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Greek pain continues despite signs of hope

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 02:17

Feb. 18 - Bond yields are falling and its primary budget surplus has doubled. Sonia Legg asks if Greece is finally seeing the beginning of the end of its debt crisis.

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Greece's economy isn't exactly motoring but there is reason for cheer. Its bond yields are the lowest since debt restructuring was introduced and the government has achieved a primary budget surplus ahead of schedule. It's unlikely to impress these state school guards who staged a protest on motorbikes last week. But it has at least given hope to euro zone officials. EU Commissioner Olli Rehn says after a long delay troika inspectors will return to Athens this week to complete their bailout review. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) EU ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER OLLI REHN, SAYING: "It is in the interest of all partners but first and foremost in the interest of Greece to do what it takes to allow for a conclusion of review by taking these structural reforms forward to boost the economy's capacity to generate growth and employment." It's hoped the review will be completed in March - two months before Greece's next big bill needs paying. But with unemployment recently hitting record highs of 28% it's not the beginning of the end quite yet, says Alpari's Craig Erlam. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) CRAIG ERLAM, MARKET ANALYST, ALPARI, SAYING: "You have essentially lost a generation of young people going forward so I think we are in for a much longer period of pain for Greece. The rate of the decline is still very slow, especially compared to the rate it increased over the last few years so while it is a positive thing that we are seeing in Greece it is still a long road ahead and lot more pain to come." That's certainly the view of many Greeks - who've now endured six years of recession. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) CHARALAMBOS PANAGIOTOPOULOS, UNEMPLOYED, SAYING: "The politicians say that things will change, we want to believe it too, but how, when there is so much corruption? It's everywhere." (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) VASSILIS KAPRALOS, UNEMPLOYED, SAYING: "I am looking for a job, but the money they're offering at the job centre, isn't enough to even buy medicine." The government is trying to tackle the jobs crisis. It's setting up a new employment council and is spending one and half billion euros of European funds creating training programmes and new business ventures. That sounds like a decent amount of money - until you realise 1.38 million people in Greece are officially out of work.

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Greek pain continues despite signs of hope

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 02:17