Run into more customer service bots lately? Let Marketplace Tech know. More info
Greek Debt Crisis

In Greece, politicians agree on austerity deal

Stephen Beard Feb 9, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: Don’t quote me on this, but there’s a debt deal in Athens. It’s not about bond payments, though, or renegotiating existing debts with the European Union or the IMF. It’s a domestic austerity package — deep budget cuts and labor market reforms, all with the aim of convincing the EU and the IMF that Greece deserves a second bailout.

Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is in Athens. He’s been out on the streets all day.

Stephen Beard: Today Greece’s two main unions digested the details of the plan. And they delivered their considered response: They poured thousands of protesting workers onto the streets and called a two day national strike. Bystanders seem to support the protest.

Theodoros Tsionas says, “I feel betrayed. I have worked all my life. Now my pension’s going down. Greece is being destroyed.”

The plan includes 15,000 public sector job losses and a 22 percent cut in the minimum wage. Greece is deep in recession. Birgitta Vavasaldeh says we don’t need more austerity.

Birgitta Vavasaldeh: I don’t think it’s a solution to the problem of growth. Unless we solve the growth problem, in six months we’ll be in the same position.

But without the bailout Greece could suffer a messy default and a banking collapse. Some Athenians support the bailout plan. Pericles Sofrania says, “I think this could make things better.”

But among public sector workers like Despina Koutzoumba — whose salary last month was cut in half — there is mounting despair and anger.

Despina Koutzoumba: My daughter is 7 years old. Last year I was buying her a book every week, now I can’t do that. She asks me for a book and I can’t afford it.

Greece’s three main political parties have signed up to the bailout the plan. But implementing won’t be easy.

In Athens, I’m Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.