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February 29, 2012 1:11 PM   Subscribe

If Britain were Greece... (audio slideshow)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (39 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
They'll be doing a similar one about Spain pretty soon. 50% youth unemployment? That's a recipe for disaster on top of a 22.9% adult rate.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:47 PM on February 29, 2012


I hope Europe gets their collective shit together soon. I need a nice place to move once the crazies finally get their paws on the USA.

And yes, the continent-wide economic catastrophe is all about me.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:49 PM on February 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


Well, that's what you get for decades of expecting to retire at 50 and spend the rest of your life sitting around in kafenions flicking your worry beads and talking idle left-wing shit.

DISCLAIMER: The previous statement was a joke, from a total and utter Hellenophile who has probably spent more time in Greece, and loved more Greek things than any of y'all except the Greek folk.

Damn, it hurts that I feel I actually needed to add that disclaimer.
posted by Decani at 1:50 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Britain has a separate youth minimum wage? How does that work?
posted by psoas at 1:53 PM on February 29, 2012




The EU is a sick joke.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:56 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


...English cuisine would be a lot better
posted by Renoroc at 1:58 PM on February 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


So, a way for Greece to get out of this crisis... Hmm, I wonder: would any wealthy investment bankers, say ones who've recently made money coming and going on sovereign debt credit default swaps, be interested in buying some of the world's most beautiful, and soon-to-be-private, islands?
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:05 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


...English cuisine would be a lot better

Sigh...still with this?
posted by ntrifle at 2:08 PM on February 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


Britain has a separate youth minimum wage? How does that work?

Like this.

Also (from the video) - "Anyone with a yacht or a luxury car would pay extra tax on it..." - I do not have a problem with this.
posted by ntrifle at 2:13 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmm, I wonder: would any wealthy investment bankers, say ones who've recently made money coming and going on sovereign debt credit default swaps, be interested in buying some of the world's most beautiful, and soon-to-be-private, islands?


That's so 2010 ...
posted by chavenet at 2:15 PM on February 29, 2012


They'll be doing a similar one about Spain pretty soon. 50% youth unemployment? That's a recipe for disaster on top of a 22.9% adult rate.

I thought there was some reason why this statistic doesn't mean what you think it does? Don't they count students as unemployed or something?
posted by Jehan at 2:18 PM on February 29, 2012


The whole video seems like a veiled threat - look at those greedy public sector workers demonstrating, if they got their way they wouldn't have a job and serves them right. I would expect no less from the Sunday Times (here seemingly masquerading as the BBC) though.
posted by ntrifle at 2:18 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The EU is a sick joke.

Don't hold back now!
posted by Jehan at 2:27 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I had the time to have a Tumblr it might be "fuckyeahnotgreece", because that seems to be a thing.

Tasmania
Portugal
America
Rangers & Portsmouth
Ireland
Turkey
Italy
California

Bonus: That's Greece vs That's Not Greece
posted by chavenet at 2:27 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's funny how much criticism of the EU is allowed in the english-language press, like this opinion in todays nytimes by Jean-Paul Fitoussi on austerity policies that could be equally well applied to Britain or the US and explicitly blame balance-of-payments problems in the global economy on the US-led IMF solution in the Asian crisis.

Just that last part is fighting words in the US, but you can slip it into a piece dumping on the EU.
posted by ennui.bz at 2:54 PM on February 29, 2012


If Britain were Greece...

If politicians were smart.
If people who worked hard were fairly compensated.
If children didn't starve.
If women were paid the same wages as men.
If only we cold get rid of Internet Explorer.
If Community was given 6 Seasons and a movie.
If a lot of things...
posted by Fizz at 3:17 PM on February 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Nice jab at the end about the weather. I guess there's some tradeoff for not having your economy in an unending abyss (yet)!
posted by Metro Gnome at 4:03 PM on February 29, 2012


I thought there was some reason why this statistic doesn't mean what you think it does? Don't they count students as unemployed or something?

