The similarities between Greece and pre-WWII Germany are striking.
- Nazi salutes.
- Praise for Adolf Hitler.
- Swastika-like banners.
Now, before you write off this warning as a run-of-the-mill, Nazi-name-dropping scare tactic, consider this recent report from the Socionomics Institute, a U.S.-based think tank that studies global trends in social mood. Here's an excerpt from the Institute's February publication of The Socionomist.
A rising political party known as Golden Dawn is resurrecting such practices, all hallmarks of Hitler's Third Reich, in modern-day Greece, which has suffered a dramatic, five-year stock market decline.
From 1927 to 1932, Germany suffered a disastrous stock market decline, falling 73% over five years. Six million people were unemployed, and the government was weak. Germany suffered outside financial pressure in the form of reparations required by the Versailles Treaty and consequences of its involvement in World War I.
Adolf Hitler argued that the German government betrayed its people by signing the Versailles Treaty. He promised that if he were elected, the nation would stop paying the reparations. The position appealed to the German people's anger and helped the Nazi leader become chancellor in January 1933.
Modern-day Greece has experienced an even larger five-year decline than 1920s-1930s Germany did, falling 88% since 2007, and the country has suffered a debt crisis. As a condition for bailouts aimed at helping Greece recover, the European Union has imposed tough austerity measures. The Greek government has implemented the measures. Meanwhile, the deepening negative social mood has fueled protests against them.
Nikos Zydakis, editor of the daily newspaper Kathimerini, says Greece is in an economic depression like that experienced by Germany in the 1930s. More than 90% of Greek households have experienced income reductions, with the average drop 38%. Unemployment in Greece now stands at a record 26.8% and is nearly 60% among Greece's young adults. In November the Greek Parliament imposed tax hikes and spending cuts demanded by creditors. Supermarket sales in the country declined by 500 million euros ($669 million) last year, and people are burning wood because the price of electricity has risen and taxes on heating oil have increased.
"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme," goes an old saying attributed to American author Mark Twain. And new research from the Socionomics Institute sees a disturbing pattern of rhymes between modern-day Greece and pre-WWII Germany.
To be sure, market and political developments in Greece will have a significant impact on the future of Europe, the Americas and beyond.
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