Richard Wolff explains the foundation and nature of the crisis in Greece

An extremely simple, clear and powerful explanation of the historical foundation and nature of the present crisis in Greece

Published on May 12, 2015

Development, Thought and Policy Lecture Series: Austerity and Neoliberalism in Greece, sponsored by the Julien J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs (http://www.newschool.edu/public-engag…), at the Milano School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy

Samir Amin: Glory to the Lucid Courage of the Greek People, Facing the European Crisis

Source:  GlobalFaultlines
8 July 2015

The Greek People are an example to Europe and the world.

samir amin 3With courage and lucidity the Greek people have rejected the ignoble diktat of European and international finance.  They have won a first victory by affirming that democracy cannot exist unless it knows how to put itself at the service of social progress.  They have unmasked the farce of democracy that accepts submission to the degradation of social conditions demanded by the dictatorship of finance.

Social progress is illegal in Europe.

Europe has been constructed systematically to reduce “the danger of democracy” to zero.  Since the end of the Second World War, the United States, Jean Monet, and Robert Schuman (two Vichyites) have initiated the preparation to restore the legitimacy of the political forces that were compromised through Europe’s collaboration with the Nazis.  The construction of the European Communities, and later the forced adoption of a constitution, despite being rejected among others by the French referendum (an unparalleled denial of democracy), has enabled the rise of a dictatorship of finance capital.

Deceived by the systematic brainwashing by media pundits in the service of the financial oligarchy, the European peoples fed on the illusions that still remain powerful enough to destroy their capacity to respond to the challenge.  They must “save Europe and the euro from the debacle,” they still largely believe (now a little less so in Greece and Spain).  Europe as it is — and it cannot be other than what it is so long as it is imprisoned within the fetters of its institutions — has declared illegal any attempt to question the odious established order.  The Greek people, by their choice, became outlaws.

The euro is not viable.

The subsystem of the euro violates the elementary rules of a sane and feasible management of the currency.  It imposes common rules of so-called “competitiveness” on economies too unequal to bear the consequences of them.  The euro has made it possible to wipe out the progress made earlier within the context of the emergence of productive systems composed largely of small and medium enterprises in order to open up a restricted market to raids by financial monopolies.  Spain is a tragic example.  Others — Finland and even France — in turn are victims of it.  The euro is now only the tool for a rerun of the German Europe.

The crisis is not that of the Greek debt, but actually that of Europe and the euro.

Shame on European governments.

Shame on all those who have accepted the idea that the “troika” represents the European peoples.  Shame on the governments that have installed in the presidency of “their Europe” a Luxembourgian functionary in the service of a tax haven; installed in the management of “their central bank” a character who made a career at Goldman Sachs, the bank associated with all the financial villainies of the century; installed at the head of the IMF a good pupil incapable of understanding anything other than what she was taught.  It’s not a case of men and women of politics, of whatever side they may be, but just a case of contemptible characters.

Europe presents itself to Greece in the figure of those nostalgic of fascism.

The heroic Greece liberated itself from Italian fascists and German Nazis.  “Europe” then intervened in Greece, in the uniforms of British (and then US) officers to massacre the children of the Resistance and restore the power of fascist collaborators.  The reconquest of democracy by PASOK’s electoral victory in 1981 permitted some incontestable social achievements; but it also opened the path to “Europeanist” illusions; the Greek people now find themselves once again vis-à-vis the real Europe dominated by the financial oligarchies.  So they are rediscovering the memory of their past and the debt that Germany, the inheritor of the Nazi debt, still owes them.  Shame on Mrs. Merkel, whose government refuses to recognize that the Greek people have a right to reparations.

The Greek state must be reformed in a democratic spirit.

Yes, the Greek state suffers from serious defects, which result, among other things, in tax evasion.  But who can undertake the necessary reforms?  Certainly not “the friends of Europe.”  Those are the very same who lied about the Greek debt upon Greece’s accession to the euro, with the active complicity of Goldman Sachs, whose servant is none other than the president of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.  The Greek ship owners?  The cheats who have always benefited from attentive care of international banks and the IMF.  SYRIZA is the only Greek government capable of reforming the Greek state in a democratic spirit and making the rich pay.  A nightmare for the Europe that cannot tolerate this choice — only the poor must pay!

The struggle continues.

