Greek Account Deficit 2011 9.9% of GDP
Greek Account Deficit 2008 14.7% of GDP
GDP estimate (3rd quarter):-7.2%
GDP estimate (2nd quarter):-6.3%
Population of Athens:
2012 estimates non-Greek immigrants at over 800,000 (legal) and 350,000+ (illegal) in Greece.
Rick Steves' Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese amazon.com
Nice interactive world map that shows the credit ratings for sovereign nations around the planet. That's right: Greece has a burning red "substantial risk" rating at present.
With national ratings and global banks all experiencing a phenomenon of credit rating 'adjustments', I don't know for how long this chart will be accurate.
Entire chart at chartbin.com
Bust: Greece, the Euro and the Sovereign Debt Crisis - By Matthew Lynn amazon.com
Greece's 'Odious' Debt: The Looting of the Hellenic Republic by the Euro, the Political Elite and the Investment Community - By Jason Manolopoulos amazon.com
Understanding the Crisis in Greece: From Boom to Bust - By Theodore Pelagidis amazon.com
The Imminent Crisis: Greek Debt and the Collapse of the European Monetary Union amazon.com
Eyewitness Greece - Athens and the Mainland - 352 Pages
"It seemed almost too good to be true: For months, relative stability had returned to Greece, and fears that the country would exit the euro had faded like a bad dream. But a political firestorm that ignited here last week after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras dared to fire a swath of once-untouchable civil servants may threaten to undo all that.
On Monday, Greece faced the most serious political crisis since Mr. Samaras took power exactly a year ago. After issuing an order last week to immediately close the state-run Hellenic Broadcasting Corp. — setting off a wave of protests and sympathy strikes — his government coalition narrowly avoided unraveling, at least for now.
...On Monday night Mr. Samaras was forced to face down the members of his fragile coalition, who were seeking to reverse a decision that some of them have called an authoritarian maneuver designed to keep Greece in the good graces of its much-despised creditors.
As the government met behind closed doors, one of Greece’s highest courts ruled that Mr. Samaras acted legally in ordering the dismantling of the state broadcaster, ERT, a move aimed at cutting some of the thousands of civil service job cuts demanded by Greece’s creditors. But judges decided that it was illegal for ERT to be taken off the airwaves."
"The Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, requested the assistance of his ambassador in Tel Aviv after it emerged that one of the companies keeping ERT on air was owned by an Israeli firm.
Defiant journalists occupying ERT studios in Athens and Thessaloniki have been able to keep an unbroken skeleton news service going since 11 June, when Samaras ordered its abrupt closure, thanks to the European Broadcasting Union which provided technical facilities to continue transmitting into Greek homes via three satellites.
Officials in Athens confirmed that Greece's ambassador to Israel, Spyros Lambrinis, had held talks with the Israeli government after it became clear that RRsat, a privately-owned local company and subcontractor of the EBU, was continuing to transmit ERT via its uplink facilities in Greece.
... "The ambassador handed the relevant authorities a letter from the finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, explaining the new situation in Greece and making it clear that the national economy ministry is now the 'successor entity' to ERT," he told the Guardian."
Video at link: interview with Zhu Min, the deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund. he says his organisation made mistakes in trying to deal with the financial crisis in Greece.
But he tells HARDtalk's Zeinab Badawi the IMF will learn from its mistakes for the future.
"The conservative leader's junior partners in government were furious about the sudden decision last week.
Mr Samaras accused ERT of corruption and waste, as the country struggles to pay its huge debts.
Greece's top appeals court is also meeting to rule on whether or not the closure was legal.
ERT's screens have gone from black to showing colour bars and the name of the new-look broadcaster proposed by the government, Nerit, now features in channel searches."
"Samaras, a conservative, has called a meeting for 1630 GMT with the leaders of the smaller socialist and moderate leftist parties in his coalition, who strongly oppose ERT's closure and have demanded its immediate restoration.
The prime minister's allies have urged him to back down, warning that the coalition could collapse if he persists with the ERT cull that has sparked an uproar in the country and criticism from media groups abroad."
"Greece's largest bank, National Bank of Greece, says it has succeeded in raising enough capital to avoid being nationalized, the second Greek bank to meet that target.
