October 19, 2011
Athens "on fire" again
Strikes and protests more violent than usual around Syntagma Square. Coverage in the international media is of course feeding on the dynamic images of anarchists hurling rocks and (apparently) petrol-bombs at police, and the general photogenic mayhem that follows. Though strikes are occurring all around the country, the violence seems to be centered with the usual group of Athens anarchists.
Short survey of media stories
"...International lenders, who are providing the funds Athens needs to stay afloat after it was shut out of bond markets last year, have expressed impatience at the slow pace of reform as Greece has slipped behind on its budget targets.
There has been growing talk that Athens should be placed under tighter supervision by EU authorities to ensure it meets its reform obligations." Full Story
"Ninety-two percent of the 199 respondents to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch fund managers’ survey believe that Greece cannot avoid default. Seven out of 10 respondents expect a default by April 2012, according to the survey, which was released Wednesday.
“The survey shows investor consensus has priced in, or hopes for, an orderly default by Greece,” said Michael Hartnett, chief global equities strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Research, in a statement. " Full Story
"The BBC's Chris Morris in Athens says the mood across the country is generally one of defiance rather than violence. Legislators are voting on two bills on Wednesday and Thursday.
They include measures for higher taxes, further cuts to pensions and salaries and the suspension of collective labour agreements.
They will also suspend 30,000 public servants on reduced pay and introduce a new civil service salary system.
Prime Minister George Papandreou's Pasok party has a four-seat majority but some of his backbenchers have threatened to vote against the measures.
Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who has this month been locked out of his office by protesting civil servants for several days, appealed for support, saying: "We are in an agonising but necessary struggle to avoid the final and harshest point of the crisis."
Greece finds itself with rising unemployment and a stalled economy, with a government debt that is 162% of its gross domestic product. " Full Story