Greek Debt Crisis

Protests in Athens over latest proposed cuts

Stephen Beard Feb 10, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Greeks are striking again today to protest deep cuts the government wants to make in order to get more bailout money. But euro zone finance ministers say the austerity plan submitted yesterday wasn’t good enough; they want more details.

Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is in Athens and he joins us now. Good morning, Stephen.

Stephen Beard: Hello Stephen.

Hobson: So the rest of the euro zone is clearly not happy with the Greek deal. How do the Greeks feel about it?

Beard: They’re not happy with it either. Many Greeks say it just piles more misery onto them. This country’s now in its fifth consecutive year of recession; unemployment is 20 percent and rising. Many Greeks say the budget cuts will just make matters worse.

Hobson: So where do we go from here? What happens next?

Beard: What is supposed to happen next is that the Greek parliament will meet on Sunday and the Europeans have said it will have to ratify the measures before Greece gets a single cent of new bailout money. Euro zone finances ministers say they will be watching like hawks, and they’ll meet again next Wednesday to review progress.

Hobson: Stephen, is this getting any closer to some kind of resolution?

Beard: It doesn’t look like it, does it? But no one can quite believe that Greece will be allowed to slide into a messy default.

Economist Aristos Doxiadis says this would be a disaster for Greece.

Aristos Doxiadis: Banks will have to close down. Hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs in a period of weeks. And then we’ll have to start from the beginning from a very, very low base.

And the consequences for global financial markets could be dire. There seems to be a game of chicken going on here. But there is a real deadline: if Greece doesn’t get its bailout money by March 20th, it will default.

Hobson: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard joining us from Athens, Greece. Stephen, thanks.

Beard: OK Jeremy.

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