The Europe of billionaires of finance does not intend to renounce its objective: slaughter the Greek people to teach a lesion and prevent a contagion of democracy.  Let us not forget that if the ruling classes of western and central Europe (still) do not need fascism at home, they do not hesitate to solicit the help of fascists elsewhere, as we can see in Ukraine.

The European peoples must take the measure of their responsibilities.  With PODEMOS, the Spanish people have issued another wake-up call.  It now falls to the French, the Germans, the British, and other peoples of the European continent to understand that the Greek people’s struggle is theirs as well.

The alternative is now clear and visible, for Greece and for all those, in Europe and the rest of the world, who are inspired by the same social and democratic aspirations.  Defy the so-called European “constitution”; dismantle the euro and replace it by negotiated management of a snake of national currencies; send Draghi back to his masters in New York pending the closure of the fake central bank in Frankfurt; derail the IMF by firming up financial arrangements beyond its reach, as the Shanghai Group and the ALBA have taken the initiative in doing so.

With whom to wage these battles?  The range of political forces who are beginning to understand that austerity (for workers, not for oligarchs) and regressive stagnation that inevitably accompanies it no longer have a future is widening day by day, to the point of now including politicians of all stripes, like François Fillon in France.  Great Britain has lost confidence in this Europe mired in mediocrity, even though England remains neoliberal, more Atlanticist and less European than ever.  Of course, the apparent rallying of certain far-right formations remains, for me, suspect.  Fascists are lying demagogues par excellence.

In this situation it is incumbent upon the forces of the potentially radical left to take back the initiative, with SYRIZA and PODEMOS who have primed the movement for it.  Failing that, Europe will not be able to avoid implosion and will be engulfed in chaos.

Source:  Glory to the Lucid Courage of the Greek People, Facing the European Crisis | Samir Amin

implosion of capitalismthe world we wish to seeeurocentrismSamir Amin is director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal.  His books published by Monthly Review Press include The Liberal VirusThe World We Wish to SeeThe Law of Worldwide ValueThe Implosion of Contemporary Capitalism, and Three Essays on Marx’s Value Theory.  En français; em português.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.

Latin American Leaders Congratulate Greece on Referendum Win

Source:  TeleSUR

6 July 2015

Leaders from across the region issued their congratulations to the Greek people following the historic referendum.

latam leaders congratulate tsiprasLatin American leaders have congratulated the Greek government and its people, following Sunday’s historic referendum, in which voters elected to reject debt austerity proposals by their European lenders.

A victory against the financial terrorism carried out by the IMF

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, describing the result tweeted, “The ‘no’ vote in Greece is a victory against the financial terrorism carried out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”

The beginning of the liberation of the European people

Bolivia’s left-wing president, Evo Morales, said, “I congratulate the great Greek people for the victory of “no” … which is a defeat of European imperialism. It is the beginning of the liberation of the European people. My respect and admiration for the historic Greek people, the birthplace of democracy. The Greek people have defeated the harshest capitalism”

Majority support of the Greek people for the courageous policy of your government

Cuba’s Raul Castro also sent a message to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras saying “I extend sincere congratulations on the victory of the No vote in the referendum …that result shows the majority support of the Greek people for the courageous policy of your government. I reiterate my highest consideration and esteem.”

Solidarity with the brave Greek people and their Government

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner also lent her support to the Greek people.  She tweeted:  “On behalf of our People and Government, our solidarity with the brave Greek people and their Government.”

Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, tweeted the overwhelming vote against the proposed austerity measures by European creditors represented “solid backing” for Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras: “In Greece, the vote against the policies of cuts the creditors asked for won 61%, giving solid backing to Prime Minister Tsipras.”

A debt audit that found the country’s debt illegal and illegitimate

Ecuador, like Greece, held a debt audit that found the country’s debt illegal and illegitimate and that later led to the South American nation substantially reducing its repayments to creditors. Ahead of the vote, Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said Greece should ignore the advice of the IMF and international financial bureaucracies

Source:  Latin American Leaders Congratulate Greece on Referendum Win TeleSUR

Message from Raúl to Prime Minister of Greece on referendum victory

Source:  Granma
Havana

raul 65July 5, 2015

Compañero Alexis Tsipras
Prime Minister
Hellenic Republic

Esteemed Prime Minister:

I extend to you my most sincere congratulations on the ‘NO’ victory achieved in the referendum held in Greece, July 5, 2015

This result demonstrates the majority support of the Greek people for the courageous policy of the government over which you preside.

