ROAR on BBC World: why the media lies about Greece

by Jerome Roos on June 24, 2011

Post image for ROAR on BBC World: why the media lies about Greece

In a short BBC interview today, I argued that the media’s witch hunt against Greece perpetuates a false impression that the Greeks themselves are to blame.

With special thanks to Naveena Kottoor, I was able to appear on BBC World Have Your Say today, for a brief segment on the international media’s coverage of the Greek debt crisis.

Asked whether I agreed that the international media are engaged in a ‘witch hunt’ against the Greek people, I pointed out that all talk about the Greeks being profligate, lazy and spoilt is simply not true (video below, my contribution from 34m50s onwards — somehow the audio got messed up):

Unfortunately, however, I didn’t get the time to back up these assertions with hard facts — so I would like this to use the opportunity to do so here.

Special thanks for the data below go out to Alex Andreou and Ingeborg Beugel.

MYTH #1: The Greeks are profligate

The unquestioned assumption in the international media is that the Greek debt crisis was caused by excessive state expenditure, an overburdened welfare state and an inflated public sector.

TRUTH #1: The Greek welfare state is actually anemic

Here are the facts:

  • Public spending: according to the Center for American Progress, public spending in Greece is only 44.6% of GDP. This is lower than the EU average, lower than Germany’s 46.6% and considerably lower than Sweden’s 55%.
  • Tax collection: the real problem is not social expenditure on the poor but the lack of tax collection from the rich. From 2001 to 2007, Greece collected only an average of 39.4% of GDP in taxes, compared to the EU 44.4% average.

MYTH #2: The Greeks are lazy

Another unquestioned assumption is that the Greeks don’t work enough — they retire at 50, take crazy amounts of paid holidays and lie around in the sun drinking ouzo most of the day. Angela Merkel, for example, recently called on the people of southern Europe to “work more, play less“, i.e. work more hours, retire earlier and take less holidays.

TRUTH #2: The Greeks actually work most of all Europeans

Here are the facts:

  • Hours worked per week: According to Eurostat data of 2005, the Greeks worked 43.1 hours per week (compared to 35.7 hours in so-called ‘thrifty’ Germany, with its much-touted ‘Protestant work ethic’).
  • Hours worked per year: More recent OECD data shows the Greeks to work an average of 2,119 hours per year — 690 hours more than the average German, 467 more than the average Brit and 356 more than the OECD average. In fact, out of all OECD countries, only the Koreans work more.
  • Amount of paid holidays: The paid leave entitlement in Greece is 23 days per year. This is actually below the EU average, and significantly lower than the minimum of 28 days in the UK and 30 (!) days in Germany.
  • Retirement age: Again, Eurostat data from 2005, shows the average age of exit from the labour force in Greece to be 61.7. This was higher than in Germany, France or Italy and higher than the EU27 average. It is being raised even further now as a part of the EU-IMF bailout conditions.

MYTH #3: The Greeks are spoilt

In a truly terrible piece of journalism earlier this week, Sean O’Grady (economics editor of The Independent) wrote that “for many in northern Europe, the rioting in Athens must remind them of a tantrum by a spoilt child.” He refers specifically to popular opposition to the cutting of the so-called “13th and 14th salary” as a key indicator of this ‘spoiltness’.

TRUTH #3: The Greeks suffer more than anyone else

Here are the facts:

  • According to Eurostat, even before crisis, in 2008, one in five Greeks (among them almost half a million children) lived under the formal poverty line of 500 euros per month.
  • An independent survey by Kapa Research and the London School of Economics found even worse data: a third of the Greek population now live in formal poverty (and mind you: this was in 2007 – it’s actually gotten a lot worse since as a result of these draconian austerity measures).
  • Every child in Greece is born with a 40,000 euro debt on their name.
  • Greece’s youth are now referred to in the country as Generation 700: because that’s the maximum monthly wage that young Greeks will typically make – that is, if they are lucky enough to find a job: according to the Financial Times, over 35 percent of young Greeks is out of work right now.
  • The so-called 13th and 14th salaries (Christmas, Easter and summer bonuses) are not additional salaries. As a Greek reader on this blog, Amalia, pointed out: “Greeks do not get two extra salaries a year; their annual salary is simply divided by 14 and they get two installments at Christmas, one and half at Easter and one and a half sometime in the summer.”
  • The Dutch get a 13th month worth of salary and Austria has a 14th month. Since these countries are not experiencing a similar budget crisis, this simply can’t be the cause of Greece’s debt.
  • The bottomline is: it doesn’t matter in how many installments you receive your salary (whether it’s in 12, 13, 14 or 2,000 parts); what matters is your annual salary. As long as you make less than 6,000 euros a year (as is the case for 20 percent of Greeks) you live in poverty — period.
  • Living costs in Greece are the highest of all of Europe.
  • As a result of this lethal combination of low wages and high living costs, millions of Greeks are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive.
  • Since last year’s bailout, the Greek economy contracted almost 5%, 50,000 to 65,000 business have been closed, unemployment increased by 400,000, industrial activity declined by 11%, the construction sector contracted by 73%. Partly as a result, suicide rates are reported to have nearly tripled.
  • All in all, this is a humanitarian tragedy of unprecedented proportions. How could Mr. O’Brady possibly keep a straight face arguing that the people experiencing all of the above, are somehow spoilt children?

