Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Greece may have receded from the front pages of many U.S. newspapers, but the effects of austerity continue on

The past few weeks the focus of much of the media world has been on the continue Eurozone crisis as it effects Italy, as well as the much publicized rejection of a deal by the U.K.'s Prime Minister David Cameron.

But it would be unwise to think that the situation in Greece has somehow improved, or that the installation of a technocrat to replace Prime Minister George Papandreou has suddenly merited the country's lack of coverage. In fact, things seem to be heating up anew.

Last night the Athens News reported that the country's budget deficit had widened, despite the severe austerity measures thrust on the nation. In fact, the News used the term "austerity-fuelled recession" in recognition that the budget cutbacks that have resulted in layoffs are holding back any recovery, not leading to improvement as their advocates had predicted.

New Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is a former
vice president of the European Central Bank.

But the advocates of austerity are in control now as witness the International Monetary Fund's envoy Poul Thomsen's call for more layoffs. "Greece might have to accept involuntary redundancies ... and address the legacy of too high and inflexible wages," Thomsen is quoted by the Athens News as saying.

So the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Meanwhile, pharmacies are closed today in Greece as the Panhellenic Pharmacists Association called a strike. Their grievance is that pharmacies can not function due to "the discontinuation of credit by suppliers and the social security funds' failure to pay the money owed to the pharmacies," said the News in its report.

No, things don't seem to be improving just because you are hearing less and less about events in Greece in the local media.

Note: for a good discussion of the issues austerity are creating in Greece, read this post. What I found interesting was that the article quotes from the same articles and the first comment is "The beatings will continue until morale improves, so say the overlords" – rather similar to what I wrote here. Believe me, I didn't read this linked to post until well after writing this post.