In this commentary at the Telegraph today, Ambrose Evans Pritchard seems none too optimistic about the chances of an austerity-fueled economic revival in Greece, citing the rather shocking comparison to the U.S. below about recent job losses.
In November alone 126,000 Greeks lost their jobs in a country of 11 million, equivalent to three and a half million Americans in a single month. The unemployment rate jumped from 18.2pc to 20.9pc.
This has not yet fed through into social breakdown. Greeks receive unemployment support for an average of thirty weeks, with a ceiling of €454 a month, according to Professor Manos Matsaganis of Athens University. Those with civil service tenure are placed on labour reserve for two years at half their basic pay, or a third their actual pay.
Once these cushions are exhausted, Greeks are on their own. The monthly ratchet effect will then become painfully evident. It is why the Orthodox primate Hieronymos II warned in a letter to the prime minister that ever further doses of the same “deadly medicine” is becoming dangerous.
“The voices of the desperate, the voices of Greeks are being provocatively ignored. Fear is giving way to rage and the risk of a social explosion can no longer be ignored by those who give orders and those who execute their lethal recipes,” he said.
Anyone looking for alternative solutions to what ails Greece should consider a recent comment by Jeremy Grantham about central bank policy: “Well, I wouldn’t start from here”.
When the government accounts for 40 percent or more of a nation’s GDP, you’ve basically purchased yourself a one-way ticket to a much lower standard of living and, if you haven’t already done so, have a look at last week’s New York Times story – The Way Greeks Live Now. I finally got around to reading it the other day and it’s well worth a look.