A week ago we joked that Greece was rapidly sliding into the “fourth world” (and had the photos to prove it). Well, today Equity Index provider MSCI took our joke and made it into something way too serious when overnight it made Greece the first developed nation ever to be downgraded into “emerging market” status. Not quite fourth world, but that too will come. However, what’s worse for Greece is that as we reported yesterday, the majority of Greeks have no way of learning about this following the governmental “temporary” shutdown of its one national TV prodier, ERT. Kathimerini followed up with news that ERT would be renamed to NERIT, the New Hellenic Radio Internet and Television – a state company owned by the public sector and regulated by the state, and relaunched by the end of August, however what matters to the public is that the vast majority of employees would likely be let go permanently.
However, the biggest news out of Greece is that the events in the 24 hours have pushed the depressed country right back into crisis mode, with political bickering front and center (the opposition leader called the uncoordinated move “a coup” even as coalition partners blasted the broadcaster shutdown while Europe washed it hands), while the economic contraction is set to accelerate once more following what is certain to be another escalation in daily protests and riots. And who can blame them – with that last civilizational “premium” – free TV for all – gone, what else is there to do?
Greece’s fragile government faced an internal revolt and fierce public protest on Wednesday over the sudden closure of state broadcaster ERT, hours after the humiliation of seeing its bourse downgraded to emerging market status. The twin setbacks, coupled with the derailing of a troubled privatization program, blew a hole in rising investor confidence that had prompted Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to declare the risk of a “Grexit” from the euro was dead and a “Greekovery” was under way.