The situation on the ground in Athens [sovereignman]

My friend Illias took a drag of his cigarette as he contemplated my question.

“Our government tells us that this will be a better year. No one really believes them. But all we can do is be optimistic. Too many people are committing suicide.”

His statement probably best sums up the situation in Greece right now. It’s as if the hopelessness has gone stale, and the only thing they have to replace it with is desperate, misguided, faux-optimism. And anger.

There are roughly 11 million people in this country. 3.4 million of them are employed, of which roughly one third work for the government.

1.34 million people are ‘officially’ unemployed. To put this in context, it would be as if there were 36 million officially unemployed in the US.

More startling, if you add the number of ‘inactive’ workers (i.e. those who gave up looking), the total number of unemployed is roughly 57% of the entire Greek work force.

And as you probably know, the situation for young people is even worse. Only 1 in 3 people aged 25 and under has a job.

This phenomenon, sustained for several years now, has cut deeply into the psyche of an entire generation that is growing up without productive work experience or the prospect of improving their lives.

The middle class here has been completely gutted. Aside from a few pockets of wealth, the country is either unemployed or working poor, hamstrung by debilitating debt.

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The Euro Legacy: In Greece, Children Pick Through Trash Cans For Food [Zerohedge]

“We have reached a point where children are coming to school hungry,” as with an estimated 10% of Greek elementary and middle school students suffering from ‘food insecurity’, the troubled nation has fallen to the level of some African countries. As the NY Times reports, unlike the US, Greek schools do not offer subsidized cafeteria lunches. Exacerbated by the austerity measures including cuts in subsidies for larger families, the cost has become insurmountable for many. With 26% of Greek households on an ‘economically weak diet’, children are starting to steal for food and picking through trash cans as they proclaim, “our dreams are crushed.” What is frightening is the speed at which it is happening, “a year ago it wasn’t like this,” as one family talks of the ‘cabbage-based diet’ which it supplements by foraging for snails in nearby fields. Programs are being started to help from wealthier Greeks, but as one parent said, “unless the EU acts, we’re done for.”

 

Via NY Times,

As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.

 

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Greek Unemployment Soars To New Record, 56.6% Of 15-24 Year Olds Without Job [Zerohedge]

Judging by ongoing momentum moves in various European stock and bond market indicators, one could be left with the impression that something in the continent is actually improving. And whilehope of improvement is certainly be high, the reality is vastly different as confirmed by the just released Greek unemployment data, which saw the broad unemployment rate soar to a fresh record high of 26.8% in October (24.1% males, 30.4% females – that’s nearly one in three), up from a pre-revision 26.0% in September, and up from 19.7% a year ago, the youth (15-24 age group) unemployment rising again to a new all time high of 56.6% (up from 56.4%), and the ratio of those employed (3.68MM) to unemployed (1.34MM) plunging to a record low 2.75x. At this rate it may well hit 1.00x quite soon. But even sooner, perhaps in a few months, the total number of inactive workers (3.34MM) will surpass all those who are working. In short, the Greek collapse is just getting worse and worse.

 

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Happy New Year Germany: Greece Needs A New Bailout [Zerohedge]

When it comes to the main sovereign story of 2011 and 2012, namely the endless bailout of Greece, now in its third iteration, the conventional wisdom is that courtesy of the near elimination of the country’s private sovereign debt and the fact that its official foreign debt held by benevolent taxpayer funded globalist powers (IMF, ECB, EFSF) has been mostly converted into a zero-coupon, perpetual piece of paper, the country is fine. After all it has no debt interest expense to finance, and the only shortfall it has to plug is that created by its primary budget deficit (which as we showed earlier is “improving” on a year over year basis not because the economy is improving, but because the Greek government is simply refusing to pay its bills). So there is nothing more to do but sit back and wait while the economy slowly recovers, the unprecedented internal imbalance with Germany is gradually aligned, are the unemployment rate drops, (while hoping that the population does not die out first) right? Wrong.

 

 

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The Humiliation of Greece [GolemXIV]

It’s not often we get to witness the moment when a leader sells his nation for money. Such a moment occurred in Athens last week.

