Europe

Greeks Save Money By … Spending?

An increased interest in spending among Greek nationals indicates not the confidence a sudden spending boom normally denotes, but instead deep-seated worry about what comes next as the nation contemplates the possibility that they might be done with the Eurozone.

“We have sold so much,” Despina Drisi told The New York Times. Drisi has worked at Kotsovolos appliance and electronics for 12 years. “We even sold display models. People have been pulling at my sleeves. We’re spacing things out now to cover the holes on the shelves.”

Since Greeks can’t withdraw their Euros from banks, they are spending them off their debit cards to snap up any tangible value holder.

“Panicked doesn’t begin to describe how people feel,” said Antonis Mouzakis, an Athens accountant. “I have a huge number of customers wanting to file their taxes right here, right now, to have the tax calculated and paid instantly before a possible haircut. Even if the tax is 40 to 50 thousand euros, they pay it off in one go.”

Another tale by NYT, a Greek jeweler was approached with a million plus dollar offer — he refused. George Papalexis, the jeweler in question, decided he would rather have the jewels than money in a Greek bank.

“I can’t believe that there I was, turning away a million-dollar offer,” he said. “But I had to turn down the deal. It’s a measure of the risk we face.”

Consumers are hedging as well — moving money digitally and spreading it across friend and family accounts hoping to keep balances low in case of a forced “buy in” that sees depositor funds grabbed.

“I’m even thinking about buying a car, although I don’t need one, to get my cash balance lower,” one man told NYT. “People want their money in physical assets, not in the bank.”

However, many on the ground think the spending binge is perhaps an overreaction and a poor solution. The story recounted the exploits of a man with €10,000 in his bank account who, for fear of a 20 percent seizure of his bank funds, spent €2,000 on clothes.

 

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