Living on savings

Half of all Greeks polled expect their finances to deteriorate this year. The ICAP survey of 600 households in urban areas between May 28 and June 30 also showed that nearly a third believed their finances would remain at current levels; 6.2 percent were not sure. One in three households dipped into savings or resorted to loans in order to make ends meet. Pensioners, who suffered the most from last year’s price increases, were the most pessimistic, with two-thirds expecting more difficult times ahead. The most optimistic were families whose main breadwinner had a high income. The rising cost of living was the main reason given for shrinking spending power. Increases in some products and services affected large groups of people. Rises in food prices in particular were higher than in any other category. Fewer people than in previous years bought a home, car or made any other major purchase; only 14 percent in 2002, compared to 15.9 percent in 2001. The continuing crisis in the Athens Stock Exchange meant fewer people invested in shares or mutual funds. In 2001, only 0.6 percent of investors bought shares for the first time, and in 2002, only 0.3 percent.