At the behest and on the authority of Prime Minister Samaras and President Papoulias, an amendment to Greek law was drawn up last week. There was no debate in parliament, the vote is still to be purchased. But unless this amendment is challenged or changed, the change it will bring in will alter the future of Greece and its people every bit as much as the day Greece joined the Euro, perhaps even as much as the day Democracy was re-instated after the long rule of the Generals. Only this change will be a giant step away from Democracy and towards subservience to an unelected elite.

You can read the law in its original here. Here is a translation of the key part.

«The Beneficiary Member State, the Bank of Greece and the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund each hereby irrevocably and unconditionally waives all immunity to which it is or may become entitled, in respect of itself or its assets, from legal proceedings in relation to this Amendment Agreement, including, without limitation, immunity from suit, judgment or other order, from attachment, arrest or injunction prior to judgment, and from execution and enforcement against its assets to the extent not prohibited by mandatory law».

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Greece Shows What Happens When The Welfare Ponzi Ends [Zerohedge]

When no more money flows in, to fund outflows, then the jig is up for the pension fund ponzi. This, as evidenced by the ‘punching, kicking, and tearing at clothes’ that a Greek pension fund manager endured recently, is exactly what has begun in Greece. As Reuters reports, the fund manager “enraged” here audience when she asked the Greek journalists to ‘double their contributions’ to their social security fund, and spent the night in hospital for her efforts to keep the ponzi alive. It was a brutal sign of the fury many Greeks feel at the way the country’s debt crisis has dashed hopes of a comfortable old age. As New Democracy’s leader noted: “From July 2010 it was obvious that a debt restructuring would be inevitable. While foreign banks were unloading their Greek government bonds, no one moved to tell Greek pension funds to do something, that a haircut was coming.” Under a law passed in 1997 and refined in 2007, pension funds have to place 77% of any surplus cash in a pool of ‘common capital’ which must be invested only in Greek government bonds or Treasury bills (T-bills). So the PSI saved German and French banks but crushed Greek pensioners…

 

Via Reuters:

For hours the leader of the Greek journalists’ social security fund had been chairing ameeting about disastrous losses on retirement savings caused by the country’s economic collapse. “She tried to present herself as the fund’s savior and asked (members) to double contributions to 6 percent of salaries,” said one of those present that night at the Titania hotel. Spanopoulou, 58, did not succeed.

Greek Debt Buyback Update [acting-man]

It’s All ‘Voluntary’, Honest Injun!

We recently discussed that the mooted Greek debt buyback was getting more expensive as hedge funds flock into the debt to make hay from this latest desperate ploy. This has resulted in the truly bizarre spectacle of eurocrats trying to talk the value of the bonds of a peripheral country in trouble down. Pity there’s no ratings agency around willing to deliver a downgrade right now.

Now come reports that the Greek government has magnanimously decided to keep participation in the buyback ‘voluntary’ for now.

We hadn’t been aware hitherto that a plan to steal money from the bond holders outright was actually even considered, but apparently that is actually the case – why would they otherwise stress that it’s all ‘voluntary’? As soon as the buyback is no longer ‘voluntary’, there is absolutely no way anymore for bondholders to ever get their money back at par of course.

 

 

 

 

Reuters reports:

 

“Greece has hired Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley to conduct a voluntary buy back of its debt, a senior finance ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Eurogroup finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed earlier this week to conduct the buy back by mid-December, as part of measures to make Greece’s debt sustainable.

Private sector analysts have since raised questions over whether it would attract enough interest from bondholders to deliver the promised savings and how it would be funded. “We hope that early next week, if possible on Monday, the Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) will publish the invitation for the buy back,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Deutsche Bank will be the lead manager. Deutsche and Morgan Stanley will act together as deal managers, the official added.

One proposal is to lend Greece around 10 billion euros from the euro zone’s rescue fund EFSF, which would allow it to buy around 30 billion euros worth of debt, cutting its outstanding obligations by around 20 billion euros.

Officials have said that the repurchase has a target cost of around 35 cents on the euro. The Greek official, however, said that Athens has not determined yet at what price it will offer to buy back the debt from private bondholders.

A repurchase at 35 cents on the euro is seen as a golden investment opportunity for hedge funds which have bought Greek bonds at rock-bottom prices.

But this is less certain for Greek banks and pension funds, which hold combined nearly 30 billion euros of Greek debt, about half of the outstanding Greek bonds in the hands of private investors.

