The jobless rate in Greece has risen yet again to 26% in the fourth quarter of 2012 up from 24.8% recorded in the third quarter of 2012 as economic activity across the struggling nation slumped.
The hike in the number of people unemployed marked the highest quarterly unemployment rate since records began in 1998. During the last quarter of 2011 the jobless rate stood at 20.7%. Since the beginning of the start of the Euro crisis in 2008 around a million Greeks have lost their jobs as the government introduced harsh austerity measures in order to appease the demands of the troika of international lenders. The unemployment crisis is now so bad in the country that just 3.7 million people out the total population of 11 million are in work.
In a bid to tackle the crisis which now seems to have returned in force European leaders are gathering in Brussels for a two day summit in an effort to loosen some of the economic shackles that have strangled any growth prospects in nations like Greece, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere in southern Europe.
“Substantial progress is being made toward structurally balanced budgets and that progress must continue,” reads an EU statement. The focus is on “growth- friendly fiscal consolidation.”
The shift in language is designed to reassure investors and to avoid disturbing he relative calm that the region has been enjoying on the markets. All that however is likely to change if the bloc continues to post terrible data. Wednesday saw production fall right across the Eurozone with France showing a steady decline in its economy, even Germany was unable to post positive figures.
The European Commission, which is the enforcer of budget rules, has been disputing claims from the struggling southern European nations that it has been too strict and parried warnings from the north that it has become too lax.
“The simple allegation that the commission pursues austerity inflexibly does not hold,” Marco Buti and Nicolas Carnot of the commission’s economics department said in a policy paper Wednesday. “Nor obviously does the opposite accusation that the framework is being weakened.”
Greece, Portugal and Spain were granted extra deficit- reduction time last year. More extensions may come “in the near future,” the two officials wrote. Portugal is set for another respite, the commission’s president, Jose Barroso said last week.
The easing of austerity will be welcomed by some economists who believe that the measures have gone too far too quickly and have been the direct cause of making the crisis far worse than it should have been.
The bailout of Cyprus is not expected to be discussed at the summit after it was revealed that the matter would be discussed by a separate meeting of the regions finance ministers on Friday.
Current Euro exchange rates
As of 11:00 am
The Euro to Pound Sterling exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 0.8653
The Euro to US Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.2934
The Euro to Australian Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.2495
The Euro to New Zealand Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.5806