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Monday, February 13, 2012

Greek riots 2011

Greek riots 2011


greek riots 2011 - Greece rocked by riots as up to 60,000 people take to streets to protest against government
Street clashes broke out between rioting youths and police in central Athens today as tens of thousands demonstrated during a nationwide strike against the cash-strapped government.
Hundreds of masked and hooded youths punched and kicked motorcycle police, knocking several off their bikes, as police responded with volleys of tear gas and stun grenades.
The violence spread after the end of the march to a nearby square, where police faced off with stone-throwing anarchists and suffocating clouds of tear gas sent patrons scurrying from open-air cafes.
Police say 16 suspected rioters were detained and two officers were injured.
Rioters used sledge hammers to smash the glass fronts of more than a dozen shops, banks, jewelers and a cinema.
Youths also set fire to rubbish bins and a car, smashed bus stops, and chopped blocks off marble balustrades and building facades to use as projectiles.
Organisers said some 60,000 people took part in the protest. But an unofficial police estimate set the crowd at around 20,000 - including those that took part in a separate, peaceful march earlier Thursday. Police do not issue official crowd estimates for demonstrations.
Thursday's strike - the second in a week - brought the country to a virtual standstill, grounding all flights and bringing public transport to a halt.
State hospitals were left with emergency staff only and all news broadcasts were suspended as workers walked off the job for 24 hours to protest spending cuts and tax hikes designed to tackle the country's debt crisis.
Riot police made heavy use of tear gas during the start-and-stop clashes throughout the demonstration, including outside Parliament.
Strikers and protesters banged drums and chanted slogans such as 'no sacrifice for plutocracy,' and 'real jobs, higher pay.'
People draped banners from apartment buildings reading: 'No more sacrifices, war against war.
The demonstrators included hundreds of black-clad anarchists in crash helmets and ski masks, who repeatedly taunted and attacked riot police with stones and petrol bombs, at one point spraying officers with brown paint.
Thursday's strike shut down all public services and schools, leaving ferries tied up at port and suspending all news broadcasts for the day.
However, some private bank branches were open despite calls from the bank employees' union to participate in the strike.
While their colleagues clashed with groups of protesters, some police joined the demonstration.
About 200 uniformed police, coast guard and fire brigade officers, who cannot go on strike but can hold protests, gathered at a square in the center of the city shortly before the marches got under way.
'The police and other security forces have been particularly hard hit by the new measures because our salaries are very low,' said Yiannis Fanariotis, general secretary of one police association.
Joining the protest 'doesn't feel strange, because we are working people like everybody else and we are all shouting out for our rights,' he said.
The government says the tough cuts are its only way to dig Greece out of a crisis that has hammered the common European currency and alarmed international markets - inflating the loan-dependent country's borrowing costs.
But unions say ordinary Greeks are being called to pay a disproportionate price for past fiscal mismanagement.
'They are trying to make workers pay the price for this crisis,' said Yiannis Panagopoulos, leader of Greece's largest union, the GSEE.
'These measures will not be effective and will throw the economy into deep freeze.'
A general strike last Friday was marred by violence during a large protest march. Riot police used tear gas and baton charges against rock-throwing protesters, who smashed banks and storefronts, while left-wing protesters roughed up Panagopoulos as he was addressing a rally.
The labour unrest could spark fears that the government will have trouble in implementing its new measures.
Greece insists it doesn't need a bailout, and its European partners are reluctant to fund one.
But it has called for European and international support for its program, saying that unless it receives that support and the cost for it to borrow on the market falls, it might have to appeal to the International Monetary Fund for help.
On Wednesday night, Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Pangalos said Greece could bypass the costly process of borrowing from edgy markets by urging international institutions to buy its bonds at a set interest rate.
'We want, if there is an unjustified speculative attack against Greek bonds, to know that one of these institutions that have the substantial means to absorb such market products will come and say "look here, I am buying Greek bonds at this price, with this interest rate,"' Pangalos told private Mega TV.
He did not say which institutions he was referring to, or elaborate on the interest rate.
Markets think some kind of rescue would be organised if default looms. Speculation has focused on possible guarantees for Greek bonds or help from state-owned banks in other eurozone countries.
Thursday's strike shut down all public services and schools, leaving ferries tied up at port and suspending all news broadcasts for the day.
However, some private bank branches were open despite calls from the bank employees' union to participate in the strike.
While their colleagues clashed with groups of protesters, some police joined the demonstration.
About 200 uniformed police, coast guard and fire brigade officers, who cannot go on strike but can hold protests, gathered at a square in the center of the city shortly before the marches got under way.
'The police and other security forces have been particularly hard hit by the new measures because our salaries are very low,' said Yiannis Fanariotis, general secretary of one police association.
Joining the protest 'doesn't feel strange, because we are working people like everybody else and we are all shouting out for our rights,' he said.
The government says the tough cuts are its only way to dig Greece out of a crisis that has hammered the common European currency and alarmed international markets - inflating the loan-dependent country's borrowing costs.
But unions say ordinary Greeks are being called to pay a disproportionate price for past fiscal mismanagement.
'They are trying to make workers pay the price for this crisis,' said Yiannis Panagopoulos, leader of Greece's largest union, the GSEE.
'These measures will not be effective and will throw the economy into deep freeze.'
A general strike last Friday was marred by violence during a large protest march. Riot police used tear gas and baton charges against rock-throwing protesters, who smashed banks and storefronts, while left-wing protesters roughed up Panagopoulos as he was addressing a rally.
The labour unrest could spark fears that the government will have trouble in implementing its new measures.
Greece insists it doesn't need a bailout, and its European partners are reluctant to fund one.
But it has called for European and international support for its program, saying that unless it receives that support and the cost for it to borrow on the market falls, it might have to appeal to the International Monetary Fund for help.
On Wednesday night, Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Pangalos said Greece could bypass the costly process of borrowing from edgy markets by urging international institutions to buy its bonds at a set interest rate.
'We want, if there is an unjustified speculative attack against Greek bonds, to know that one of these institutions that have the substantial means to absorb such market products will come and say "look here, I am buying Greek bonds at this price, with this interest rate,"' Pangalos told private Mega TV.
He did not say which institutions he was referring to, or elaborate on the interest rate.
Markets think some kind of rescue would be organised if default looms. Speculation has focused on possible guarantees for Greek bonds or help from state-owned banks in other eurozone countries.
Greece, a small nation in southern Europe, is having an outsize impact on the U.S. economy amid fears among investors that Greece might default on its debt.
The news comes just as the U.S. is seeing some positive signs regarding unemployment benefits and mortgage payment rates.

Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits in the past three weeks, and more have stayed current on their mortgage payments than at any time since 2006, before the nationwide housing crisis spurred the great recession.

This indicatees that the U.S. economy is recovering, albeit slowly, even as problems in Europe continue to cool the stock market.

The problems in Greece could lead to these probable outcomes:

If the European economic zone countries come to an agreement to bail out Greece, those countries will have less money to spend on American goods, causing job losses here.

If Greece defaults on its debt, it would mean any entities that bought bonds (banks, governments and private investors) would have to readjust their balance sheets. Those entities had relied on the interest payments paid by Greek bonds to fund other investments and buy goods and services, so that money would no longer be there to spend.


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If a full default occurred, other troubled countries, notably Spain and Portugal, could also follow suit, leading to a wave of defaults that would severely affect the European zone and could send shockwaves all the way to Wall Street.

Already, Greeks are rioting in the streets and tossing petrol bombs at riot police. They are protesting austerity measures their government has tried to impose as it works to solve its country's debt crisis. Prime Minister George Papandreou has so far failed to put together a cross-party coalition that could come up with a plan to combat the debt.

The reality is, Greece will need financial support from other European countries to get out of the hole it has dug for itself.

Congress is having enough difficulty resolving the U.S. debt burden, so imagine trying to reach consensus among representatives of different countries with vastly different political majorities and cultures to save a foreign economy that has been severely mismanaged.

"Greece has defaulted already," Richard Bove, an analyst at Rochdale Research, told ABC News. "We are arguing about how we are going to handle this default in a way that is least destructive to bank balance sheets."

Although U.S. businesses, even banks, are not severely exposed to Greece's economy, investors worry that if Greece defaults on its debt and leaves investors such as Greek bond holders out in the cold, financial trouble would spread to other troubled European economies, such as Spain's, Portugal's and Ireland's. If the European economy were to implode in a wave of defaults and associated bank failures, it could pull the U.S. economy down as well, since there is a lot of trade between the U.S. and Europe.

"Large European banks are very intertwined with American banks," said Bove. The question becomes, in the worst case scenario -- a wave of defaults -- "Will these banks be able to absorb a number of defaults from a number of countries?"
Large country defaults have happened before. Argentina defaulted on part of its external debt in 2002, leading to a decade of economic turmoil for that country. Following the default, Argentina received a crucial loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2003 and restructured its massive debt. Today, Argentina is the third largest economy in Latin America.

Next week, European leaders will convene a summit to attempt to deal with the crisis, and another meeting is set for July 11.
Europe has far more money as a whole than Latin America, so perhaps it can avoid the worst case scenario for Greece, and help save their own skins, and ours too.

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