Concerns that the buyback would be imposed on Greek banks at a price that would be unfavorable to them led their shares to plunge since Tuesday. “At this moment, we intend the buy back to be voluntary,” the official said.”

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Greeks turn to the forests for fuel as winter nears [Guardian]

Wood poacher's warehouse

A wood poacher’s warehouse near Mount Pelion, Greece. Illegal logging has recently taken on epidemic proportions. Photograph: Despoina Vafeidou/AFP/Getty Images

It is early Sunday. The sun has barely risen above the chestnut forest that lies somewhere near the crest of Mount Pelion, but loggers’ pick-up trucks are already streaming through the muddy slush, their cargo bouncing in the back. Theirs are rich pickings, much in demand as winter envelopes the villages and towns of an increasingly poverty-strickenGreece. As they pass, they do not look up because many do not have permits to do what they have just done.

From their new home a little further on, Yiannis Chadziathanasiou and Natasa Rempati watch the ebb and flow of this traffic. So, too, do the residents of Tsagarada, the picturesque hamlet where the sound of chainsaws pierces the morning air. “Things are getting desperate,” says Chadziathanasiou, who clothed Greek celebrities before he moved to the countryside. “You hear all the time of people illegally clearing forests for firewood. It’s horrible if you’re a green like me.”

In their wellington boots and designer jeans, the couple stand out in Tsagarada. Like most middle class Europeans raised in cities, nature is a new world and one that does not come naturally to them. Until last year, both enjoyed successful careers in fashion and architecture. “But then we did our sums,” said 29-year-old Rempati, whose firm had designed hospitals and metro stations before being forced to close down. “And although we were both earning good salaries, taking home around €3,500 a month, we were really squeezed. There was never a euro left over. Our heating bill alone cost €3,000 and that was before the €500 we spent on petrol and all the new taxes. We were stressed and really anxious and didn’t think we could afford to go through another winter in Athens.”

 

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Greek companies face ‘annihilation’ amid debt crisis [Telegraph]

Greece’s recession-hit businesses face “annihilation”, a leading chamber of commerce has warned, as a fatal combination of falling sales and job cuts meant the country was in its worst economic shape for 14 years.

Greece's recession-hit businesses face

“Returning to 1984 purchasing power levels, 1998 employment levels and 1999 salary levels will not help Greece’s economy in 2013,” said Vassilis Korkidis, chairman of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (Esee).

The association, representing a sector which employs nearly 18pc of the Greek workforce, presented an annual study forecasting a further drop in sales and job cuts in an economy where the unemployment rate currently exceeds 25pc.

More than 40pc of limited liability companies and 70.6pc of general and limited partnerships expect a fall in sales, and one in three businesses in both categories expects to shed workers next year, the report showed.

“If this situation continues, the trader sector… will be threatened with annihilation,” Mr Korkidis said.

“The recipe of successive (fiscal overhauls) appears to have failed,” he said.

 

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‘Nazis out!’ Greek protesters attack conference, throw coffee at German diplomat

Dozens of Greek activists protesting austerity policies broke into a conference and clashed with police in a protest against a German government official.

Law enforcement officers used truncheons and teargas to disperse some 250 activists in the northern city of Thessaloniki, where a meeting of Greek and German mayors was taking place.

Riot police formed a shield around German Consul Wolfgang Hoelscher-Obermaier, who was attending the event, after some of the protesters stormed into the conference center complex. The intruders were trying to pelt the diplomat with bottles of water and coffee.

The protestors changed “Nazis out” and “This will not pass”, while holding mock gravestones and banners proclaiming “Fight until the end!”

A protester holds a plackard of  German Chancellor Angela Merkel featuring a Hitler moustache near the Greek parliament in Athens during a demonstration against the vist of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on October 9, 2012. (AFP Photo / Louisa Gouliamaki)

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Greece trapped in the middle of IMF, EU dispute, no end in sight [globalpost]

GENEVA — It was only last spring thatCitigroup had predicted the chances of Greece leaving the Euro were between 50 and 90 percent.

Now the so-called “Grexit” is hardly discussed after euro zone leaders and the European Central Bank have vowed to do what it takes to keep Greece in the monetary union.