I reiterate the assurance of my highest consideration.

Raúl Castro Ruz
President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba

Source:  Message from Raúl to Prime Minister of Greece  Granma

Fidel’s letter of congratulation to Greek PM on referendum result

Source:  enikos.gr

fidel votes in local elections 2015Hon. Mr. Alexis Tsipras
Prime Minister of Greece:

I congratulate you warmly on your brilliant political victory, details (of which) were followed closely on the Telesur channel.

Greece is very familiar among Cubans. It taught philosophy, art and science of antiquity when we studied in school, and with them, the most complex of all human activities: the art and science of politics.

Your country, especially its courage at this juncture, arouses admiration among Latin American and Caribbean peoples of this hemisphere to see how Greeks, against external aggression, defend their identity and culture. Nor (should we) forget that a year after Hitler’s attack on Poland, Mussolini ordered his troops to invade Greece, and that brave country repelled the attack and drove back the invaders, forcing the deployment of German armored units towards Greece, deviating from the initial target.

Cuba knows the value and the fighting capacity of the Russian troops, which, together with the strength of their powerful ally the People’s Republic of China, and other nations of the Middle East and Asia, always try to avoid war, but never allow any military aggression without overwhelming and devastating response.

In the current political situation in the world, where peace and the survival of our species hang in the balance, every decision, more than ever, must be carefully developed and implemented, so that no one can doubt the honesty and seriousness of many of the most responsible and serious leaderships’ struggle today to face the calamities that threaten the world.

We wish you, esteemed colleague Alexis Tsipras, the greatest success.

Sincerely,

Fidel Castro Ruz

Source:  Fidel Castro’s letter to Tsipras  enikos.gr

Greeks Say ‘No’ to Troika Bailout Terms by Wide Margin

With over 99 percent of the votes counted, Greeks have clearly rejected the austerity reforms demanded by European lenders.

Streets in cities across Greece have erupted into celebrations as results from Sunday’s referendum showed voters clearly rejecting the bailout terms put forward by the country’s lenders.

The ‘No’ side is leading in the non-binding referendum by over 60 percent, and are ahead in every electoral district in the country. The margin in the results is much larger than projected.

Greek Referendum Results

pie chart 4a2greeks celebrate referendum victoryAlexis Tsipras votesMore than 10 million people were eligible to participate in the vote, which was called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after bailout talks with European lenders failed. The Syriza government also responded by closing the banks and imposing capital controls after announcing it would not make the June 30 deadline for repayment to the IMF.

According to teleSUR correspondents, voter turnout was registered at 70 percent with polling stations closed at 19:00 (local time). In order for the referendum results to be valid, the voter turnout must reach 40 percent.

The referendum in Greece has taken place without any incidents, the Greek Interior Ministry said in a statement Sunday. “Until now, there have been no complaints or reports about the problems during the voting in the referendum,” the statement said.

“Today is a day of celebration because democracy is a cause to celebrate, to be joyful. And when democracy conquers fear and blackmail, then it also leads to redemption, and a way forward,” Tsipras said in a statement after casting his vote in Sunday’s Referendum.

greeks celebrate referendum victory 2

greeks celebrate referendum victory 3

"No" supporters hold a banner during celebrations in Athens, Greece July 5, 2015.  REUTERS/Dimitris Michalakis

“No” supporters hold a banner during celebrations in Athens, Greece July 5, 2015. REUTERS/Dimitris Michalakis

Leading up to the vote, Tsipras urged the people to vote “No”, saying it would strengthen his left-wing government’s position in talks with international creditors also known as the troika, comprised of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

“Many may try to ignore the will of a government. But no one can ignore the will of a people who are seeking to live with dignity, to live life on their own terms,” said Tsipras after casting his ballot Sunday. The left-wing leader and his Syriza government have been trying to keep their anti-austerity pledges that propelled them to victory in the country’s January general elections.

long live greek democracyDespite pushing a “Yes” on the bailout deal, European leaders acknowledged that the offer from European creditors may not be on the table following the Greek vote. The current crisis has sent shock waves through the world’s financial markets, which fear the repercussions of a ‘Grexit’ from the Euro.

