Thursday, June 14, 2012

Before Vote, Greeks Move Cash, Hire Guards

Wall Street Journal
June 14, 2012

As Greece prepares for a weekend vote that could determine whether the country stays in Europe's common currency, many Greeks are gripped by uncertainty and taking measures large and small to prepare for what may come next.

"I don't know whom to trust or what to believe," said Ilias Daskalopoulos, a 28-year-old unemployed writer who earlier this year went to the bank and withdrew his entire life savings—a few thousand euros that he now keeps stashed in a secret hiding spot.

With the stakes so high, Mr. Daskalopoulos said, he is nervous about the outcome of Sunday's national elections, the second to be held since May. "The situation could be very precarious," he said.

Other Greeks are transferring money out of the country, hiring security guards, stocking up on groceries and keeping their cars' gas tanks full—measures of the anxiety many feel as the country's economy collapses and government institutions struggle to cope. Unemployment passed 22% in the first three months of the year, and crime rates are climbing.


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