MYTH #4 — the bailout is helping the Greek people

Part of O’Brady’s logic assumes that the Greeks should actually be grateful for receiving EU money in return for austerity measures. After all, EU taxpayers are footing the bill for the failures of the Greek people, no?

TRUTH #4: — it’s an indirect subsidy for Europe’s insolvent banks

Here are the facts:

  • First of all, the bailout is not a handout: the Greek people don’t actually benefit from the EU-IMF bailout. Even if the bailout money really did go to the Greeks, this wouldn’t necessarily be beneficial for the Greek people at all. After all, the bailout is a loan for which the EU and IMF charge an exorbitant 8 percent interest rate, meaning northern European tax payers and the IMF should make a handsome profit from their so-called ‘rescue aid’, while the Greeks will only be further indebted by it.
  • The bailout serves not Greece but Europe’s insolvent banks: as former IMF Chief Economist Kenneth Rogoff pointed out last year already, “a lot of European banks are insolvent.” The real problem of the European crisis isn’t the fiscal crisis in the periphery, it’s the financial crisis in the banking sector of the core.
  • Private bank exposure to Greek sovereign debt: BNP Paribas: 5bn – 7 percent of equity; Société Générale: 2,5bn – 6 percent of equity; Postbank: 1,2bn – 21 percent of equity; Kommerzbank: 2,9bn – 27 percent of total equity. That’s just a handful. More data here.
  • Central Bank exposure to Greek debt: the European Central Bank has 190bn of exposure to Greek debt.
  • ECB close to insolvency: according to a recent report by Open Europe, asset losses as small as 4.25% could tip the ECB into insolvency. Greek default alone would chip 2.35% to 3.47% off of the ECB’s capital base. Add in a Portuguese or Irish default and you have the European Central Bank – the flagship of European capitalism – literally going bankrupt.

But no one really seems to care about Europe’s ailing banks and the ECB. Indeed, hardly anyone is talking about it. Instead, we prefer to talk about the handful of Greek workers who retire at 50, the ‘spoilt children’ who refuse to accept the EU’s generous aid packages.

By narrowly channeling our ire onto the suffering people of Greece, we have completely lost sight of the infinitely larger structural problems we face in the European Union. Our private banks are insolvent. Our central bank is on the verge of bankruptcy. This is the real crisis.

Yet apparently, in all this misery and chaos, bashing the Greeks seems like an infinitely more enjoyable pastime for Europe’s populist politicians and the factually illiterate international media. It’s time we put these lies to an end and start speaking truth.

Thanks again to Naveena Kottoor and BBC World for allowing me a brief minute to highlight these concerns. I just wish there had been a little more time to delve into the real issues in depth.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicosgr June 24, 2011 at 22:01

Thanks my friend
I am really sick with all the stupid articles i read in north Europe and USA mainstream media and worst of all people in this countries believe it.

I will post this link everywhere i can.

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Effie June 26, 2011 at 13:37

BRAVO!!!

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theorist June 25, 2011 at 00:07

A purposeful audio mix up by the BBC. Can’t have the truth being spoken and understood. Better to mash up the mix and if anyone asks, make a standard ‘technology fault’ PR apology. If the truth about the IMF and European banks is repeated in the mainstream media enough times people might start to worry or wake up and open their eyes to see the new world order quickly approaching. A conspiracy ? DON’T BE AFRAID PEOPLE OF EARTH, YOUR GOVERNMENTS LOVE YOU AND HAVE YOUR BEST INTERESTS AT HEART.

