Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Colombia's Santos hoping for end to FARC conflict 'this year'

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Fighting terrorism: Does Europe have a plan?

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Björk, Charlie Winston and Ray Lema

Read more

FOCUS

Eastern Ukraine dragged deeper into war

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

What would a Syriza victory mean for Greece?

Read more

FOCUS

Set, the new pro-Putin youth movement

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO of Schneider Electric: 'France is on a better track'

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Riots over cartoons of Prophet Mohammed are 'childish'

Read more

ENCORE!

Literary giant Russell Banks on freedom of speech

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2012-05-04

Greece's makeshift economy

With wages slashed, companies going bankrupt and mass unemployment, Greece has borne the full brunt of the economic crisis. Like Yannis, everyone has to find a way to feed their family. Throughout the country, hustles, scams and under-the counter payments are fuelling a black economy in which anything goes.

Greece’s biggest problem today is money. It’s all the government talks about, and for Greek people, it is not any no different.

How does one cope with little or no cash? We travelled to meet everyday Greeks struggling to get by.

Yannis is a retired restaurant owner. At 70 years old, instead of living off his pension and enjoying his final years, he’s had to keep working after his pension was slashed.

His days are spent standing in Korai Square, just a few blocks from the Greek Parliament, selling lottery tickets.

At 2 euros a ticket, Yannis needs to sell at least 10 tickets before he can go home. In an average month, he can make between 500 and 700 euros, and up to 900 at Christmas time.

It’s humiliating and tiring, but Yannis has no choice. His monthly retirement fund was cut by 180 euros, and in the next few months, he will lose even more.

Other Greeks choose to sell their belongings to raise some extra cash. Makis needs money to move to Australia in order to join his wife and children who immigrated there last year.

So Makis decided to sell his gold and silverware to a pawn broker.

Stores buying precious metals have sprung up throughout the country. They have always existed, but now authorities estimate there are around 2,500 across Greece – and more than half of them don’t have a licence.

Pawnshops will buy your gold – but watch out for how much they offer. We decided to visit a few shops with a hidden camera, since no one would agree to speak to us.

The first shop owner we spoke to was aggressive when we asked to interview him, and the chances are he’s profiting from the crisis. That would explain why he moved back to his native Greece from London, where he was a metals trader. Now, he has several pawnshops – the newest of which just opened up weeks ago, right next to Makis’ house.

In the port city of Volos, north of Athens, a group of people have decided to forgo using the euro altogether – as far as that is humanly possible. Certainly, to pay taxes and bills, only the euro will do. But with the Local Alternative Unit, or TEM in Greek - an alternate, virtual currency - people are evading the euro. The idea is already two years old, and it’s catching on fast. New members sign up every day.

In the end, there are those who find ways to get by – and those who don’t. Dimitris Christoulas killed himself on April 4th, just metres away from the Greek parliament.

His suicide has become a symbol for people suffering from the country’s severe austerity measures. But he is not the first to have taken that fatal decision, nor will he be the last.

By Patrick Hermansen , Shona BHATTACHARYYA

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2015-01-16 Charlie Hebdo

Paris attacks: Who were the terrorists?

For three days, they spread fear and horror across France, killing 17 people before being shot dead by police. Their rampage began with an attack on satirical weekly Charlie...

Read more

2015-01-09 Iran

Young Iranians living on the edge

In Iran, penalties for drinking, dancing or partying can be severe: heavy fines, imprisonment, even death by hanging. Two out of three Iranians are under 30 years old. Now,...

Read more

2015-01-02 Ukraine

Donetsk, the price of separation

The war in eastern Ukraine is far from over, but with the arrival of winter, it's no longer only the guns and shellfire that worry the inhabitants of the self-proclaimed Republic...

Read more

2014-12-26 Syria

France 24’s best documentaries of 2014

This year, France 24 brought you major reports from around the world. Don't miss our highlights from 2014: from the partition of Ukraine to the battle against Ebola in Liberia,...

Read more

2014-12-19 Argentina

Argentina: The Kirchner era

The woman dubbed by some the new Eva Perón is a divisive figure. Cristina Kirchner succeeded her husband, Nestor, as president of Argentina back in 2007. A year ahead of...

Read more