The debt-stifled country's banks are being bailed out by a 50 billion euro national rescue fund set up with international bailout cash.
To avoid nationalization they must raise a 10th of their capital needs from private investors. The remaining sum will be provided by the rescue fund."
"As the Greek government scrambled to deal with the fallout of its abrupt shut-down of broadcaster ERT, employees at the channel continued to work, broadcasting programs via other channels and on the Internet.
Journalist Machi Nikolara said: “It’s a way for us to keep standing. Continuing helps us psychologically and also is a way for us to do our jobs as best we can.”
Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he would meet his party’s coalition partners, who want to block the ERT closure, for talks on Monday, June 17."
"A bid by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to shut down TV broadcaster ERT and replace it with a company called Nerit was waylaid by a news blog that claimed the domain name nerit.gr first.
The domain was registered yesterday after the government announced the new name of the broadcaster. The government shut down ERT on June 11 describing it as corrupt and wasteful. Nerit, which stands for New Hellenic Radio Internet and Television, will be modern, transparent and meet international standards, said the government. Samaras’s coalition partners have demanded the broadcaster reopen."
"The revolution is being televised everywhere but Greece. A general strike called to protest the death of public TV station ERT, has brought the country to a standstill.
Off air since Thursday, many Greeks gathered outside the ERT building to let their anger be known. Many trade unions fear the precedent that the rapid shutdown could set.
...The snap decision to make almost 2,700 ERT jobless overnight has shocked the nation. However, Prime Minister Antonio Samaras insists the channel was a “symbol of waste and lack of transparency”, and its closure helped to meet bailout requirements."
"Emerging-market investors are on the lookout for countries with fast growth rates, modest debt burdens and other signs of a promising future.
Greece, some say, is not it.
Some money managers specializing in emerging markets say they’re not rushing to add Greece to their portfolios after index provider MSCI Inc. MSCI +0.15% said late Tuesday it would add the euro-zone nation to its main emerging-market stock index.
“You don’t think of a submerging market like Greece when you think of emerging markets,” says Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist for Wells Fargo Funds Management, which advises on assets worth $225 billion. “Greece is a bit of a sore thumb that will stick out in the index.”
...Countries deemed to be emerging markets by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch are expected to grow an average of 4.9% this year, according to the bank’s analyst. In contract, the International Monetary Fund predicts Greece’s economy will contract by 4.2%.
Last year, developing countries had debt levels that averaged about 35% of gross domestic product, according to the IMF. Greece’s debt-to-GDP level was 159%."
"Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras denied more austerity measures will be needed because of the government’s failure to attract any bids for its gas monopoly.
A new tender for the sale of Depa will be issued and the country’s asset-sales program will continue as planned, Samaras told reporters in Athens today. Any suggestions the government will introduce budget cuts to compensate for shortfalls in its revenue target from asset sales are “ridiculous,” he said.
...The sale of Depa and Opap SA (OPAP), the country’s gambling company, were central to Greek government plans to raise 2.3 billion euros this year, a target that already has been revised down. The IMF has described Greece’s progress on selling state holdings as “extremely disappointing.”
"A government spokesman said transmissions would cease early on Wednesday.
A All employees, numbering at least 2,500, will be suspended until the company reopens "as soon as possible."
A It is the latest move in successive rafts of spending cuts and tax rises that the government hope will lead the country out of recession.
A "ERT is a case of an exceptional lack of transparency and incredible extravagance. This ends now," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said, according to the AFP news agency.
A Unions voiced strong opposition to the move."
"Failure to find a buyer for DEPA - which Athens hoped could fetch as much as 900 million euros (771.2 million pounds) - leaves the country unlikely to meet privatisation goals this year, forcing the government to seek other savings to hit its bailout targets.
It also threatens to undermine improved economic sentiment in Greece that has prompted the government to declare an economic recovery has taken root. Investors took fright, sending Greece's benchmark stock index .ATG down 5 percent.
"The DEPA sale surprisingly failed and that's very bad for investor sentiment at a point when Athens looked like it was meeting its targets," said Takis Zamanis, an Athens-based trader at Beta Securities.
Greece said it would relaunch the tender at a future date and the setback would have no impact on its bailout deal."
