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Greek savers rushing to buy gold

Worthless paper:

Greek citizens are emptying savings accounts and buying gold as they brace themselves for the possibility of a sovereign default and a run on the banks.

Pledges by socialist prime minister George Papandreou that his government would “save the country” have been widely discounted by the public. However, parliament gave him a vote of confidence late on Tuesday night. The socialists have a six-seat majority in the 300-member house.

Sales of gold coins have soared as savers seek a safer and fungible source of value.

“When the global financial crisis started, our sales of coins to investors overtook bullion for the first time,” said Harry Krinakis, at Sepheriades, a Greek precious metals trader. “Now the sales ratio has reached five to one.”

Tomas, a computer technician, has exchanged his euro savings for gold coins: “I keep them at home just like my grandmother did in the second world war.”

Andreas, a supermarket manager, transferred the family savings to Munich earlier this year: “The Swiss banks aren’t interested unless you’ve got several hundred thousand euros.”

“We can’t trust the politicians to get us out of this mess [and] have to protect our families,” Sakis, a garage owner, said at an anti-austerity protest in Athens’ Syntagma square. “A bank collapse has got to be on the cards.” He added he had withdrawn his savings and placed them in a bank safe deposit box “for security. Who cares about interest right now?”

Somehow the Greeks are not so thrilled with their government’s insistence that everything will be peachy.

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