Yet, Greece still walks a tightrope, forced to enact savage cuts simply to stay solvent for just a few months or weeks.

Greece has been all but locked out of the international long-term debt market for the foreseeable future, instead relying on bailouts from the EU and IMF to pay its creditors.

This reliance on bailouts has led to immense uncertainty in Greek economic life — a feeling of insecurity which has trickled down to Greek society.

In the latest close call, the Greek government held an emergency auction of short-term treasury bills Tuesday to stave off bankruptcy expected as early as Friday.

Without the sale, said the Associated Press, Greece would have been unable to repay five billion Euros in maturing bonds that come due this week.

This mini-crisis, hardly reported in the media — likely given its complexity and because it is an all-too-common occurrence in Greece these days — is a mere blip on the timeline of Greece’s tragic narrative.

It also comes during a wider story about tensions brewing between Greece’s creditors and economic overlords: the IMF, euro zone finance ministers and the European Central Bank.

Euro zone finance ministers, headed by Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean Paul Juncker, have agreed to give Greece two years beyond its 2020 deadline to bring the debt to GDP ratio to 120 percent — still extraordinarily high in relative terms and double what the EU considers sustainable.

In an unusual move, IMF chief Christine Lagarde disagreed with the decision and said that Greece should stick to the 2020 target.

The IMF, which has dealt with structural adjustment scenarios many times before, wants more pressure on the Greek government.

“The IMF has been dealing with these kinds of situations for a number of years and believes its formula to be a proper one,” Alan Gayle, a senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta, told GlobalPost.

Gayle also said that pressure is on the IMF to make sure their lending is being used as it intended.

“The IMF is putting out the money of its lenders and it has a responsibility to be a good steward of the money that has been contributed by them,” he added.

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Is A 15%-Plus Devaluation Coming For Spain And Greece? [Zerohedge]

Countries that have the luxury of their own exchange rate are able to eliminate any loss in competitiveness through an exchange rate depreciation, but (as is broadly recognized by now) UBS reminds that in a single currency area the only route available is an adjustment in relative wages.

In order to restore competitiveness, the periphery will have to endure a period of below-average inflation equal to the disequilibrium that an exchange rate adjustment would have delivered. While the fantasy of an orderly Greek exit is gradually being dispelled – as the market recognizes the almost instantaneous bank runs that would be exaggerated from current deposit withdrawals in Spain, Portugal, and Ireland – the euro’s survival with any status quo is simply impossible – begging the question of ‘so how do they get to the other side?’

The answer, instead of instantaneous devaluation (exit) - akin to tearing the (admittedly big) band-aid off, the devaluation will be undertaken over time to restore competitiveness, the periphery will have to endure a period of below-average inflation equal to the disequilibrium that an exchange rate adjustment would have delivered. This equilibrium ‘devaluation’ is impossible to know with certainty, but UBS estimates it is over 20% for Greece and 15% for Spain.

 

Via UBS:

Competitiveness pressures and inflation convergence

Long-run inflation trends in the eurozone will be driven by competitive pressures. Countries that have the luxury of their own exchange rate are able to eliminate any loss in competitiveness through an exchange rate depreciation, but in a single currency area the only route available is an adjustment in relative wages.

In order to restore competitiveness, the periphery will have to endure a period of below-average inflation equal to the disequilibrium that an exchange rate adjustment would have delivered.

Indeed, this is exactly the approach we adopt to estimate the long-run inflation prospects in a single currency zone – we quantify the size of the exchange rate disequilibrium and assume that the disequilibrium is eliminated gradually over a period of time.

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Golden Dawn takes advantage of recession ravaged Greece [Telegraph]

Thugs wearing the black T-shirts of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party are carrying out attacks on immigrant markets and in public squares, according to the United Nations, with victims speaking of areas in the capital which are now strictly off limits.

Malik Abdulbasset, an Egyptian-born shopkeeper, found himself the target of one of the mobs on Wednesday night after the barber across the road was stabbed during a robbery.

Golden Dawn members led a crowd of enraged locals in a protest on Mikhail Voda St that turned violent despite the presence of riot police.

While no one witnessed the attack on the barber, residents were adamant the assailant was black.

After battering his Egyptian assistant, the mob turned on Mr Abdulbasset, who had defied police to keep his shop open.