"The international lenders overseeing Greece’s bailout were back in Athens on Monday for their latest audit, as Greek officials hope dissent in the lending group might allow them new negotiating room.
It was the first time high-ranking representatives of the troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — have assembled here since an I.M.F. report last week conceded that it had made mistakes in Greece’s first foreign bailout. The report prompted angry reactions from the European Commission, not to mention Greek citizens weary of years of recession and austerity measures imposed by the lenders.
...Greek government officials hope that the string of errors highlighted in the I.M.F.'s internal report might prompt the troika to ease demands for more painful reforms. The report concluded that the fund made serious miscalculations and failed to anticipate the severity of Greece’s economic downturn. The I.M.F.'s admission has given Greece some “negotiating power,” Mr. Stournaras said in an interview with the center-left To Vima newspaper on Sunday.
Among the concessions he is expected to seek is the lowering of the value-added tax on restaurants and taverns – to 13 percent, from 23 percent — as a way to lighten the burden on small businesses and help the crucial tourism sector, which is forecasting a record year of 17 million foreign visitors."
"Greece's army of unemployed continued to grow with the latest figures showing nearly three in 10 Greeks out of work, most of them youths.
Figures published by the Hellenic Statistical Authority put unemployment at 26.8% in March, a 0.4% rise over the previous month and a 19.7% surge from the same period last year.
The country's youth remain the hardest hit.
Just over two in 10 Greeks aged between 20 and 24 had a job, according to the survey, with 77.4% of those surveyed either jobless, unable or unwilling to work, said Stelios Zacharias, the director of Greece's statistical authority.
News of the gloomy findings, polled from a pool of 30,000 households nationwide, sent fresh shock waves across the country, already reeling from years of brutal budget cuts.
Throughout the day pundits and politicians took to television and radio talk shows, trading jabs over the effectiveness of austerity, three years after European and international creditors stepped in to save the Greek economy - and the euro - with multibillion-dollar rescue loans."
Photo essay at The Atlantic Cities with images of Greek homelessness
"There are a lot of numbers used to tell the story of Greece's economic crisis. The country's unemployment rate hovers around 25 percent; a whopping 58.3 percent of the country's 15- to 24-year-olds are without a job. The homeless population has doubled since 2009, growing from 11,000 to more than 20,000 now. Greece’s economy contracted for a 19th straight quarter, its GDP has fallen 5.6 percent from a year ago.
Lost sometimes in the hard data are the individual stories -- tales of workers with years of experience and no options, left to live on the streets or in abandoned buildings when their savings run out."
"This speck at the easternmost corner of Europe has become a symbol of Greece's struggle to confront old ills and build a better future. The country's economic crisis has spurred inhabitants of the island, population 350, to challenge the political elite that ruled Kastelorizo for 18 years.
In recent months complaints about widespread graft and poor infrastructure - flaws many observers say led to Greece's general collapse after decades of foreign-fed affluence - have boiled over. The island's mayor, Pavlos Panigyris, has been suspended by Greece's general secretary for the Aegean region, pending trial later this year on criminal charges of corruption brought by a public prosecutor.
Panigyris, who won repeated elections by wide margins, denies any wrongdoing. He told Reuters that allegations of embezzlement and fraud are the result of a vendetta by his enemies. If acquitted, he plans to return to office. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
For many of the inhabitants of this Greek microcosm, the suspension reflects a change in attitude to illicit practices across the country that have been widely known but rarely discussed. After decades in which graft by the authorities was often covered up, a few politicians are facing justice.
In Thessaloniki, Greece's second biggest city, former mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos was sentenced to life in prison in February for embezzling almost 18 million euros ($23.4 million) of public funds. He protested his innocence, but was jailed along with two other senior officials of the city.
In Athens, former defense minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is on trial for money laundering. Other politicians are under criminal investigation as the heavily-indebted country faces pressure to reform its economy and its legal system begins to take a tougher line on corruption."
"The IMF said on Wednesday that its growth forecasts for Greece had been too optimistic and debt restructuring should have been considered earlier.
But Commission spokesman Simon O'Connor said it "fundamentally disagreed" with some of the IMF's views."