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ghhj June 25, 2011 at 00:27

Is it a kind of racism against Greeks?yes why not? The international media, blame all the greek people, not only greek politicians. One time were the Jews , now are the Greeks.

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marina June 25, 2011 at 02:26

This show offered nothing in terms of in depth analysis, so of’course you were not allowed any time to delve into the issues. The presenter’s questions were not going to the heart of the problem and the time he allowed to his guest to elaborate on their views was only enough for them to express a generic “opening statement” with no opportunity to use evidence, examples, comparisons etc. All in all, a very poor quality show in terms of journalistic merit.

But thank you for trying anyway!

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Jérôme E. Roos June 25, 2011 at 09:47

Thanks Marina. Unfortunately I couldn’t see the show myself because they don’t broadcast in the U.S., but I did feel like it was very strange to just cut me off like he did and only provide 40 seconds to discuss a topic so vast and so complex. It ended up exactly like you said: like a generic statement with absolutely no factual evidence to back it up.

Because I couldn’t see the show, I didn’t know that’s what happened to other guests as well — I just kinda assumed it was just me who got unlucky. Hmmm, all in all, I guess your comment only confirms the points we have all been making for a long time: the mainstream media are simply unwilling or incapable of reporting neutrally, adequately and critically on the issues that truly matter.

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marina June 25, 2011 at 16:17

Well, this seems to be the case with all mainsteam media nowdays. They keep saying that wages doubled in the last decade, but they offer no context for their statements. No information about what does this mean in real terms, how much are the wages, how much has the cost of living increased at the same time etc.

As a Greek living in the UK, I am always gobsmacked when I go back and have to pay three times as much for basic goods in Greece as I do in the UK -and I am talking about food, clothes, shoes, toothpaste etc. And imagine that a friend of mine who lives in Germany found the UK too expensive!

Unfortunately, most people get their information from mainsteam media which is very disheartening.

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Nicosgr June 25, 2011 at 14:51

If somebody can translate this in English. I can not express my thoughts in English
Thanks

Όλη η ιστορία με τα πακέτα διάσωσης και τα νέα δανεια γίνεται για να ξεφορτώσουν οι τράπεζες τα τοξικά κεφάλαια στην ΕΚΤ και να πάρουν κοψοχρονιά οι έχοντες τον Δημόσιο πλούτο της χώρας. Μόλις θεωρήσουν ότι πέτυχαν τον στόχο τους θα μας στείλουν στον αγυριστο. Όταν θα έρθει αυτή η ώρα και θα έχουν μετακυλήσει την χασούρα στις πλάτες του Γερμανικού, Γαλλικού κτλ λαού θα δειτε σκηνες απείρου κάλους με τους Έλληνες στον ρόλο του κακού πολίτη που κατεστρεψε την ευημερία των Ευρωπαίων πολιτών.
Αυτό που πρέπει να κανουμε για να σπάσουμε την δρόμο που έχει πάρει η ιστορία είναι να πτωχευσουμε τώρα. Σίγουρα η ζωή όλων μας θα είναι πολύ χειρότερη από αυτην που κάνουμε τώρα χωρίς να γίνει τόσο δραματική όπως την περιγράφεις (π.χ το πετρέλαιο μπορεί να έρθει με διακρατικές συμφωνίες με άλλες χώρες και μάλιστα σε ποιο συμφέρουσα τιμή. Το ίδιο με την ενέργεια κτλ) Όμως θα αποκτήσουμε πλεονεκτήματα που δεν τα έχουμε τώρα. Φτηνός τουριστικός προορισμός, μεγάλη αυξηση αγροτικής παραγωγης, επαναφορά εργοστασίων και βιοτεχνιών λόγω χαμηλού πλέον κόστους, περισσότερες εξαγωγές από εισαγωγές κτλ.
Το θέμα είναι να προλάβουμε να πτωχεύσουμε πριν μας πτωχεύσουν οι άλλοι. Γιατί τότε θα είναι πού πιο δύσκολα τα πράγματα.

Οι Έλληνες είμαστε λαός που έχει επιζήσει στα δύσκολα. Τα καταφέραμε σε πολύ πιο χαλεπούς καιρούς. Θα τα καταφέρουμε και τώρα.

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ghhj June 26, 2011 at 00:22

i agreed with you. They must let us leave eurozone. It is our choice. And yes for me is better to bankrupt NOW , and not latter with more loans, from northeuropeans. Please tell to them. The greek people don’t want more loans , that’s why we fight everyday in syntagma square .