Source:  Greeks Say ‘No’ to Troika Bailout Terms by Wide Margin  TeleSUR

Thousands Rally in Greece Ahead of Historic Referendum

Source:  TeleSUR
July 4 2015

Tens of thousands rallied in Greece Friday, in rival rallies for and against a bailout that comes with more austerity measures. Close to 25,000 rallied in Athens’ Syntagma Square in opposition to austerity and support of the Syriza government.

Solidarity protests have also swept across Europe as other cities rally in support of Greece ahead the national referendum on accepting or rejecting further austerity. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged Greeks to vote “no” in the referendum to reject a bailout deal that includes more austerity measures.

Demonstrators hold up letters spelling the word 'No' in Greek during an anti-austerity rally in Syntagma Square in Athens, July 3, 2015. Photo:Reuters

Demonstrators hold up letters spelling the word ‘No’ in Greek during an anti-austerity rally in Syntagma Square in Athens, July 3, 2015. Photo:Reuters

Demonstrators gather in front of the Greek parliament building in Syntagma Square in Athens to attend an anti-Austerity rally, Greece, July 3, 2015.  Photo:Reuters

Demonstrators gather in front of the Greek parliament building in Syntagma Square in Athens to attend an anti-Austerity rally, Greece, July 3, 2015. Photo:Reuters

Protestors wave Greek flags in front of the parliament building during an anti-austerity rally in Athens, Greece, July 3, 2015. Tsipras, elected in January on a promise to end six years of austerity, extolled a packed Syntagma square in central Athens to spurn the tough terms of an aid deal offered by international creditors to keep the country afloat.  Photo:Reuters

Protestors wave Greek flags in front of the parliament building during an anti-austerity rally in Athens, Greece, July 3, 2015. Tsipras, elected in January on a promise to end six years of austerity, extolled a packed Syntagma square in central Athens to spurn the tough terms of an aid deal offered by international creditors to keep the country afloat. Photo:Reuters

People hold signs supporting Greece during a pro-Greece protest in front of European Union office in Barcelona, Spain, July 3, 2015. The sign reads "No. No to troika".  Photo:Reuters

People hold signs supporting Greece during a pro-Greece protest in front of European Union office in Barcelona, Spain, July 3, 2015. The sign reads “No. No to troika”. Photo:Reuters

See more at:  Thousands Rally in Greece Ahead of Historic Referendum  

Source:  Thousands Rally in Greece Ahead of Historic Referendum   TeleSUR

Nobel laureate tells TIME that the institutions and countries that have enforced cost-cutting on Greece “have criminal responsibility”

Source:  time.com
June 29 2015

Stiglitz: Stimulus, not austerity, will boost growth and create job

joseph stiglitzA few years ago, when Greece was still at the start of its slide into an economic depression, the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz remembers discussing the crisis with Greek officials. What they wanted was a stimulus package to boost growth and create jobs, and Stiglitz, who had just produced an influential report for the United Nations on how to deal with the global financial crisis, agreed that this would be the best way forward. Instead, Greece’s foreign creditors imposed a strict program of austerity. The Greek economy has shrunk by about 25% since 2010. The cost-cutting was an enormous mistake, Stiglitz says, and it’s time for the creditors to admit it.

The IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank have criminal responsibility

“They have criminal responsibility,” he says of the so-called troika of financial institutions that bailed out the Greek economy in 2010, namely the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. “It’s a kind of criminal responsibility for causing a major recession,” Stiglitz tells TIME in a phone interview.

Along with a growing number of the world’s most influential economists, Stiglitz has begun to urge the troika to forgive Greece’s debt – estimated to be worth close to $300 billion in bailouts – and to offer the stimulus money that two successive Greek governments have been requesting.

Failure to do so, Stiglitz argues, would not only worsen the recession in Greece – already deeper and more prolonged than the Great Depression in the U.S. – it would also wreck the credibility of Europe’s common currency, the euro, and put the global economy at risk of contagion.

The European Union faces the risk of a chain reaction of financial turmoil that could easily spread to the rest of the global economy

So far Greece’s creditors have downplayed those risks. In recent years they have repeatedly insisted that European banks and global markets do not face any serious fallout from Greece abandoning the euro, as they have had plenty of time to insulate themselves from such an outcome. But Stiglitz, who served as the chief economist of the World Bank from 1997 to 2000, says no such firewall of protection can exist in a globalized economy, where the connections between events and institutions are often impossible to predict. “We don’t know all the linkings,” he says.

