This is what "savage austerity" looks like
Let's avoid the euphemisms
Today and yesterday, Alphaville put up a pair of posts detailing the terrifying lengths that the Greek state has been forced to go to in order to meet their austerity targets:
The country’s pharmacies are owed €500m by the state-backed healthcare insurer, according to reports. From next week patients will have to stump up the cash for their medicines upfront, and then claim a reimbursement from the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY).
desperatecunning scheme to get Greeks to pay property taxes by bundling them with electricity bills didn’t last long. You guessed it, people stopped paying their electricity bills and now it looks like the power company – which had to be bailed out last month – has stopped even trying to collect the levy.
If the state healthcare company can't pay the pharmacies, it seems somewhat unlikely that it will be able to reimburse patients either. Meanwhile, the nationalised power company looks like it will run out of money again towards the end of June, unless customers start paying their bills again.
All of which goes some way to explaining the curious result that is seen time and time again in Greek opinion polls: contrary to what their actions – and their votes – suggest, the Greek people are actually overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the euro. They know how much membership of the single currency has benefited their country, and they don't want to lose it.
But they also know that the path they are on now – which, if it only involved Russian-style shock doctrine privatisation, would be getting off lightly – is unsustainable. They are losing healthcare, power, they have been paid negative salaries, and the word coming from Germany is that this will get worse, not better. Well, they're mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore.
That said, the latest news out of Greece indicates that preferences may be swinging back to the devil they know. Joe Weisenthal reports a Nomura briefing which says:
Opinion polls are looking more constructive from a market perspective.
Which is a very euphemistic way of saying the pro-austerity New Democracy party may win the election.