NEWS

Insecurity, anxiety and a much higher cost of living this year

As the years go by, Greeks are really having to tighten their belts. The goal of joining the Economic and Monetary Union that led to such optimism in previous years has waned. The euro entered our lives, raising the prices of basic consumer goods by means of the now familiar «rounding upward,» and the golden days of the stock market boom are long gone. Any momentum the economy might gain as a result of the 2004 Olympics does not seem to be able to improve Greeks’ hopes for their personal budgets. One out of every two Greeks believes that after this year and last, their financial situation can only get worse, according to an annual nationwide survey by the polling firm ICAP on household finances in 2002 and citizens’ expectations for this year. The prices of basic consumer goods, such as food and clothing, have risen to the detriment of holidays and other outlays on recreation. The only encouraging note is the prospect of finding new sources of income. These prospects, probably linked to the fact that 2003 is the year before an election, were the main factors for optimism for 34.2 percent of the households with faith in the future. Yet more and more Greeks are either living on their savings or resorting to loans. Just over 27 percent of households said they were unable to balance their budgets in 2002, a considerable increase over the previous year’s percentage of 20.6 percent. There was also a reduction in the number of households who said they managed to balance their budgets.