Thoughts from Athens

I talked to someone in the shipping business this morning. He happens to be Greek and has substantial interests in the country. We never did get around to talking about ships. Some of his words on the status quo in Greece:

The situation today is worse than ever. Business has stopped
The world does not appreciate the extent of social deterioration in the country.
Soup kitchens are forming to feed people.
Many old age homes are desperate. Many are indebted. The have been pleading for donations.
Wealthy ship owners have been discussing a private initiative to provide support for those on the edge.
There is no possibility for a unity government. There is less chance for this in Greece then there is in the USA. You think there is a problem between Democrats and Republicans? Here, they hate each other.
Papandreou was desperate to get out. He could not see how he could continue to play a confrontational role with the Greek people. He was losing his ability to maintain civil order. He did not want to govern a country that was going to become either a police state, or fall into a state of revolution.
An interim government may pass new laws and make promises to the EU and IMF. Most in the government want to stay in the EU and stick with the Euro. It’s in their best interests to do so. That’s what the EU is pushing them day and night to do.
It’s way to late for this type of orderly transition. It will end badly for Greece.

There is a sense of optimism in the markets and the press that a soft landing can be achieved in Europe. That a “solution” is hours away. Only “one more” vote in parliament is required in any of the countries facing trouble. The financial resources needed to address the problem are available. There may be a temporary liquidity issue but solvency is not a question. The social, political and economic consequences of what will come are all manageable.

I thought I would provide this fellow’s thoughts as a contrast to all that hopium.