"Investors can now add this fact to the various signs that Greece is shedding its image as a euro-crisis poster child: The second annual Greece Investment Forum in New York has moved digs.
Last year’s event, held in October just months after failed elections had stirred fears of a Greek exit from the euro zone, was staged within the utilitarian setting of the Bloomberg Tower on Lexington Avenue. This year’s forum, which kicks off Wednesday, is at the prestigious Plaza Hotel, an ornate icon of America’s gilded age on the edge of Central Park.
And whereas 280 people showed up to hear 12 companies make their pitch to a skeptical audience of U.S. investors last year, there are over 400 people registered for Wednesday’s event and 25 firms presenting. The lineup includes the country’s largest banks, energy producers and construction companies."
"Speculation over Greece's possible exit from the eurozone hampered the bailout, Poul Thomsen of the International Monetary Fund told reporters on the press conference.
Thomsen pinned some of the blame on those in Europe who talked about Grexit risks, saying they had helped to drive its economy down. This added to the impact of its austerity programme."
"Latin notaries, highly trained professionals who provide a range of legal services, are the determining factor in the field of property transfer transactions in Greece. They safeguard the legal security of transactions, monitor legality and serve the public interest but also balance private interests in the property, thus forestalling the development of disputes and litigation.
And while it is true that the system of land registry documents in our country lags behind, covering 15 percent of the national territory, legal information on the ownership of land can be safely located both in land registry records as well as in the content of notarial documents registered therein."
"Because of its economic problems, Greece is facing serious social challenges that have bred political forces that disgrace our democratic and humanistic traditions," Avramopoulos said.
"Let me state from this forum, in the most determined and compelling manner, that Greece will never allow hate to grow and spread. Hate will be confronted and stopped," he added.
"Christine Lagarde has repeated her call for Greece's government to push on with economic reforms to encourage foreign investors, and to keep fighting tax evasion, as inspectors from the Troika arrive back in Athens for (yet) another assessment of its economy.
Speaking to state TV, IMF chief Lagarde argued that Greece was 'pretty much on track', although some way from the end. Athens mustn't stop, she argued.
Asked if she agrees that Greece is becoming a "success story" (as prime minister Samaras claimed), Lagarde wasn't completely convinced, saying:
"I certainly hope it's on its way to being a success story.
There are some really positive developments but obviously more needs to be done.
There has been significant improvement with a programme that is now pretty much on track. The programme has seen massive, unprecedented consolidation, which is hard."
"Opening up the product and service market I think would go a long way in attracting investors and making sure that the Greek economy can pick up," Lagarde said.
After six years in recession, Greece projects slight growth next year, though international officials disagree over whether this is possible. The OECD last week forecast that the Greek recession would continue into 2014, with a 1.2-percent contraction.
Greece's best hope currently lies in hitting a primary surplus - not including debt servicing costs - in 2014 in order to earn additional debt relief from its European creditors.
Greece last year erased nearly a third of its immediate debt, over 100 billion euros ($130 billion) thanks to an unprecedented write-down agreed with private creditors including banks and pension funds."
"Perhaps you remember reading about a basket case called Greece. The first domino to fall in the eurozone crisis, it was officially broke and only kept afloat by hundreds of billions in euros from Europe and the IMF. To secure the loans, Athens had to slash spending, lay off or cut pay for thousands of public servants and flog state assets. The result was social uproar, political turmoil and economic collapse. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks took to the streets. The country faced ejection from the euro, what economists drolly dubbed a "Grexit". In short, it was in a deep hole. But if that's your image of Greece then you need to update it: that's so spring/summer 2012.
Over the past few weeks, Athens' top brass have been trying to convince the world that happy days are here again. Prime minister Antonis Samaras now talks of the Greek "success story". The boss of the central bank and the finance minister say Greece has turned a corner. Editorialists in the national press and parts of the international financial press dutifully nod their assent. And those with Greek or European assets to sell clap along: "Forget Grexit – it could be Greecovery instead," ran one particularly bone-headed "research" note I received on Friday.
What's at stake here is a much bigger prize than whether an economy worth 2% of Europe's annual GDP really is on the mend. It's about justifying the shock therapy imposed on distressed members of the eurozone."