It's generally 15-24 non-students. Since a lot of that group is in fact students, it's not like 50% of the Greek youth population is just hanging around at home.
posted by smackfu at 4:52 PM on February 29, 2012


Could someone provide some context, please - I understand from the slideshow that Greece currently has... let's refer to it euphemistically as: 'a problem'. Could someone explain in easily understood language what the problem is, but more importantly, what caused it? Thank you.
posted by The Discredited Ape at 5:16 PM on February 29, 2012


That's not an easy question to answer. Greece's problems are legion, and the causes aren't all the same. At base, though, they've been spending running massive deficits, have a national debt way above GDP, have no prospects of being able to afford to service that debt... and maybe most troubling the government covered it up and lied about it for quite a long time. Complicating factors include widespread and long-standing tax avoidance at all levels of society which make it hard to raise revenue, distrust of the Greek government, even more distrust of the EU, and the fact that Greece has been running its own crappy monetary policy while using a common currency with the rest of Europe. The problems with individual nations running their own economies while using a common currency with other nations should be obvious.

Oh, in response to the above the Greek government has agreed to huge budget cuts and austerity measures in return for massive loans and forgiveness of debt. Those austerity measures are driving unemployment, further distrust of government, and causing riots and so forth.
posted by Justinian at 6:00 PM on February 29, 2012


ntrifle: "'Anyone with a yacht or a luxury car would pay extra tax on it...' - I do not have a problem with this."

They fixed that for you: as pensions and wages are dropping well below poverty levels and we're back at "bring your own syringe" level of hospitals here in Greece, while as a parent I chip in for soap and toilet paper at the public school, you know what? Thanks to the EU the luxury tax on vehicles will be abolished. The homeless people that have taken over what seems like every street and alley in downtown Athens are obviously overjoyed...
posted by talos at 6:05 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]



If politicians were smart.
If people who worked hard were fairly compensated.
If children didn't starve.
If women were paid the same wages as men.
If only we cold get rid of Internet Explorer.
If Community was given 6 Seasons and a movie.


If my grandmother had wheels she'd be my grandfather a tram.
posted by acb at 6:15 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


"the Greek government has agreed to huge budget cuts and austerity measures in return for massive loans and forgiveness of debt"
I note that according to current projections at wildly optimistic scenarios (which is equivalent to "IMF scenarios") the Greek debt will be at over 120% in 2020. When this whole mess started the debt was at 115% of GDP. The money that supposedly "helped" Greece was like forcing someone to borrow money from a loan shark to cover credit card debt, while breaking his arms to punish him, so that he can't find a job. Austerity is not a fiscal policy. It is political and social sabotage.
"long-standing tax avoidance at all levels of society" is not really accurate IMHO. Tax evasion and avoidance was proportionately much-much larger at the top, and pretty much at average levels by international standards (well, southern European standards at least) in the middle. The only sector of Greek society that has done or will do wonderfully from this crisis is exactly the wealthiest (the 1% perhaps?) which were the authors of most of Greece's problems to begin with...
posted by talos at 6:19 PM on February 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's chilling about the slideshow is that you could change the soundtrack and voiceover, add some happy hardworking people, keep the same policy proposals and get a rightist campaign ad in a half a dozen countries... which says something about what is being forced on Greece by the ECB.

Could someone explain in easily understood language what the problem is...

(1) The Greek economy is in a steep decline/depression.
(2) The Greek state is running a deficit (in part because of the economic depression and in part because of irresponsibility properly distributed among several parties) and no longer able to sell bonds in the usual places that will allow the government budget to continue at the same funding levels.

Why the economy is collapsing and why the Greeks can no longer borrow are complicated questions, but the problem is not. All of the austerity measures in outlined in this slideshow are almost guaranteed to accelerate the decline of the Greek economy in the short-term while stretching social bonds that hold civil society together to the breaking point.