 

 

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Greece – Corruption Pays [acting-man]

Creditors Getting Ready to Pay Up Again …

As Bloomberg recently reported, the official lenders to Greece are getting close to reaching an agreement on the disbursement of fresh funds to Greece’s insolvent government:

 

„Greece’s creditors, known collectively as the troika, said they expect a staff-level agreement in coming days that would pave the way for the next payment of aid funds to the debt-stricken country.

The European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund said “most of the core issues” have been settled, according to a joint statement e-mailed today.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras faced down a growing revolt among coalition partners over changes to labor rules demanded by the troika as he has tried to come up with an additional 13.5 billion euros ($17.7 billion) of austerity to appease Greece’s creditors. The endorsement may bolster Samaras as he attends his first European Union summit tomorrow where he will begin lobbying for a two-year extension of the country’s bailout target.

“The authorities and staff teams agreed on most of the core measures needed to restore the momentum of reform and pave the way for the completion of the review,” the statement said.

A final deal will help unlock a 31 billion-euro aid installment that the country needs to avoid a second default. Greece remains on life support with the country mired in its fifth year of a recession that has shrunk the economy by almost 20 percent.

Samaras faces growing dissent within his multi-party coalition over the troika’s demand to overhaul some labor market rules.“

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Desperation: Greece To Allow Sale of Expired Foods to Citizens [SHTFPlan]

In just a few years we’ve seen the country of Greece go from being a popular tourist destination in one of the world’s largest economic regions, to being on the brink of complete and utter collapse. With untold billions in private and public sector debt, the situation in Greece (and other debt laden European countries like Spain and Italy) has devolved to such an extent that some EU member nations are mobilizing their military personnel in preparation for full spectrum meltdown across the entire region.

Jobs are so scarce that many have been forced into underground barter economies and family farming to make ends meet. From massive austerity spending cuts that have torn to shreds the government social safety net, to shortages in critical life saving medicines and the near breakdown of the nation’s power grid, Greece is experiencing all of the overt signs of a nation on its last leg.

Now, with food prices rising to unattainable levels for the majority of the Greek population, the government is taking the desperate step of allowing merchants to sell expired foods, presumably at cheaper prices, so that poverty-stricken Greeks have at least something to put on their tables, regardless of the health risks posed:

Voz Populi (Google Translated):

Greece will allow the sale of expired food at a price lower than the original, in a move that the government has not been able to justify but consumer groups have interpreted as evidence of their inability to stop the escalating cost of commodities.

The regulations exclude meat and dairy from the list of perishables that can be sold and sets a ceiling dates you can continue marketing. Thus, foods in which the expiration date is indicated by the day and the month, may continue on the shelf for another week. In the event that the “best before” only month and year point, the sale may be extended for one month, and in the event that the date indicated year alone, the sale date may be extended by one quarter.

Though Moraitakis Efe declined to specify the reasons for this decision and merely noted that the legislation already existed, consumer groups and even government agencies have criticized the measure. “Virtually admit their inability to control prices,” Efe reported Tsiafutis Victor Consumers Association ‘Quality of Life’, one of the oldest in Greece.

 

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‘Out of Greece!': Special forces march in uniform, chant in anti-Merkel protest [RT]

Scores of commandos, sailors and paratroopers in their uniforms gathered in Athens on the day of the German Chancellor’s visit – but not to help with keeping the peace. Instead, they staged a march, chanting “Merkel, out of Greece!”

Marching in formation, they also chanted “Together, together, Nazis get out!”

The crowd in the street supported the reservists with rousing cheers. Many of the viewers joined the protesters in their disciplined march.

The demonstration was one of many anti-Merkel protests to hit Athens on Tuesday, as some 50,000 demonstrators took to the streets. The rallies had strong anti-Nazi sentiment. At one occasion demonstrators burned a swastika.

Most of the Tuesday protests went peacefully, but some violence erupted as several dozen demonstrators clashed with police. Around 200 people were detained in the result of the clashes.

 

 

 

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7,000 police to protect Angela Merkel during Athens visit [Telegraph]

Ms Merkel is due to land in Greece tomorrow morning for talks with her counterpart Antonis Samaras and president Carolos Papoulias. But she is likely to face angry protests in a country where many feel their already-struggling economy has been dealt further harm by austerity measures demanded in return for a bail-out.