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Francisco Javier June 25, 2011 at 20:01

As a Spaniard, I feel your pain.

It’s the old prejudices from North Europeans to South Europeans all again. Only because they see our countries as a vacation spot, thanks to our better climate, they think our countries are abloat of lazy people, who love better to nap than to eat (working). They don’t see that the retirement age of France is 60 years old (there were riots a few ago because their politicians floated the idea that it should be raised to 62), while in Spain, and others, is higher. Here, for example, is 65, and is being raised, with the excuse of the crisis to 67. Our minimum salary is half or less than the ones of France or Germany,while our prices, thanks to the Euro, are the same nowadays.

And, lately, Germans are eager to blame “southern countries” of their administrative problems. Recently, when they had a problem with an E. Coli outbreak, the first thing they did was to blame Spanish vegetables, prior to any investigation. Two weeks later, when Spain had lost millions of Euros of revenue and tons of fresh vegetables were dumped, they discovered (after one or two fumbles more) that the infection came from soy sprouts cultivated in… Lower Saxony, Germany.

And they are crying for the money they have to invest in the EU, but they are quick to forget that half of the war compensations that they had to pay for the World War II were waived (one of whose debtors is yes, Greece). Or that they received the Marshall Plan when they had to rebuild the country.

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effiegr June 26, 2011 at 00:33

“And, lately, Germans are eager to blame “southern countries” of their administrative problems. Recently, when they had a problem with an E. Coli outbreak, the first thing they did was to blame Spanish vegetables, prior to any investigation. Two weeks later, when Spain had lost millions of Euros of revenue and tons of fresh vegetables were dumped, they discovered (after one or two fumbles more) that the infection came from soy sprouts cultivated in… ”

i saw it, really now they think , because they are a big power in EU , that can blame anyone for their problems.

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Clarissa Aubrey June 26, 2011 at 14:55

This is a great article Jerome, thanks for posting. I too have given some brief phone interviews to the BBC in the past 10 days. I must say, BBC Radio is much friendlier on the whole. The line of questioning on TV is much more aggressive. And no time to properly expand on the issues.

In all the interviews, I did try to highlight the fact that noone is in actual fact bailing out the Greek people, EU is collectively bailing out its insolvent banking sector.

Anyway, I am an optimist, I believe Justice and Truth will prevail… sooner rather than later!

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Sandrina June 27, 2011 at 21:00

All world events show us that media works in interests of their governments and powerful corporations. Media has to listen and spread opinion about how Greeks deserved it. If they would do otherwise people will start to think there is something wrong with current global policy systems, IMF and EU, and other similar institutions, and people in power wouldn’t like that.

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alfred June 28, 2011 at 08:57

At first glance your arguments seemed convincing but fact is Greece is insolvent. Accepting the truth is hard, but fact is accepting austerity is the only possible way out. Lets look at the alternative. If Greece would leave the Eurozone and reintroduce the drachma, the currency would devalue by about 50-70 percent. This causes inflation and a further erosion of consumption and living standards. Greece would also cut its public debt by 50-70 percent. It would lose access to fresh capital, investments in the countries infrastructure would cease, output would plummet and unemployment would soar. Greece’s banks are already in troubled waters, and could become insolvent and close their doors. There are just no good options for the people of Greece, nevertheles when you are drowning you should accept help. Please stop whing and get back to work.

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Jérôme E. Roos June 28, 2011 at 10:18

I hope you’re aware that this single sentence is a contradictio in terminis: “Greece is insolvent; therefore, austerity is the only possible way out.” Yes, Greece is insolvent. But austerity is exactly the polar opposite of the policy response that would get a country out of insolvency. Indeed, austerity is the policy ‘choice’ being forced onto Greece by European lenders, exactly because they are in denial of the fact that Greece is insolvent.

If you understood your basic economics, you would know what the logical conclusion of insolvency is: default. That’s the only way out — and it’s the exact polar opposite of the austerity measures being enforced right now. The lenders are going to have to take a massive cut — there’s no other way, because, as you mentioned, Greece is insolvent. Every austerity-tied bailout that the EU keeps pushing down the throats of the Greek people will only exacerbate the problem by increasing Greece’s sovereign debt.