Many countries in Eastern Europe, for instance, are still heavily reliant on Greek banks, and if those banks collapse the European Union faces the risk of a chain reaction of financial turmoil that could easily spread to the rest of the global economy. “There is a lack of transparency in financial markets that makes it impossible to know exactly what the consequences are,” says Stiglitz. “Anybody who says they do obviously doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

The prospect of Greece abandoning the euro

Over the weekend the prospect of Greece abandoning the euro drew closer than ever, as talks between the Greek government and its creditors broke down. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was elected in January on a promise to end austerity, announced on Saturday that he could not accept the troika’s “insulting” demands for more tax hikes and pension cuts, and he called a referendum for July 5 to let voters decide how the government should handle the negotiations going forward. If a majority of Greeks vote to reject the troika’s terms for continued assistance, Greece could be forced to default on its debt and pull out of the currency union.

Stiglitz sees two possible outcomes to that scenario – neither of them pleasant for the European Union. If the Greek economy recovers after abandoning the euro, it would “certainly increase the impetus for anti-euro politics,” encouraging other struggling economies to drop the common currency and go it alone. If the Greek economy collapses without the euro, “you have on the edge of Europe a failed state,” Stiglitz says. “That’s when the geopolitics become very ugly.”

By providing financial aid, Russia and China would then be able to undermine Greece’s allegiance to the E.U. and its foreign policy decisions, creating what Stiglitz calls “an enemy within.” There is no way to predict the long-term consequences of such a break in the E.U.’s political cohesion, but it would likely be more costly than offering Greece a break on its loans, he says.

The creditors should admit that the policies that they put forward over the last five years are flawed

“The creditors should admit that the policies that they put forward over the last five years are flawed,” says Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University.What they asked for caused a deep depression with long-standing effects, and I don’t think there is any way that Europe’s and Germany’s hands are clean. My own view is that they ought to recognize their complicity and say, ‘Look, the past is the past. We made mistakes. How do we go on from here?’”

The most reasonable solution Stiglitz sees is a write-off of Greece’s debt, or at least a deal that would not require any payments for the next ten or 15 years. In that time, Greece should be given additional aid to jumpstart its economy and return to growth. But the first step would be for the troika to make a painful yet obvious admission: “Austerity hasn’t worked,” Stiglitz says.

Source:  Nobel laureate tells TIME that the institutions and countries that have enforced cost-cutting on Greece “have criminal responsibility”  Time

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Greece: PM Tsipras announces Referendum on Creditors’ Proposal

Source: keeptalkinggreece.com
June 26 2015

Greek citizens,

For the last six months, the Greek government has been waging a battle under conditions of unprecedented economic asphyxiation, in order to implement your mandate, that of January 25th.

The mandate to negotiate with our partners to bring about an end austerity, and for prosperity and social justice to return to our country once more.

For a sustainable agreement that will respect democracy, as well as European rules, and which will lead to a definitive exit from the crisis.

During the negotiations, we were repeatedly asked to implement memoranda policies agreed to by the previous governments, despite the fact that the memoranda were unequivocally condemned by the Greek people in the recent elections.

We never considered giving in—not even for a moment. Of betraying your trust.

Following five months of tough negotiations, our partners submitted a proposal-ultimatum at the Eurogroup meeting, taking aim at Greek democracy and the Greek people.

An ultimatum that contravenes Europe’s founding principles and values. The values of our common European project.

The Greek government was asked to accept a proposal that will add new unbearable weight to the shoulders of the Greek people, and that will undermine the recovery of the Greek economy and society–not only by fueling uncertainty, but also by further exacerbating social inequalities.

The institutions’ proposal includes measures that will further deregulate the labor market, pension cuts, and further reductions in public sector wages–as well as an increase in VAT on food, restaurants and tourism, while eliminating the tax breaks of the Greek islands.

These proposals–which directly violate the European social acquis and the fundamental rights to work, equality and dignity–prove that certain partners and members of the institutions are not interested in reaching a viable and beneficial agreement for all parties, but rather the humiliation of the Greek people.

These proposals mainly illustrate the IMF’s insistence on harsh and punitive austerity measures. Now is the time for the leading European powers to rise to the occasion and take initiative to definitively end the Greek debt crisis, a crisis affecting other European countries as well, by threatening the very future of European integration.

Greek citizens,

We are facing a historic responsibility to not let the struggles and sacrifices of the Greek people be in vain, and to strengthen democracy and our national sovereignty—and this responsibility weighs upon us.

