Monday, February 20, 2012

Greece--A Country in Decay

Greece has stumbled off a cliff:
Athenians now live in a city where physical decay mirrors social malaise: traffic lights have broken down across the capital, either because demonstrators have smashed them or the state, which is sacking thousands of personnel, no longer troubles to fix them. City thoroughfares are stained with graffiti, shops are boarded-up and Stadiou street, scene of the last big protests, is lined with the blackened shells of burnt-out buildings.

Meanwhile, a pack of stray dogs roams the street beside the Parthenon, snarling at passers-by and running in demented pursuit of motorcyclists. Greece had endured five consecutive years of recession even before the looming onset of this new round of deflation. Unemployment for those aged under 25 already stands at 48 per cent, having risen by more than a third since November 2010. Perhaps most stark of all is a national suicide rate that has doubled from 2.8 per 100,000 people in 2008, to about 6 last year.
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Half of all small businesses in Greece are unable to meet their payroll costs, while a quarter of companies have gone bankrupt since 2009. Greeks have shown how little they trust their banks by emptying their accounts and stashing savings under metaphorical mattresses: about a third of the money on deposit has been withdrawn.

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