Greeks hoard cash ahead of key Sunday vote
Bank officials in Greece say citizens are withdrawing record amounts of cash from their bank accounts, unnerved by instability and the country possibly voting to leave the eurozone on Sunday.
An official said Wednesday that outflows from banks picked up after the inconclusive May 6 election, but they have picked up again in the days ahead of the new vote this weekend.
The levels of outflow are not yet at a pace that would destabilize the country's battered banking sector, the official said, although much will hinge on the election's result.
Since the European debt crisis began in 2009, Greeks have withdrawn 72 billion euros (the equivalent of $90 billion US) from domestic banks, with total household and corporate deposits standing at 165.9 billion euros or $207.94 billion US in April, data from the Greek central bank shows.
Some of that money was spent, much was redeposited or invested abroad, while a portion has also been hidden away in homes, despite the risk of burglary or accident.
Reuters reported Wednesday that the equivalent of $1 billion a day is being withdrawn daily. Greece's population is a little over 11 million, so per capita, every citizen is taking out $90 in cash more than is being put in every day.
"The outflows are continuing but they have not increased, compared with what happened after the May 6 elections," a Greek banking official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There was an increase then, and since then the outflow is steady. We haven't seen an explosion in recent days."
The vote is expected to be a close race between the pro-bailout conservatives and a radical left party vowing to scrap Greece's commitments to rescue loan creditors.
Another government official said Wednesday that while depositors are steadily pulling money from his bank, there has been no great increase in recent days.