The question isn't whether the Greeks deserve this, but whether you want to see the same policy proposals enacted in your country... hence the slideshow. Because, again, the people behind the policies being pushed on the Greeks would like to see "social democracy" rolled back everywhere...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:23 PM on February 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Greek people didn't do this. It was their government, the EU, the German banks, and Goldman Sachs.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:56 PM on February 29, 2012


Basically, the eurozone is nowhere near being a single economy or market, with inflation, unemployment, GDP, etc. vastly different between different countries. Despite this, it's been managed by the ECB to the benefit of the stronger countries, with e.g. low interest rates to get German consumers to spend money but which led to property bubbles in Ireland and Spain. The eurozone is like a three-legged race, and it's no surprise that if you tie a slower person to a faster person and the faster person runs full tilt, the slower person will fall over.
posted by kersplunk at 7:17 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The eurozone is like a three-legged race, and it's no surprise that if you tie a slower person to a faster person and the faster person runs full tilt, the slower person will fall over.

... and then everyone loses in the end?
posted by ovvl at 7:30 PM on February 29, 2012


1. Scale back everything.
2. ???
3. Profit.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:08 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


... and then everyone loses in the end?

Germany isn't doing so bad at the moment.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:00 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the moment, sure. But as more and more of these lazy Greeks move north and set up taztziki factories and expand their feta industrial complex from the rolling green hills of Oberbayern all the way to the cold waters of the north sea, they'll invariably drag the productivity numbers down by working four hour days and burning our hard-working Turkish döner stands to the ground with their beloved petrol bombs so they can take over with their own souvlaki shops that they will only open between 16:00 and 16:45 on Wednesdays.

Basically, Greece is going to destroy Europe, starting with Germany, and there's no way around it.
posted by cmonkey at 11:28 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually. why doesn't the Greek government just hand all the unemployed people a bus ticket to Germany? I'm sure the Munchners would rise to that challenge with their customary gemutlichkeit.
posted by Segundus at 1:17 AM on March 1, 2012


Actually. why doesn't the Greek government just hand all the unemployed people a bus ticket to Germany? I'm sure the Munchners would rise to that challenge with their customary gemutlichkeit.

Language, probably. Only 10% of the Greek population can speak German, so even if the rest start learning now they're still going to be at the bottom of the unemployment heap with poor language skills. However, I suppose that many thousands of Greek people will leave for whichever country they feel they can better survive in. This will only make the economic drain worse though, as those people are likely to be higher skilled. I think Greece should default and withdraw from the euro, but I don't doubt the country will be a basket case for years, maybe decades. Austerity is an unnecessary punishment.
posted by Jehan at 5:44 AM on March 1, 2012


Whatever else is the case, I think we could all, at the very least, pitch in by choosing some Greek products and maybe it's time for that trip to the Islands you've thought about. I don't know what, besides fabulous olives, Greece exports. How come that isn't mentioned half as often as the fact Greece has trouble?

Austerity my ass. Buy some Greek shit, damn it. Whatever problems might be, it's perfectly clear that someone's got to make something and someone else has to pay them for it, or nothing will improve. All the rest is political bullshit that isn't even good to grow peppers. But all we seem to get is the bullshit. It would be funny if it wasn't tragic. Seems someone doesn't want improvement.
posted by Goofyy at 6:29 AM on March 1, 2012


EU bailout to Greece of
щр вуфк Ш ыууь ещ рфму срфтпув ьн лунищфкв дфтпгфпу ещ Кгыышфт!
Well that was weird. I'll start again.
EU bailout to Greece of €130bn, population of Greece 11 million
= €11,818 per head

I just thought that was an incredible number.
posted by asok at 6:43 AM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Goofyy: While buying Greek is thoroughly appreciated and the islands are still lovely and welcoming (and some are coping quite better than the mainland, I might add), most of the Greek heavy industries besides tourism do not produce stuff of the directly purchasable kind: shipping (the world's largest merchant fleet, whose owners do not pay any taxes unfortunately), metals (aluminum, perlite) cement, plastics, refined crude oil, steel etc. There are also dairy products, vegetables, foodstuffs and olive oil, but these are not as easy to find in the US (somewhat easier in the EU) as I found out when I was living in the States.