Greece is in its fifth year of recession and unemployment has soared to 25pc. The country is currently in negotiations with the troika (representatives from the IMF, European Commission and ECB) over whether it has made enough progress implementing cuts and tax hikes to release its next €11.5bn tranche of bail-out cash, without which it faces bankruptcy by November.

Alexis Tsipras, who leads the opposition Syriza party in Greece, said: “She does not come to support Greece, which her policies have brought to the brink. She comes to save the corrupt, disgraced and servile political system. We will give her the welcome she deserves.”

Around 7,000 police will be on patrol on the streets of Athens, backed up by rooftop snipers, water cannon and a helicopter, while 300 members of the coastguard have also been drafted-in to bolster the security operation.

As well as the large police presence, all large gatherings and rallies have been banned in large parts of Athens (shown in the map below) from 9am to 10pm to “preserve the peace”.

 

 

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Greek Privatization Chief Predicts Bonanza [CNBC]

Greece could become “an El Dorado for investors” as it moves decisively to sell off infrastructure assets, the new head of the country’s Privatization agency has said.

Takis Athanasopoulos expects the disposal of DEPA, the state natural gas utility, and its sister company DESFA, a gas distributor, to stimulate a drive to raise 19 billion euros ($24.88 billion) by the end of 2015, as agreed with Greece’s international creditors.

Mr. Athanasopoulos is confident he can pull off the landmark energy sale by early next year, opening the way for a series of infrastructure deals that would also create thousands of jobs to promote economic recovery.

“From now on, we should expect sharp criticism if we fail to deliver… The prime minister and our [European] partners are pressing hard for the process to move ahead,” Mr. Athanasopoulos said in a Financial Times interview.

“If we can change the psychology, Greece could become an El Dorado for investors. Our advantage is that the country isn’t saturated in any sector – especially tourism.”

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Greeks work the longest hours in the EU; and other facts about the Greek labor markets [SoberLook]

There has some confusion about the labor market situation in Greece. To clarify, here are the latest statistics:

1. Greek official unemployment rate is just under 24%.

2. Greek youth unemployment is the highest in the Eurozone, just under 54%.

 

 

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Max Keiser: latest on Greek economic crisis

Why Merkel Wants To Keep Greece in Euro Zone [SpiegelOnline]

By Konstantin von Hammerstein, Christian Reiermann and Christoph Schult

Officers from Greece's police, fire brigade and coast guard stage a symbolic hanging in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens on Sept. 6. to protest against austerity policies.

DPA

Officers from Greece’s police, fire brigade and coast guard stage a symbolic hanging in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens on Sept. 6. to protest against austerity policies.

Angela Merkel has made a surprising U-turn in her policy on Greece. The German chancellor now wants to stop Athens from leaving the euro zone at all costs — even if it means massaging the figures in the upcoming troika report. For the German leader, it is essential to avoid the consequences of a Grexit before national elections next year.

 

Mantras are short, formulaic phrases that are repeated over and over for meditative purposes. They can be spoken, sung, whispered, recited mentally or even written down and eaten.

 

The German chancellor has recently opted for the spoken variety, which is the conventional form. Angela Merkel’s mantra consists of a short German sentence. It translates as: “We are waiting for the troika report.” She repeats it whenever the opportunity arises — such as two weeks ago, when Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras visited Berlin.

 

One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to see through Merkel’s maneuver: The chancellor wants to buy time. She hopes to calm the general public and the notoriously nervous financial markets through meditative repetition — and ultimately create the impression that it actually matters what the troika finds out during its mission to Greece.

But it doesn’t. In reality, Merkel has already made up her mind. After long hesitation, she has sided with French President François Hollande and the European Commission. The report from the troika — which consists of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) and which departed on its fact-finding tour last week — will undoubtedly conclude that Greece can remain in the euro zone.

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Greek Finance Ministry Calculating German War Reparations Bill [Bloomberg]

Greece’s Finance Ministry will calculate the country’s claim for World War II reparations against Germany, Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said.

The General Accounting Office will make the calculation for the first time, Staikouras said today in response to a question from a lawmaker from the Independent Greeks party. The ministry has begun collecting archival material to be examined by a group of experts, he said.