Our responsibility for our country’s future.

This responsibility obliges us to respond to the ultimatum based on the sovereign will of the Greek people.

Earlier this evening, the Cabinet was convened and I proposed holding a referendum, so that the Greek people can decide.

My proposal was unanimously accepted.

Tomorrow, the Parliament will hold an extraordinary meeting to ratify the Cabinet’s proposal for a referendum to take place next Sunday, on July 5th. The question on the ballot will be whether the institutions’ proposal should be accepted or rejected.

I have already informed the French President, the German Chancellor, and the ECB’s president of my decision, while tomorrow I will ask for a short extension of the program -in writing- from the leaders of the EU and the institutions, so that the Greek people can decide free of pressure and blackmail, as stipulated by our country’s Constitution and Europe’s democratic tradition.

Greek citizens,

I call on you to decide –with sovereignty and dignity as Greek history demands–whether we should accept the extortionate ultimatum that calls for strict and humiliating austerity without end, and without the prospect of ever standing on our own two feet, socially and financially.

We should respond to authoritarianism and harsh austerity with democracy–calmly and decisively.

Greece, the birthplace of democracy, should send a resounding democratic message to the European and global community.

And I personally commit that I will respect the outcome of your democratic choice, whatever it may be.

I am absolutely confident that your choice will honor our country’s history and will send a message of dignity worldwide.

In these critical times, we all have to remember that Europe is the common home of all of its peoples.

That in Europe there are no owners and guests.

Greece is, and will remain, an integral part of Europe, and Europe an integral part of Greece.

But a Europe without democracy will be a Europe without an identity and without a compass.

I call on all of you to act with national unity and composure, and to make a worthy decision.

For us, for our future generations, for Greek history.

For our country’s sovereignty and dignity.

Sources:

Suicides in Greece Increased by 35% During Austerity

Source:  TeleSUR
25 June 2015

20,000 Greeks were rendered homeless within the first two years of the country’s austerity measures.

greece under the imf

 | Photo: Reuters

Austerity measures have created job losses and economic insecurity, devastating some individuals.

Yet another study has found that suicides in Greece increased by 35 percent during the first two years that strict austerity measures were imposed on the country, according to media reports this week.

“Our main finding was that after 2010, when harsh austerity measures were implemented in Greece, we noted a significant increase in suicide rates for the years 2011 and 2012 in comparison to the period between 2003 and 2010,” University of Thessaly Professor George Rachiotis told Medscape Medical News Tuesday. “In addition, we found that there was a significant correlation between suicide rates with an increase in unemployment in Greece, where unemployment has almost doubled [since 2009] and is now approaching 30 percent,” he added.

Working-aged men affected the most

The University of Thessaly was one of the research bodies behind the recent study, which was published in the British Medical Journal in March. The group most affected by the austerity measures were working-aged men between 20 and 59 years of age, where the suicide rate increased from 6.56 to 8.81 per 100,000 population in 2011- 2012 – according to the study that was conducted jointly with the University of Oxford, the European Center on Health of Societies in Transition, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as well as the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.

Suicides also increased for women, however not as markedly as that for men, researchers found. Greece was forced by the European Commission, the European Monetary Fund and the International Monetary Fund to implement severe austerity measures in 2010. These included cuts to pensions and public sector jobs and salaries, as well as increases to indirect taxes and to privatize state-owned industries, the study explained.

Increase in the number of suicides of people over 65

The result was that by 2012, 20,000 Greeks had been rendered homeless, 20 percent of shops in the historic center of Athens were shuttered, and about one in 10 citizens of greater Athens was visiting a soup kitchen on a daily basis, added the study. Researchers also found an increase in the number of suicides of people over 65, noting the particular difficulty for those who were retired, or soon to be retired, and saw their pensions reduce significantly.

Austerity heightens suicide risks directly by creating job losses, especially among public sector workers

“Austerity heightens suicide risks directly by creating job losses, especially among public sector workers, and by increasing economic insecurity,” said Dr Rachiotis in the final report. This is the second major study to find that life under austerity can be devastating. In February, the BMJ published a similar report after research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, Edinburgh University and Greek health authorities also found that suicide in Greece had increased by 35 percent during the same time period.

Source:  Suicides in Greece Increased by 35% During Austerity  TeleSUR