Now, if you look at the history of financial crises, from the East-Asian crisis of 1997-’98 to the Argentinian crisis of 1998-’01, you will see that it’s always been the countries that rejected the neoliberal orthodoxy of additional austerity measures that recovered from their crises strongest and fastest. From Malaysian capital controls to Argentina’s break of the peso-dollar peg and its audacious sovereign default, there are plenty of alternative policy tools available. Indeed, there are options for Greece, they’re just being entirely ignored by the European and Greek political establishment.

Yes, if you are drowning you should accept help, but only help that will keep you from drowning. The EU’s ‘help’ is a chimera, an illusion. It will only make Greece drown faster. The sooner we accept that Greece is insolvent, the better. Because the sooner we accept its insolvency, the sooner we can start planning for an orderly debt restructuring that minimizes the fall-out to the European and global financial system.

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alfred June 28, 2011 at 11:33

it is one common trademark of all left ideology to cast the blame for everything onto neoliberal plolitics. While i am not a defender of crass neoliberal Keynesian economics i accept the fact that open societies are best served by liberal markets. The other option is a Chavez-typ socialism with all its consequences for the people. I would say this is also a form of austerity and i am not sure if the Greek people are up for it.

Contrary to your arguments there is no good example of debt restructoring without appropriate austerity. Argentina had to go through a very painful adjustment process.

There is nothing on the horizon that is going to prevent Greece from having to impose some from of austerity. It is the first step and it is necessary. I am sure if Greece can deliver, some form of orderly restructoring will follow, in fact it’s planing is already underway. Though it is important that it must not be seen as punishment, after all it is up to the Greek people to live up to their responsibility towards their country and their European partners.

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Isaac The Greek June 29, 2011 at 02:04

OK Alfred, now tell us the truth (Greeks will easily grasp the tone of my questioning), who’s paying you to post comments in this conversation: the IMF, the Bildenbergs or the Israeli government?

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David Rothschild October 26, 2011 at 12:25

Rothschild…..

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Svenska June 30, 2011 at 11:39

Hi Jerome!
Your information on food prices is wrong. I am Swedish and I’ve always heard that we (together with our Nordic neighbours) have the most expensive food in Europe. Since Greece is a part of Europe I went to the source of your article, and I couldn’t find it (the Greek source you provided). Instead I went to Eurostat and I found this: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-SF-11-028/EN/KS-SF-11-028-EN.PDF

As you can see, EL (Greece) is somewhere around the middle) and nowhere near to be as high as you claim.

You also claim in your article that Northern Europeans (like myself) are actually earning money on the 8 % interest rate that the IMF and EU wants Greece to pay. Could you please include the sources for that ? I’d like to see the individual sources for how Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark are making money out of this? We are all (apart from Iceland) netto payers to the EU (and yes, I can certainly send you a million sources for that) and do you mean that we are going to get money from the EU of the Greek payments? The only way I can possibly imagine that you are thinking, is that we would pay less to the EU. That is certainly at odds with the fact that the European parlament want all of the Nordic countries (apart from Iceland ) to pay more to the EU. I really do not understand your argument at all, or your basis for your claim that we are making money out of the EU crises. I have studied economics and have access to most publications though university, so please, feel free to provide me with links.

Here is a source for the claim that the EU wants even more money from us:
http://www.euractiv.com/en/regional-policy/eu-cohesion-policy-2014-2020-linksdossier-501653
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13970135

Basically, it is just to take a look at the proposal that the European Commission gave.

I am very much looking forward to your answer.
Thank you.

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Jérôme E. Roos June 30, 2011 at 12:15

Dear Swede :)

Thanks for your message. Unfortunately I don’t have much time to reply, so I’m just gonna give you two very simple answers:

1) I never mentioned anything about food prices specifically. I did write that living costs in Greece are the highest of Europe (as of 2008). Source: Consumer Protection Center (KEPKA), in the following article in the Ekathimirini newspaper: Cost of living hits European high in Greece.

2) In the current set-up, Northern European governments (not necessarily their citizens) are actually meant to profit from the Greek bailout. The interest rate on the EU emergency loans given to Greece last year was 5.2 percent (did I write 8 percent? that’s wrong: that was actually last year’s bond yield at which the ECB bought up Greek bonds on secondary markets — my bad!).

Either way, the EU’s 5.2 percent is higher than the interest rate the EU itself pays to raise the funds for the bailout. While I can’t find the specific numbers for Greece right now, this article here, for example, makes the calculations for Ireland, whose creditors are expected to make some 7bn euros over the life of the bailout loans.

