It’s all systems go – and money, too – as Greeks prepare for tragedy

Like their ancient Parthenon, Greece’s economy crumbles further into ruins, with the latest data from its banks testifying how worried customers are pulling their cash out by the shed-load, up to €800 million repatriated daily.

Much of the money is flowing abroad – €35.4 billion exported last year, mushrooming to €166 billion so far in 2012 – while Athens shops report a run on non-perishable foods, like dry pasta and tinned items, as people panic buy and prepare for the worst ahead of Sunday’s cliff-hanger election.

Meanwhile, other indicators highlight the impending financial tragedy facing the poor, benighted Greeks…

De La Rue, the British currency-printing giant, is believed to have drawn up contingency plans several weeks ago to produce drachma banknotes should Greece exit the euro. Whether they’ll be worth the paper they’re printed on is debatable.

Bookmakers William Hill has said a Greek exit before the end of 2012 is now odds-on at 5/6. The ailing country is also 1/8 favourite to be first to go. Generous odds, indeed.

ATHENS PARTHENON: Crumbling like the Greek economy

Reuters offered an insight into what Brussels thought of the negotiations with the Greeks about staying in the euro, one frustrated diplomatic saying, ‘Pythagoras didn’t manage to square the circle and God knows these guys don’t have a clue either.’

Greece’s federation of barbers is tearing its hair out over government plans to stop them retiring at 50 on a full pension, because, until now, they were deemed to have a dangerous job – on a par with coal miners and bomb disposal experts. No more running with scissors, then.

According to Transparency International, 18% of Greek households reported paying a bribe in the last twelve months, versus an average 5% across the rest of Europe. That figure puts Greeks on par with Nigerians and Pakistanis for greasing the pockets of officialdom.

Meanwhile, across the Adriatic, as Italy tries to chip away at its mountainous public debt and soothe the concerns of international money markets, more than a dozen lighthouses around the coast of Sardinia are to be leased out as boutique hotels and quirky bed and breakfasts.

Hope the guests remember to leave the lights on when they go to bed at night.


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