"The country's third-largest lender by assets said Monday that foreign investors contributed significantly to its rights issue and private placement, which were held last month.
Greece's banks are being bailed out by a national rescue fund. To avoid nationalization, however, is that they must raise a tenth of their capital needs from private investors.
Alpha needed a total 4.57 billion euros ($5.94 billion) to remain solvent."
"Greece used to be a place with a positive global image: gorgeous islands, friendly people, great food and stunning history.
Then came the financial meltdown. Three years ago, when Greece became the first eurozone country to receive a multibillion-dollar bailout, many international media organizations portrayed Greeks as corrupt tax-evaders who liked to riot instead of work.
Over the past year, Greeks have been portrayed as the impoverished victims of incompetent politicians, corrupt oligarchs and cruel Europeans bent on poisoning them with austerity.
"Greeks were either rioters throwing Molotov cocktails or homeless people begging for food," Ismini Spachou, an Athenian who works in development aid, tells NPR. "The Greek crisis is now a product, and what sells is drama."
But drama has also drained the country of context, she says, turning it into a caricature of stereotypes. So last year, after stewing at the incessant criticism of Greece, Spachou joined , a small grassroots group that is offering an alternative view of the country with animated videos, advertisements and social media."
"The staggering financial meltdown that Greece has endured since the financial crash has left many of its citizens badly bruised, and pensions has been an area that has damaged many.
Passionate protests over pension cuts have continued to pepper the streets of Athens, exclaiming that the cuts in retirement benefits have left them poverty stricken, and firmly on the bread line.
...Looking to the future, the sustainability of the Greek pension system is in question, with the nation’s finances in such a perilous state, in a country that has a history for high replacement rates.
Unemployment has reached 27% for the first quarter of this year according to Hellenic Statistical Authority, the worst in the whole of the EU, Eurostat states that the current deficit is 10% of GDP, with disastrous economic growth figures of -5.3% so far for 2013.
Although that is slightly better than 6.7% recorded for the second quarter last year, and the latest review of the second adjustment programme released in May, does point to steady progress being made through structural reforms."
"Eurozone countries will not consider possible debt relief for Greece until April 2014, the euro currency bloc's head said Friday on a visit to Athens.
Still, Jeroen Dijsselbloem said a landmark decision was likely next month on how Europe's new bank rescue mechanism will work.
Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs meetings of the 17-nation eurozone, met with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras to discuss the debt-ridden nation's efforts to reform its economy.
"I am confident the Greek program is on a sound footing ... there are the first signals of a turn in the economy," Dijsselbloem said. "There is optimism that growth will pick up in the eurozone as well as in Greece next year."
"The International Monetary Fund released 1.74 billion euros ($2.26 billion) in fresh funds for Greece Friday after the country passed the third review of its performance under the joint IMF-EU bailout program.
Earlier Friday the European Financial Stability Facility also released another aid installment, worth 7.2 billion euros, to help recapitalize Greece's stricken banks.
The funding is part of the 173-billion-euro, four-year program to put Athens's finances on a stable path."
Greece, said Artistotle, is geographically intermediate, between Europe, apparently incapable of civilisation, and south-west Asia, where where only the King of Persia was fully a free man; and the Mean, or medium, to him was the best. Modern geologists add that the Aegean basin is a slab of the earth's crust which has sunk and tipped, leaving only a rim (the Greek peninsula and Crete) and mountain tops (the other islands) above sea-level.
Greece can therefore support a population, on its small though fertile plains, only much smaller than that of the adjacent slab of Asia Minor; a fact which affects the whole of Greek history. Greater wealth must be found overseas, by trade of colonization; and when adjacent powers in Italy or Asia are strong, Greece is threatened. Persia attempted conquest; Rome, the Franks and Turkey achieved it.
On the other hand, Greece enjoys, with its variety of scenery, clear air and summer heat tempered by north winds, an intensely stimulating environment; and when free, three times it has produced great art: the bronze-age Minoan-Mycenaean, the Classical and the Byzantine; all completely different, all unique."
From The Living Past of Greece: A Time-traveller's tour of historic and prehistoric places, by A. R. and Mary Burn. Published by Little, Brown and Company. 1980. Quote from page 9.