European Union

Greeks Withdraw Millions of Euros Ahead of Weekend's Election


Greek Political Rally

Greeks have withdrawn close to 800 million euros from major domestic banks just days before this weekend's election. Rumors of a Syriza victory and a return of the drachma has lead to panic buying of canned foods in preparation for financial collapse. Much of the panic can be attributed to the lack of polling, which is banned in the run-up to elections. Unofficial polls are being leaked that provide contradictory predictions on the outcome of the upcoming election.

Both of the major parties, Syriza and the New Democracy Party, have pledged to remain in the euro. However, Syriza has pledged to abandon Greece's austerity bailout agreement, a move that would greatly increase the likelihood of a Greek euro exit.

While both Syriza and New Democracy are almost certainly the two most popular parties, it is far from clear if either will be able to form a government after the upcoming election. Smaller and more radical parties may be needed to secure a functional government, and they offer nothing approaching fiscal or political sanity.

There are the communists, who believe that Syriza's anti-privatization policies are too right-wing, and third way socialists, who are part of the socialist international. A left-wing coalition with Syriza and these two other left-leaning parties would almost certainly prompt a swift Greek exit from the eurozone.

Other parties include the nationalist Independent Greeks, who also campaign on an anti-austerity platform, and the Popular Orthodox Rally, whose platform combines tax cuts for individuals and businesses with a strong anti-Turk, anti-Macedonian, and anti-E.U. form of nationalism.

Then there is Golden Dawn, against which both Independent Greeks and Popular Orthodox Rally seem moderate. Recently a Golden Dawn representative, Ilias Panagiotaros, said:

If Chrysi Avgi [Golden Dawn] gets into parliament [as polls predict], it will carry out raids on hospitals and kindergartens and it will throw immigrants and their children out on the street so that Greeks can take their place. 

Golden Dawn, whose campaign slogan was "So we can rid this land of filth" in the last election, achieved some prominent international coverage after one of its MPs assaulted two panelists during a live TV show. The same MP is now suing both women for defamation. 

With all of these parties in contest there is no reason to be optimistic. Whatever government the Greeks manage to put together it will not be one capable or willing to make the reforms Greece needs. The recent bank withdraws indicate many Greeks think the same. 

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  1. What kind of a nut has money in a Greek Bank right now? I can’t believe there is any money left in those banks.

    1. What kind of a nut has money in a Greek Bank right now?

      Government benefits directly deposited into banks? They have to pull it out as soon as it is deposited.

      1. Sure. And that is exactly what I would have been doing for about the last year. And I certainly wouldn’t have any savings in a bank. The money would be there just long enough for me to withdraw the cash. And that is only if I couldn’t set up my direct deposit to a foreign bank.

      2. It’s sort of like a reverse of the “payday race to the bank” that employees of failing companies deal with.

        1. Wait, you saw the old law firm I used to work for in actions?!

          1. I’ve been there too. But not in such a glamorous role; the most interesting actions I worked in were cleaning up after kiddie ball pit vomit incidents.

    2. Yeah, If I were Greek, I’d have had my money in a mattress (or foreign bank account) months ago.

    3. I bet most of the banks aren’t Greek, although they are often forced to partner with local banks, or they buy up local banks.

      In my neighborhood there are tons of banks, most of them foreign (Raiffheisen, Volksbank) or foreign-owned Czech (Komercni Banka).

      If you have your money in Raiffheisen Bank in Greece, isn’t it guarenteed as long as Raiffheisen doesn’t go bankrupt?

      1. I am wondering this in the US. If I have money in Sovereign (big in the Philadelphia area), will there be a problem if Santander (its Spanish parent) fails?

        1. Too big to fail (probably)!

          I have no clue. But I can’t see how a complete collapse of the Greek economy and their pulling out of the Euro would effect savings held in Euros in an Austrian bank. Unless they instituted some sort of bullshit laws, like customers are only allowed to withdraw Euros in Drachmas or something, but I doubt that would happen.

          1. I’m not sure, but that is exactly my idea of what would happen if they left the Euro. Banks shut down for a few days and when they reopen, everyone’s accounts are in Drachma. I would expect that even if the bank is foreign owned, the accounts sort of live in the country where they were opened. I’m really just guessing, though.

        2. You shouldn’t as the FDIC is there for you. I don’t know if the other countries have similar entities for their depositors. The other problem the Greeks are going to have is that the EU has said it might put limits on the amount of Euros they can pull out of the banks (ATMs). A bank (ATM)holiday if you will.

        3. Spoonman, I would expect not, but then, the folks at MF Global didn’t think their money was going to wind up in England backing company bets, either.

          If the Greeks pull out of the Euro, they will be exchanging Euros for drachma. I don’t know exactly how that would occur, at what exchange rate, etc.

