Friday, October 28, 2011

No Bounce for Greek Spirits

Wall Street Journal
October 28, 2011

Though European Union leaders proclaimed success in reaching an agreement aimed at saving Greece from bankruptcy and the 17-nation euro zone from a deepening crisis, most Greeks didn't share a sense of relief.

The pact, under which banks will slash 50% off the value of Greek debt on their books, hasn't cheered up a country numbed by daily strikes and rising unemployment and now facing a fifth year of recession.

"They say the big bankers will pay for this, not the people, that [Prime Minister George] Papandreou negotiated a great deal and we are turning the page because half our debt vanished. Who are they trying to fool?" says 49-year-old bookstore owner George Patiniotis.

The prime minister, in a televised address Thursday, tried to reassure nervous Greeks that the EU plan will lighten their load.

"Tens of billions of euros have been lifted from the backs of the Greek people," said Mr. Papandreou. "The banks, rather than the citizens, will pay that cost. It is a more-just distribution of the burden of our debt."


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