Thursday, June 26, 2014
Greek Bonds Beat Lottery as Funds Surge on Smashed Glass
June 26, 2014
The woman who died in a burning Athens bank still smiles at Giorgos Mastorakos on his way to the delicatessen he owns around the corner.
The wreaths and tributes no longer cascade onto the road to mark the spot where she and her two colleagues were killed in violence in May 2010 after the country’s unsustainable debts and ensuing financial decline resulted in the first depression since World War II. At the makeshift memorial that fewer people visit on the anniversary of the deaths, the photo of the woman’s face is framed by an anarchist sign and withering bouquets.
Mastorakos, 64, and his employees helped those who escaped the burning building. “And that’s when the questions began: Did so-and-so get out? Have you seen that person?” he said.
The anger against austerity, reflected in the broken windows of hundreds of Athens storefronts, led to political turmoil in 2011, the world’s biggest debt restructuring the following year and chaos as elections forced Greeks to choose between the euro and the drachma. Now, halfway through his term, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras sees recovery and redemption after Greece came to the brink of bankruptcy and sparked a contagion that engulfed Ireland and Portugal.
The economy will expand this year after the worst downturn in peacetime, the highest unemployment in the region has peaked and investors are buyers of Greek bonds again. The yield on benchmark 10-year government debt is 5.79 percent, down from the high of 44.2 percent in March 2012 -- a return better than most winning lottery tickets.