          But if I were a Greek, I wouldn’t want to find out. I’d have as much of my money as possible in a foreign-owned bank, in a foreign country. Preferably one with no presence in Greece that could be used against it.

          1. You specify the currency of your account, obviously they are all in euros now. So if the government mandated that all euro accounts get converted to drachmas then that would be pretty fucked up. I wonder if they’d go after dollar accounts in that case, also, probably. That would be some real chaos though.

  2. Sounds like a much more entertaining election than we have here, where one millionaire (Obama) has the gall to bash the other millionaire for being a millionaire.

    1. Liberal millionaire, he can do or say whatever the hell he pleases regardless of how hypocritical it is.

      1. How cynical. Next thing, you’ll tell us that they would forgive a multi-billionaire currency speculator if he only spouted the same tripe they do.

        Damn speculators. Look how they’ve driven down the price of gas in the past month.

        1. I thought becoming cynical was a prerequisite for becoming a libertarian?

          1. I thought it was an inevitable consequence. Six of one…

    2. US politics really is boring as shit.

      1. Seriously. Congress members don’t throw things at each other or throw punches. Would that they did…

        1. Instead they assault college students.

          And then rat fuckers like Weigel blame the victim.

          good times.

      2. Yeah, I want fist fights.

      3. US politics really is boring as shit.

        That’s because there isn’t much difference between a (D) and an (R).

        1. Thats true, if you want to see the real passion from the D’s or R’s, just have the libertarians win. FIGHT!!!

    3. Does Greece have an austerity party? Is anyone pushing that, I didnt see them listed above, if so.

  3. Its almost as if Greek depositors dont want their Euros turned into Drachmas. I dont know how that is possible, after all, no less an authority than Paul Krugman himself has assured us that the ability to devalue their currency will make everything great. There is no way a liberal of such stature as Krugman would advocate a policy that would hurt the common Greek depositor, so the 800 million must come from either evul corperashuns or their right-wing enablers. After all, what poor or middle-class Greek wouldnt want to see his buying power reduced to zero?

    1. They don’t want to go off the Euro, but they expect the other countries of Europe to send them billions in subsidies to make that possible without reducing the government at all. So yes, having your cake and eating it too proves popular with the voters.

      1. OH to be sure the Greeks would love to keep living high on the EU’s tab. My point was not that the average Greek is blameless, my point was that even unsophisticated Greek commoners recognize what Krugman refuses to see, devaluation will fuck the common Greek.

    2. The Greeks probably won’t admit it, but they may have learned somthing from Turkey: hyperinflation is not your friend. I was in Turkey right before the revaluation when it was 1,000,000 lira to the dollar. Somewhere I have an ATM receipt showing that I was a Turkish multibillionaire.

      1. You were prosperous on the Bosporus?

        1. Oh god. I groaned, but I laughed. That should be a line in a They Might Be Giants song, possibly about Istanbul.

          1. You mean a Four Lads song?

        2. I went far at the bazaar.

      2. I remember in ’93 I had a 250000 lira note with a picture of Alanya on it (Alanya was where I was living). I couldn’t afford to take it home with me because it was worth $25 (I was a college student – that was big bucks!!). I went back in ’96 and it was no biggie for me to bring home several 250000 notes in my purse as it was worth a coupla bucks by then.

  4. Shrieking Idiot: “The Greeks don’t respect their authoritah enough!”

    1. Oh, the Greeks have a David Brooks of their own?

      1. Our most obnoxious griefer troll, “Palin’s Buttplug”, aka shrike, was telling me this morning that the problems in Greece exist because the Greeks won’t follow orders and pay their taxes like good little peasants.

  5. lack of polling, which is banned in the run-up to elections

    Of all the things the Greeks are doing wrong, I think they got one thing right.

    1. Why? The polls might at least soften the blow of the election outcome. I always favor more information over less.

  6. If the Golden Dawn tosses out all the foreigners, who will do any work in Greece? The Greeks certainly aren’t willing.

    1. It is going to be great isn’t it? These morons are not even proper communists of fascists. Communists would at least set up a commune and expect people to work to make things better. Fascists would do the same. But these people are just children who expect the world to give them a living.

      I have never seen anything like it. We have an entire country that expects to get something for nothing.

      1. REPORTER: You have a phone around your neck. Why do you need a phone that I pay for?

        CITIZEN: I can stop paying for it.…..ellphones/

    2. Sparta would at least enslave their labor force.

  7. Europe could use a nice little example of a failed communist state on their doorstep. For whatever reason, pre-1991 has been completely purged from their collective memory.

    Kick ’em out of the Euro. Let ’em wallow in their own misery for 10-20 years. And point fingers at them and laugh.