The thing is that austerity kills businesses as well as individuals. Here's an example of the death spiral at work: A large paper manufacturer in Northern Greece, perfectly viable before the crisis, with large exports, lost huge amounts of money when a large part of its Greek clients went bankrupt (because austerity kills first of all those that depend on internal demand). As fuel taxes were insanely increased according to troika dictates leading to fuel prices rising by up to 40-50% within a matter of months, and the Greek banks were not lending to anyone (because mainly they are bankrupt, supported by loans that are heaved on the taxpayers' shoulders) the company though not at all insolvent theoretically, had huge problems with its liquidity. At least that particular company was sold off (to Turks which made the news, which is how I learned of the story) and it survived. Most (smaller) companies in a similar predicament just declare bankruptcy. And people go unemployed.

Keep in mind that over 70% of Greek GDP IIRC was generated by internal demand. So when this goes belly-up, it is impossible to be replaced by export increases. So even tourism is down although *foreign* tourism is up, because Greeks who were producing 2/3 of total tourist income are simply not going on vacations any more at anything like the rate they used to...

As for immigration: Apparently 100.000 Greeks have left the country in search of employment elsewhere during 2011. This does not count however neither the immigrants from other countries who were living in Greece (some for over twenty years) and returned / reemigrated from Greece, neither i suspect the large numbers of Greeks with US, Canadian, German, Australian citizenships who wouldn't be counted as immigrants in their second countries. Among these are too many of the young, more educated and talented Greeks on whom any recovery normally would depend... 2012, I expect to be worse...
posted by talos at 7:12 AM on March 1, 2012


Thanks Talos. I had no idea of the whole internal commerce thing. I am no economics wizard, and to me, the Euro is just a huge convenience. I've lived in Europe for 14 years now (excepting 3 in South Africa), so was here before the Euro and when it started. I was one of those in Germany who made a special trip to the ATM at midnight, on the day. (and possess unopened 'sample packs' of German Euro coins, issued in advance of the day).

But the EU itself, I think, is a good concept. But, I fear, others outside Europe may at times find it a bit threatening, if you know what I mean. So any trouble hitting this union its worth to look for outside influence.
posted by Goofyy at 8:23 AM on March 1, 2012


Yeah, but the point is, Britain isn't Greece.

The British economic state isn't run on a system of Φακελάκι ("little envelopes") handed to public servants to get things done. In Britain, most doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs don't hide their income, or rely on the barter system or cash transactions to conceal their wealth from taxing authorities.

Britain doesn't bullshit about its economic stability to the EU--nor does the EU turn a blind eye to outrageous, bullshit-laden claims from Britain.

Britain isn't fucked because it's Britain. Despite its numerous problems, its internal revenue sources weren't hijacked by corrupt business practices, some dating to the Ottoman Empire.

Britain, you deserve to pat yourself on the back (if you're comparing yourself to Greece).
posted by Gordion Knott at 9:27 AM on March 1, 2012


[To be fair I have not ever handed to public servants even the slightest amount ever]. Yet what you say about Britain and tax collection is possibly correct. Sadly this is irrelevant to the frontal attack against the welfare state that austerity constitutes. They are out to get British working people too. Austerity in Greece is not meant to fix anything. It is actually increasing corruption and tax evasion. And it rewards the elites that were on the country's helm and profited most from corruption, as well as German industries who were among the most effective bribers the past ten years in the country. That is the plan and the point of the shock-therapy...
Let's also kill the meme that somehow the EU was shocked at the fiscal discrepancies in Greece. They were complicit.
posted by talos at 10:15 AM on March 1, 2012


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