Personal Toll of the European Economy

If you look past the boardroom tables, you'll see a kitchen table. If you look past the bankers, you'll see a family counting up any money that's left. And if you follow the dots of the Euro crisis, you'll end up talking to regular people about what it is doing to them. We hear from people with their personal stories illustrating the toll the economic crisis in Europe is having on their lives.



Part One of The Current

Satire

It's Monday, October 3rd.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has had the word "Canada" dropped from his business card and the phrase "Lester B Pearson Building" removed from the street address on the card.

Currently, Minister Baird now appears to represent a country called Conservada.

This is The Current.

Personal Toll of the European Economy

As you've been hearing in the news, the stock markets elsewhere began the day in a tumble in reaction to an admission from the Greek government that it will not meet its deficit reduction target.

And Greek civil servants are promising a strike in protest of further cuts after a year of austerity. The government also said yesterday that it's slashing 30,000 more public service jobs. Salaries and pensions have been trimmed and taxes raised. But it apparently isn't enough.

The European Commission must still decide whether to approve new budget measures, otherwise Athens doesn't get the next installment of its bailout package. Without the bailout, there's only enough cash to pay pensions and wages for another few weeks.

Greek's wine-dark sea of debt would be troubling enough in isolation. But from Iceland to Italy, governments are struggling with new economic realities. This morning we featured stories of the personal toll from Greece and Ireland.... two of Europe's hard hit countries.

First we heard from Jennie, she is an unemployed teacher in Athens.

A real Greek tragedy is the surge in suicides. In the first five months of this year, 40 per cent more Greeks have taken their lives compared to the same time last year. A suicide help-line, run by a Greek NGO called Klimaka, reports that since the recession hit two years ago, counselors take as many as 100 calls a day. 75 percent of the callers mention economic difficulties. Aris Violatzis is a psychologist with Klimaka.

It's possible that more people may try to leave Greece, looking for prosperity elsewhere. That's certainly been the case in Ireland. The Celtic Tiger began to lose its growl in 2008. Its startling economic boom was followed by crushing austerity measures following a sovereign debt crisis that required a bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

Today, unemployment is near 15 percent. The middle class is clearing out. Luke Ashworth is a political science professor who emigrated to Canada in July with his family. He now lives and works in St. John's Newfoundland. 100-thousand more Irish are expected to leave home over the next year and a half. Currently, about 1,000 Irish leave their country every week.

Personal Toll of the European Economy - Nicolas Véron

For insight into the stories we just heard and, and to help us understand the economic struggles gripping Europe, we were joined by Nicolas Véron. He's a senior fellow at the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel and a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. Two weeks ago he testified before the US Senate Committee on Banking. We reached him in Washington.

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