The average Greek saver doesn't have enough money left on their account to buy a packet of cigarettes. This is not a joke: it is the result of an in-depth survey conducted by a the authoritative Athenian weekly Proto Thema. According to official data supplied by the country's banks, the paper says, the average amount deposited on a bank account is 1,700 euros. But, as usual, the mean figure is a bit like that story about the chickens: statistically one hundred people can eat one hundred chickens, but some people eat two and some people none. So it comes that, if we rule out those accounts that cannot be touched for a number of years in order to accrue a higher rate of interest, which normally contain between 20,000 and 40,000 euros, the bank accounts of the vast majority of Greeks contain around a hundred or so euros. And sometimes not even that. This is the profile of Greece's savers, says the weekly, citing reputable banking sources. In other words, since June last year, in order to survive, Greeks have had to cut into their savings.
"There is practically nothing left on my account," says Alexis, 31, former shop assistant in a boutique in the luxurious Kolonaki district, as he busies himself at an ATM monitor in a central square in Athens. "I come here every day to see if they have closed the account and to remind myself how a cashpoint works. But I don't make any withdrawals: I haven't got a penny left ". "The situation isn't as bad here as it is in Athens and in Greece's larger cities," says Andreas Vrachas, 75, retired trader and resident of Ioannina, in northern Greece. He has come to Athens to visit family. "My wife and I have heard that a lot of people have been drawing out their money for some days now, worried that Greece will leave the euro and Europe. My wife is frightened too, and she said to me: 'Andreas, let's take our money out of the bank as well'. But I don't think I'll do it: I'm too worried that thieves will get into my house to steal my money. Between the government and the thieves, I would rather the government got it."