Alternatively, here’s how the IMF will benefit from the Greek bailout:

“To make its loan, the IMF will borrow from the U.S. Federal Reserve and the other central banks it taps and pay them interest of about 0.25% on the money; the IMF will then charge Greece about 3% on the loan.” Source: Wall Street Journal.

Now that 3 percent IMF rate is actually cancelled out by inflation (2.7 percent in the EU), but the present 4.2 percent EU rate (it was lowered by 1 percent earlier this year) will still earn EU governments a profit in the long run (assuming, of course, that the loans are actually paid back, which is doubtful, as I have argued elsewhere).

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Svenska June 30, 2011 at 18:00

Hi Jerome!

Thank you for your very quick answer. I agree, you said living cost, not consumer prices (although they are part of it). But, when I checked the source they claimed that Greece had the highest prices in Europe on supermarket prices (it says so at the end of the article). I argue that that is not correct, and when googling KEPKA, it was all Greek to me :-) . Where is their information from. How can they differ so much from Eurostat? The information I have on living cost also says differently.
http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/rankings_by_country.jsp
and here:
http://www.finfacts.ie/costofliving.htm
I know the second source only covers cities, but I’d still like to point out that on every list that I have seen apart from the Greek one, put the Nordic countries and cities first. ? Basically – how can anything be more expensive than Oslo?

Second. I agree with you, if Greece(lets assume they can, for arguments sake)pay back the loans to IMF, the countries that have contributed money to the IMF will “make money”. I didn’t think about that, thank you.

However, you claim that the EU, and thus the individual countries will make money out of the Greek situation. I ask you how? As it is now, Sweden, Norway (although they are not in the EU, they are stupid enough to pay), Denmark and Finland pay more money to the EU than they receive each year. We are netto providers as seen by this table:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_the_European_Union#State_by_state_analysis

According to the proposal from the EU Commission (if it goes through), we shall pay even more until 2020.

Also, the Nordic government and banks do not really have any exposure to Greece, so the only way we can make money out of it is a) through IMF which you reminded me b) through the EU.

So, since the Greek are (in theory) going to start to pay back, will our fees be lowered? No, they will not, the EU proposal is to make us pay more. And even if our fees were lowered, it wouldn’t mean that we would stop being netto providers.

To say that Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland are making money out of this is like saying that you “make” money when you buy a TV for €1000 instead of €2000. That is why I asked you to give me a calculation/statistic to your claim that the Nordic countries (you said Northern Europe, and we are definately a part of that) could make any money of this. With no government and bank exposure, I really don’t see how, even if I can follow your reasoning (although I not necessarily agree) when it comes to Germany/UK/The Netherlands . The Nordic countries will still pay more than we receive, that is not making money.

So, in conclusion – when you have the time, please provide me with the statistic/the math behind your reasoning that the Nordic countries (except Iceland) will be making money out of this.

Thank you for the discussion, it is very informative./Svenska

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Kostas July 11, 2011 at 21:26

Dear Svenska,
I don’t see any contradictions between your numbers and Jerome’s and I don’t see why one of you should be wrong.
The Eurostat report concerns food and other products prices, while the KEPKA survey 86 specific basic goods. As I am dividing my time between Greece and The Netherlands, I have personal experience of what the monthly supermarket costs are: I’d say Greece is 30-40% more expensive. That’s because certain basic products, such as milk or rice cost twice as much in Greece. I suppose that if you figure in other less essential goods, the North is just as expensive (or even more so). But, believe me, everyday life really is more expensive in Greece than Holland or Germany (I can’t talk about Sweden, because I’ve never done my monthly shopping there).
On the second point, the loan’s terms have been officially stated and should be easy to find (I believe the interest fluctuates between 5,5 to 8%, quite larger than what banks have to pay when they are borrowing money). Of course, the lenders are not making any profits now and it’s unsure that they ever will, since Greece can probably never repay these loans on the current terms.
The contributions to the EU budget is another matter, completely separate from the loans. These are paid according to each member-states wealth. Now, I am accustomed to rich people complaining about paying more taxes and rich countries about paying higher contributions, but how would you have it exactly?
Please don’t tell me how it sucks to be rich…

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Renie Spijkerman February 23, 2012 at 21:17

http://www.facebook.com/groups/251285931618700/
In this group you can find all the articles that back up most of the numbers in the article, including some amazing articles by world renowned Professors, politicians and journalists. Just to keep an open mind!

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