Thursday, 11 April 2013

Words we get from Greek: 1 - economy

Oh dear! Possibly not the best choice with which to start this occasional series designed to show all manner of words the English language has gained from Greek.

Economy in Greek (οικονομία) is used in the same way as we use it in English, to describe the overall financial system and also as a word for frugality. No surprises though that it is the first use that is at the forefront of everyone's mind. Without wishing to sound too harsh the Greek economy is a train wreck.

Last December 26.4 per cent of the workforce was unemployed, up from 10.5 per cent in the same month in 2009, and youth unemployment now stands at 58 per cent. The infamous troika - the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank - has called for stringent austerity measures before it will approve bail-outs running to billions of Euros.

In the last 12 months, the minimum wage of €751 has been cut by 22 per cent (or 32 per cent for under 25s), and the government also cut the basic rate of unemployment benefits from €460 to €360 a month. Most of those receiving such benefits will only do so for a year after which.....?

So all in all not good, but there are said to be the tiniest signs of hope, although to be honest these are usually announced by politicians seeking to justify continued austerity. If people in Britain feel hard done by with a political class which seems to have little understanding of the realities facing "normal" people, then it would be fair to say that many Greeks have a burning sense of grievance at the behaviour of some of their politicians.

Sometimes I suspect that what happens in an economy is despite the activities of politicians, not because of them. I was talking to someone about the Greek economy the other day and he felt the world economy would gradually improve and then, to offer hope for Greece, he said: "And all boats float on a rising tide". The cynic in me wondered what might happen if the hull of the Greek economy still had a massive hole in it. Fingers crossed that it hasn't.

Money: It doesn't grow on trees, you know.
(Picture posed by models)

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