Greece weathering its own 'Great Depression,' prime minister says
Nation battens down for a brutal series of budget cuts to secure rescue payments
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told former U.S. President Bill
Clinton that his nation is now in the throes of its own "Great
Depression," similar to the one the U.S. suffered in the 1930s. Greece's
international lenders are due to arrive shortly arrive in Athens to
suggest further cuts in order to get rescue payments to shore up against
a default for the debt-burdened country.
Greece's 'Great depression' has hit its young people especially hard, with massive unemployment.
The Greek GDP by the end of 2012 is expected to have shrunk by about a fifth in five consecutive years of recession since 2008. Greece has been hammered by tax hikes, spending cuts and wage reductions required by two EU/IMF bailouts. Adding to the crisis has been unemployment swelling to a record 22.6 percent in the first quarter.
"You had the Great Depression in the United States," Samaras told Clinton, who was visiting Greece as part of a delegation of Greek-American businessmen. "This is exactly what we're going through in Greece - it's our version of the Great Depression."
Under current agreements, Athens must reduce its budget deficit below three percent of GDP by the end of 2014, from 9.3 percent of GDP in 2011. This will require almost another 12 billion euros in cuts and higher taxes on top of the 17 billion successive governments have cut from the budget shortfall.
Greece will request that its lenders to give it two more years in order to achieve the budget goal to avoid an even more drastic economic slump. The lenders have opposed the idea because it would imply even more financial aid.
The German magazine Der Spiegel cited high-ranking representatives in Brussels, that the IMF may not take part in any additional financing for Greece.
The German and Greek finance ministries declined to comment on the report, which suggested additional support required for Athens could range from 10-50 billion euros.
Many European officials remain skeptical about Greece's sincerity to live up to previous agreements. German economy minister Philipp Roesler told ARD public television he did not expect Greece could fulfill its requirements and that that would mean no more money to Athens.
"I am more than skeptical," Roesler, who is the head of the junior party in Germany's ruling coalition and often outspoken on euro zone issues, said in an interview.
"If Greece does not fulfill its requirements, there cannot be any more payments to Greece," Roesler said. His viewpoints often do not reflect those of Chancellor Angela Merkel or Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Greece, Depression, Bill Clinton, Antonis Samaras
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