    1. Kicking them out of the Euro will probably be better for the Greeks than staying in. If they stay in, they’ll be hurting for a long time. If they go back to Drachma or whatever, ti will really suck for a while, but a devalued currency will allow them to get some sort of economy going as they will be able to compete on price much better. But in either case, it will really, really suck, especially for the Greeks who were responsible and didn’t behave like spoiled children (I’m sure some must exist).

  8. I’m trying to think of a historic equivalent to this. It’s not quite pre-WWII German hyperinflation.

    Fiscally irresponsible state manages to join EU, recession comes, bubble deflate, and the rot is bared. Voters don’t get it, have hissy-fit, and demand everything magically goes back the way “it used to be.”

    1. Take out the EU portion, and ignoring the recent protest, I would say Russia during any post- communist fiscal crisis.

      1. It is worse than that. Communists at least understood that they had to work to make things better. This is an entire country that expects to be on welfare for life. There really is no historical precedent for it.

        1. But at least America will have a precedent in 10 years.

        2. Let’s not forget the heroic antics of gas station whip guy.

          1. It is game over man.

    2. Greece was expelled from the Latin Monetary Union* in 1908 because it could not exert fiscal discipline and instead debased its currency.

      *A common currency scheme covering France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Venezuela, Serbia, San Marino, and Greece

  9. Not to worry, the EU has it all figured out. They have this nifty new global carbon tax that they will levy on all flights that cross into EU airspace. And the best news is that China, Russia, the US, and other countries are thrilled about it and can’t wait to start paying it. So there is their new money to bail out their failing states, indefinitely. See, Al Gore really is a genius.

  10. That Orthodox party sounds the least crazy, which is frightening.

  11. “so we can rid this land of filth” Funny and horrible at the same time.

    1. Greek fascists. Somewhere in hell the old German fascists are laughing.

      1. I dunno, I got to think even they would think suing two women you assaulted on TV is pretty ballsy.

      2. Huh. I initially assumed that was the pro-immigrant party.

      3. The Metaxas regime that ruled Greece in the late 1930s and early 1940s was actually quasi-fascist and pro-German. The Germans, in fact, expected Greece to stay neutral in the war, and it probably would have, but for Mussolini’s brilliant idea to invade it as the next stepping stone to building the New Roman Empire.

        Summaries here:

        1. The WW2 Germans have no standing to criticize anybody else for a stupid, ill-conceived invasion of a country to the east.

        2. Hey, I found where David Brooks gets his ideology!

          “Metaxism derided liberalism and individualism as roots of cultural degeneracy. The tenets of Metaxism held individual interests to be subordinate to those of the state and it sought to mobilize the Greek people as a disciplined mass in service to the creation of a “new Greece.”

          1. A loophole to Godwin – use “Metaxist!” instead of “Nazi!”

          2. You know who else holds individual interests to be subordinate to those of the state?

            1. Besides David Brooks, you mean?

    2. “so we can rid this land of filth”

      They might want to start here.

    3. “He boasts that will banish dirt to the land of wind and ghosts.”

  12. Been a long times since the Greeks ginned up a tragedy worth watching. The spectacle will be epic to behold.

    1. Either that, or it’s going to cause Aristophanes’ corpse to reanimate itself so that he can write a new comedy about it.

      1. I vote zombie Aristophanes and comedy.

  13. Who would have thought that ‘Being Swarthy’ wouldn’t work out as a national industry.

  14. What’s this Goldie Hawn party?

    1. (spit take)

      1. It’s not Goldie Hawn, it’s the Golden Prawn. Don’t you read your Pynchon?

          1. it’s like golden showers but with a plot.

            1. There is a Chinese buffet in my town called Golden Dawn.

  15. So outside the main parties the Greeks literally have to choose between communists and Nazis? If they form a coalition we will finally see what Commie-Nazis look like.


    2. Commie-Nazies. I hate these guys.

      1. At least it’s an ethos.

      2. Police…


        Police Cops.

    3. will the trains run on time?

  16. Am I the only one who in some small way would love to see Greece devolve into another Somalia?

  17. Reverting to the drachma would end up being another case of the state “pretending to pay people for pretending to work.”

  18. There are the communists, who believe that Syriza’s anti-privatization policies are too right-wing, and third way socialists, who are part of the socialist international…

    “We have both kinds! = Country, AND Western!”

  19. They are so fucked.

  20. One of the writers here was knocking UKIP last week, but whatever the case, you have to get a kick out of Farage:

  21. I’ve got my money down on Greece being the next Somalia.


  22. I’ve got my money down on Greece being the next Somalia.


    1. Fucking submit buttons, how do they work?

  23. You know your country is fucked when the socialists are one of the least crazy political options.

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