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COVID-19 Spikes Worry for Greek Consumers About Financial Future

Αssociated Press

Commuters wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, use the escalators of Keramikos Metro station in Athens, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS - While bank deposits are growing because of two lockdowns totaling 20 weeks over the past 10 months, the COVID-19 pandemic still has Greek consumers anxious about their spending and income and the country’s shaky economy.

Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis had been accelerating a slow recovery from a near decade-long crisis worsened by austerity after the Aug. 20, 2018 end of three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($397.01 billion) that will take decades to repay.

A survey by the Association of Business and Retail Sales of Greece (SELPE) found that consumers expect their disposable income to decline further, leading them to hold down spending, bringing further losses for already-reeling businesses.

Restaurants, bars and taverns have been among the hardest hit and many aren’t expected to survive as the government said even when the lockdown lifts that tough health measures could remain in place, likely to bar indoor dining in the winter.

The retail consumer confidence level in December 2020 was rated at minus 39 points, with only 12 percent of respondents expecting the country’s economy to improve over the next six to nine months, and only eight percent seeing an improvement in their finances.

The survey, conducted with the assistance of ELTRUN, the online commerce laboratory of the Athens University of Economics and Business, also found 70 percent of respondents spend all their disposable income monthly, living check-to-check and hanging on.

Another 9 percent said they spend more than they make, indicating they are borrowing or drawing on other resources as there is fear that unemployment will soon soar as well, bringing anxiety.

Cranky Erdogan Fires at Greece Again After Sea Talks Fiasco 

TNH Staff

A day after a communications breakdown that saw reports that Greece and Turkey would hold exploratory talks after four years - this time over claims to the Aegean and East Mediterranean - only for that to fall apart, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started sniping again.

He has repeatedly sent an energy research vessel and warships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, only to withdraw them each time the European Union said it would consider sanctions demanded by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

With the bloc set to discuss that prospect in March, media outlets said there had been a breakthrough and that the two sides would sit down - in Ankara, not Athens - over their competing claims to the seas.

After Greece denied that was the case, catching the United States off guard as the State Department welcomed the talks that aren’t being scheduled yet, Erdogan blamed Greece for all the trouble.

While he has constantly sent fighter jets and warships to violate Greek airspace and waters, Erdogan accused Greece to raising tension over the seas battle, calling on Mitsotakis’ government to “cease activities… such as “airspace violations and illegal actions on the issue of the islands.”

Speaking to a meeting of European Union ambassadors in Ankara, Erdogan repeated earlier comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, stating that “certain EU member-states have tried to solve their bilateral differences in the corridors of the EU,” said Kathimerini.

“They have taken advantage of the EU’s agenda and hidden behind member-states’ solidarity,” the Turkish President said in what is being seen as a reference to Greece as well as Cyprus, where Turkey has been drilling for oil and gas offshore.

He said that Turkey has been “wronged” over the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus and “does not accept efforts to trap us in our coasts,” falling back on his usual tactic of verbal warfare.