Greece Stages Another 24 Hour Strike (Complete With Teargas) As European Officials Arrive To Enhance Austerity
by Tyler Durden
On the one year anniversary of its first bailout, things in Europe’s basket case are getting much worse once again. Even as senior EU and IMF inspectors arrived in Athens on Wednesday to press Greece to shore up its finances, workers walked off the job to protest against austerity-induced recession, culminating in a 24 hour strike which sees both airports and journalists taking a break from hard work. Oddly ironic this: the “bankers” arrive to make austerity even more aggressive (so there is more value left over to senior bondholders when the bankruptcy commences), just as the country experiences a deja vu moment of strikers on one side and teargas lobbing policemen on the other. Those who wish to follow the protests live, which so far the mainstream media has refused to show, can do so here.
Reuters explains the beyond obvious reason of the IMF’s latest visit to Greece:
The review will determine whether Greece will get a fifth aid tranche from the 110 billion euro bailout that saved it from bankruptcy last year and whether Athens should be given improved loan terms or more aid to avoid debt restructuring.
If Greece did not receive the next 12 billion euro tranche, key to pay 13.7 billion euros of immediate funding needs, it would be tantamount to default.
One year into the EU/IMF deal, investors are convinced the debt-choked country’s bailout is not enough and Greece will be forced to restructure its debt, imposing losses on private bondholders, unless lenders step in with more funds.
Euro zone officials including German Chancellor Angela Merkel say they will wait for the result of the inspection visit before taking any decisions.
The EU and IMF mission chiefs started their visit on Wednesday with a meeting with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou as hundreds of workers on a 24-hour strike prepared gathering to protest against austerity which unions say is strangling the economy.
Athens was nearly deserted with many shops and public services closed and the officials are likely to have seen posters covering the Greek capital reading: “We can’t take it anymore. The rich and the tax evaders should pay.”
Vassilis Hatzigiannis, a 31-year-old striking lawyer said: “We’ve reached a dead-end and the worst still lies ahead of us and our country. This policy is not getting us out of the crisis, without growth we can’t move on.”