Greeks smashing windows and setting fire to shops and banks in a fury of opposition to yet more austerity is gripping. But it is hardly unique. A few years ago there were similar scenes for weeks after police shot a 15-year old schoolboy. And back when I lived there, U.S. President Bill Clinton was treated to a similar welcome — mainly because of his military assault on Serbia (a fellow Christian Orthodox nation) during the Kosovo conflict.
There are doubtless degrees. The latest level of destruction was the worst since widespread riots in 2008 — and austerity being imposed on Greeks is very painful. But it is worth noting that there are two underlying elements than make such uprisings more common in Greece than elsewhere.
The European Central Bank is off and running with its tightening cycle — raising by 25 basis points last week and talking in tongues enough to persuade markets that another hike is coming by July. At the same time, the Fed — despite some hawkish comments recently about QE — isn’t seen actually tightening for some time. Next year, actually.
Bank of America-Merrill Lynch is now wondering whether there is something wrong with this. ” Surely one of these central banks is heading to a painful policy mistake? ” it says.