'Everyone’s outraged': angry Greeks foresee Grexit and drachma's revival
. . . so why did Greece wait so long?
More below the break.
"In his tiny shop in downtown Athens, Kostis Nakos sits behind a wooden counter hunched over his German calculator. The 71-year-old might have retired had he been able to make ends meets but that is now simply impossible. “All day I’ve been sitting here doing the maths,” he sighs, surrounded by the undergarments and socks he has sold for the past four decades.
“My income tax has just gone up to 29%, my social security payments have gone up 20%, my pension has been cut by 50 euros; they are taxing coffee, fuel, the internet, tavernas, ferries, everything they can, and then there’s Enfia [the country’s much-loathed property levy]. Now that makes me mad. They said they would take that away!”
This story has changed very little in the past 6 years. Everyone is mad, they protest, but don't act to default on the un-repayable debt.
"In his yellow Toyota, Giorgos Balabanis, a taxi driver for the past 15 years, puts it another way. His car, he insists, is a university of life. “All sorts” get in and out. “And what I am hearing every day is that until we leave the euro, until we return to the drachma, until we have a currency that is not so strong, things will never be right,” he says. “Remember me because it’s going to happen. There will be an explosion and Grexit and the drachma will come back.'"
Well, maybe. The Greeks are masters at pretending to act, then not acting. The past six years are testament to this character flaw.
"Increasingly, Greece is a land inhabited by rich and poor. Sights that were once shocking – middle class men and women rifling through the rubbish cans on streets – are now mundane. That worries Stergiou. Just as it worries Korkidis who foresees more companies fleeing, massive tax evasion returning and the black market flourishing as people try to survive.
“It can’t go on for ever,” the student, Stergiou, says. “Greeks are running out of stamina, they are running out of endurance. Who will be able to survive on pensions of €384 a month? Something will have to give.'"
This is Stein's Law, yet the Greeks delay, hoping beyond hope, for one more draught from the EU money trough. The chance to be first world, one more time before slipping silently into the second world.