Greek debt crisis: Panic buying as Greeks fear losing savings

Marousi:  Business has been so brisk in the giant Kotsovolos appliance and electronics store in this upper-middle-class suburb of Athens that you might think a sale was on. But, no. It is panic buying, those who work here say.

Increasingly concerned that greater economic trouble lies ahead of them, and limited in how much cash they can take out of banks, Greeks have been using their debit cards to buy ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers – anything tangible that can hold its value in troubled times.

“We have sold so much,” said Despina Drisi, who has worked in the store 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.”

To the casual observer, the bustle of everyday life looks unchanged here. Greeks, many of whom long ago traded in their cars for cheaper motor scooters, clog the streets at rush hour on their way to and from work. Tourists pack the Acropolis. Friends meet, greet and sit in cafes, looking for shady spots against the heat.

But beneath the surface, Greeks are struggling with growing fear, the strange ramifications of closed banks and the mounting potential for much worse.

Some are watching television and checking their smartphones constantly. Others refuse to follow what is going on with discussions on debt relief. But either way, many are doing what they can to protect themselves financially, buying appliances and jewellery or even prepaying their taxes so they will have taken care of one financial obligation if they end up losing some of their savings to a bank failure, as happened to depositors in Cyprus under a bank rescue plan there in 2013.

“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.”

Full article: Greek debt crisis: Panic buying as Greeks fear losing savings (Sydney Morning Herald)

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