Just because one waves a magic wand and austerity measures appear automatically, with unicorns singing, leprechauns dancing and pissing gold coins, and rainbows shooting out of Joaquin Almunia's... assets. Or not. The much delayed budget cuts which are finally being instituted are causing transportation gridlock with taxicab drivers on strike, multi-hour long lines at gas stations, and as of recently, following the customs union workers' strike, an export plunge of 18%, putting the already frayed economy even more on edge.
Exports have fallen 18 percent since the beginning of the customs strike as the shipping of goods via maritime, rail and air links is paralyzed, Christina Sakellaridi, president of the Panhellenic Union of Exporters, told private Skai radio today.
Greek motorists lined up at gas stations as fuel stocks dwindled while a strike by customs workers over government austerity measures stretched into a fourth day, hurting imports and exports.
The Federation of Greek Customs Workers called a three-day strike on Feb. 16 and decided yesterday to extend the action by six days to protest government austerity measures aimed at trimming Europe’s biggest budget deficit.
Greece is once again “hostage to strikes by powerful labor union groups,” the National Federation of Greek Commerce said in an e-mailed statement. The strike is “catastrophic” for the country’s trade and industry as well as shipping, food and transport companies and the Greek consumer, said the Athens- based organization, which represents Greek commerce groups.
Of course, a 5 year old with semi-remedial Economics skills could have told the Greek Prime Minister (not to mention the rusty EU bureaucrats) that all this would happen. How Greece is now supposed to fix its economy when it is caught in the blender of collapsing already horrendous tax receipts, an infrastructure crunch, and trade isolation, is beyond even the financial innovation genius of the Summerses and Blankfeins of the world. But we wish them well nonetheless. And at least the euro is alive and well... for the time being.
P.S. We encourage our greek readers to send us any pictures that capture the true state of the Greek economy.