After a deal that avoids a “Grexit” and a sudden banking collapse, Greek banks remained closed. Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson spoke with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal, who is reporting from Athens, about how Greeks are coping in uncertain times.
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“Make no mistake,” Ryssdal says, “it’s tough here. Unemployment is at 25 percent. If not for the tourists here in downtown Athens, I don’t know what would be going on.” But he also sees the resilience of Greeks, as “people are finding these coping mechanisms.”
One of which has been there the whole time: online banking. Ryssdal, quoting Panayotis Alexakis, an economist from the University of Athens, explains that “it’s a good thing there are capital controls in place, that the banks are closed because it’s convincing people to switch to web banking.” Alexakis himself switched to online banking.
But people still need cash. In the images from Greece, there are lines of 20 or 30 people queuing up for the ATM to withdraw their daily 60 euros. However, Ryssdal has had people tell him how “they see people in front of them with 3 or 4 cards. Like they’ve been deputized by the family to go to the bank for that day and cycle the cards in and out and get as many euros out as they can.”
Ryssdal concludes, “necessity drives invention, I guess.” And whether the invention is rediscovering online banking or gaming the withdrawal limits to feed your family, Greeks on the ground “are doing what they got to do.”
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