they are lending their support to Greece and expressing concern about the Greek reform program. The Greek public is extremely worried about the possibility of a default or an exit from the euro, and this sort of contact with European leaders is reassuring.
Hobson: Well what about that idea of an exit from the euro? Is that looking like a real possibility?
Psaropoulos: It’s something that both the European leaders and the Greek government vehemently deny is anywhere on the horizon. However, as the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel revealed earlier this week in an article, the German finance ministry has been working on contingency planning for the possibility of a Greek default and what effects that might have on the euro, which the German government did not subsequently deny. So, outside of the official statements, these fears are being seen as a possibility in the mid-term future.
Hobson: What does it feel like to be Greek right now? I imagine you’re not too popular amongst your European neighbors.
Psaropoulos: I think many of my fellow Greeks that I speak to feel very embarrassed about the image that Greece has now acquired in the world. But mostly, most people feel very concerned about their children’s future, because the crisis — it is now fully understood — is long-term. And what people are afraid of is that they will lose middle-class status, and that the Greek economy as a whole will simply drop off the world map for about 10 years. And they are seriously thinking about sending their children abroad.
Hobson: John Psaraopoulus, a journalist in Athens. Thanks so much for joining us.
Psaropoulos: My pleasure, thank you.
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