“The German reparations are a particularly complex legal issue and subject to study and settlement at an international level in accordance with the rules of international law,” Staikouras said. “The case is still outstanding, and as a country we reserve the right and the possibility to manage it to a satisfactory conclusion.”

Some Greek politicians have evoked memories of the country’s Nazi occupation during World War II since the start of the country’s debt crisis. During the country’s election campaigns in May and June Independent Greeks demanded Germany pay reparations.

Greece has in the past decade had to juggle claims on war reparations from Germany with close bilateral relations between the countries. The claims include compensation for loans the country was forced to make to Germany during the Nazi occupation.

 

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Work Those Greeks! Advent of Modern Slavery? [The Daily Bell]

EU Says Greeks Should Work Six-Day Week: Report … In the leaked letter, reported in The Guardian newspaper, the European Commission, European Central Bank, andInternational Monetary Fund call for Athens to implement the measure as part of the bailout agreement with lenders. According to the paper, the letter states that more flexibility must be implemented to work schedules, including working into the weekend by increasing the number of maximum working days to six. The paper printed the following extract from the letter: “Increase the number of maximum workdays to six days per week for all sectors. Increase flexibility of work schedules; set the minimum daily rest to 11 hours; delink the working hours of employees from the opening hours of the establishment; eliminate restrictions on minimum/maximum time between morning and afternoon shifts; allow the consecutive two-week leave to be taken anytime during the year in seasonal sectors.” – CNBC

Dominant Social Theme: If you are Greek, you are lazy and need to work harder. You have weak blood.

Free-Market Analysis: Are leaks always a mistake? Someone may have wanted this memo disseminated and we figure it might be the troika itself: the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

These are the new powers in Europe and represent the construction of a new society that one could call “technocracy.” Of course, we know where technocracy comes from. It comes from Plato and his idea of philosopher kings.

Plato felt that a handful of very smart people should rule the world and the power elite feels the same way. But there is a difference between policy and publicity. Policy matures via publicity. Only when the public comes to understand a specific policy does it have the requisite impact.

The policies come from a Western power elite. It has media arms like Tavistock and whole geographical regions serve its bidding. London’s City is the likely brain; Washington DC is the muscle; Israel provides black ops and the Vaticanoffers religiosity.

It serves the purposes of these cold top men to portray their venture as “magical” and “religious.” It helps them to hide and, unfortunately, some in the alternative media for reasons of prejudice, business or simple naïveté are willing to propagate the desired memes.

But, again, that’s how they work:

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U.S. companies prep in case Greece exits euro [pressdemocrat]

Even as Greece desperately tries to avoid defaulting on its debt, U.S. companies are preparing for what was once unthinkable: that Greece will soon be forced to leave the eurozone.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has looked into filling trucks with cash and sending them over the Greek border so clients can continue to pay local employees and suppliers in the event money is unavailable. Ford has configured its computer systems so they will be able to immediately handle a new Greek currency.

No one knows just how broad the shock waves from a Greek exit would be, but big U.S. banks and consulting firms have also been doing a brisk business advising their corporate clients on how to prepare for a splintering of the eurozone. That is a striking contrast to the assurances from European politicians that the crisis is manageable and that the currency union can be held together. On Thursday, the European Central Bank will consider measures that would ease pressure on Europe’s cash-starved countries.

 

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GREEK DEBT BREAKING….Samaras unable to sell further austerity to Coalition partners [The Slog]

Greek PM returns home to political vortex

The Slog understands that today (Wed 29th) Greek PM Antonis Samaras returned to meet with his Coalition partners – PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis – but was unable to get their agreement (or anything near it) to the full €13 billion in cuts for 2013-2014 that the Troika insists must be forthcoming before further bailout aid is handed over.

A point of order here: the ‘aid’ will be placed into an escrow account from which approved bondholder creditors can make withdrawals. Almost none of it will go to propping up the social role of the Greek State.

Greek Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras admitted that only the “basic scenario” had been scoped out. He tried to fudge the fundamental problem as ”of minor significance”, but the reality is that more wage cuts in senior civil service categories such as the senior admin officers, the military, the judiciary, and orthodox priests are needed; and these are emphatically opposed by New Democracy’s junior Coalition partners.

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