Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What's A Greek Urn?

We've come to take your jobs

IIRC a Greek used to earn about thirty bob. And as recently as the late eighties, he earned only about half what we earned*.

But these days, Greeks get a lot more than that. In fact, the latest OECD stats* put their GDP per capita at $31,600 pa, only an 8% smidge behind our $34,400 pa. Greeks have benefited massively from being in the EU.

So where does that leave their labour force in the face of new EU members? Are their bars and restaurants now staffed by a load of cheap Poles and Hungarians, like ours? Are their low earners as hacked off as ours? In the land of the Colonels, is the far right breaking through once more?

In a spirit of urgent enquiry, Mrs T and I are off to Crete tomorrow. Fearlessly immersing ourselves on the frontline, poolside, we'll be checking out the workforce in detail. It's a hotel we know quite well and it always used to be fully staffed by Greeks. But we haven't been for five years, and we suspect it's changed. We''ll see.

So depending on what EU funded telecoms infrastructure is available, BOM posts may be taking a week's break. With Gordo's Pound now collapsed against the Euro, pay-per-minute internet cafes are certainly out of the question. Although we are packing our carrier pigeons.

Meanwhile, for anyone needing a number fix and excellent commentary on matters economic may we strongly recommend Bitter Renter from London Alice Cook's blog, UK Bubble. She has some great charts and we like her heartening strapline: "It will all come down. Not one stone shall stand upon another".

The way thing's are going, she's probably right.

*Footnote: The OECD stats refer to GDP converted at Purchasing Power Parities (PPP), which attempts to adjust for differences in domestic purchasing power rather than simply using market exchange rates.

PS Have you ever heard of Victory Day? Apparently it's on 9th May in Eastern Europe, and it celebrates the triumph of the Soviet Army over Germany. Fair enough, you say. But WTF is the OECD closed for a Victory Day's holiday? Come to that, WTF is it also closed for Pentecost? (see here) Who pays their wages?

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