Greeks on the move
- Spanish style protests: Up to now, Greeks were occasionally going for a protest against austerity measures. In too many cases, it turned violent and ended quite quickly. Things are different now: inspired by the Spaniards, the Greeks have changed the style: since Sunday, May 22nd, they protest peacefully in front of the parliament building at Syntagma Square in Athens. They blame the government and the banks for corruption, and keep up the pressure. This is much more efficient. A general strike is planned for Saturday, June 4th.
- Talkin’ bout a revolution: German paper Bild reports (German) reports that some of the protesters are talking about a revolution: they don’t have hope in the current ruling party nor the opposition nor the European Union. A third of Greeks already support a revolution.
- Getting Ready for Default: Some aren’t just protesting but acting to protect themselves from a default: Greek banks hold a lot of government bonds. Greek citizens fear that the banks will freeze and begin getting cash: 1.5 billion euros were withdrawn in just two days. This accelerated with the protests.
- Denial that Greek targets missed: A report in Germany said that the conclusion is clear: Greece missed its obligations. This comes as no surprise, but the officials kept on dragging their legs. This was of course denied quickly. For how long?
- No money for you: Jan Kees de Jager, the Dutch finance minister, made it very clear that Greece will get no money if it doesn’t fulfill its obligations. Trust in Greece is very low.
- Working on another bailout: The FT reports a new and severe program for Greece, including international intervention in tax collection and mass privatization of Greek assets is discussed. The ECB continues opposing any sort of Greek restructuring. EU finance ministers meet on June 20th.
- Sarkozi supports restructuring: The French president surprised and changed his attitude towards restructuring, saying that “bondholders should share the pain”. His finance minister, and leading candidate for the IMF, Christine Lagarde, rejects this very strongly.