ENOIKIAZETAI - FOR RENT
As the economic crisis in Greece bites ever deeper more and more of these signs are appearing in shop windows across Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city. In some neighbourhoods closed down shops now outnumber those still in business.
Rapidly rising unemployment (up 50% in just one year), shrinking incomes and worry about what the future holds means that Greek families are now cutting back on spending in every category including basics such as groceries, a fact that many of my Greek friend swore blind would never happen no matter how bad things got.
With consumer confidence rock bottom and Greece's GDP set to drop 3.5% this year no wonder 86% of businesses are reporting cash flow problems. The Greek Chamber of Commerce is predicting the closure of 100,000 small enterprises before the year is out with the loss of yet more jobs.
Some parents, especially those on lower incomes are even cutting back on the amount they spend on their children's education, a situation that was almost inconceivable a few years back. The conventional wisdom was that Greek parents would make any sacrifice in order to help their son or daughter get the qualifications needed to get on in life.
The problem is that not only do families have far less disposable income than ever before but also there has been the realisation that the degrees and certificates that have been gained with so much sweat, toil and financial outlay are virtually worthless in terms of getting a decent job. The country s full of university graduates who cannot get work of any kind, let alone jobs that utilise their expensively acquired education.
It is exactly this generation that rose up in December 2008 and were at the forefront of the most violent and extensive civil disorder Greece has seen in a generation. However, the economic conditions then seem positively idyllic compared with the prospects now with one in three of 15-24 year olds jobless. No society, especially one as volatile as Greece can stand such levels of anger and hopelessness amongst its young for long.
Last time it was the killing of a 15 year old teens which caused a month long series of riots and confrontations in virtually every urban area nationwide and led to billions of euros worth of damage. One has to wonder how long it will be before another incident sets off the Greece's disaffected youth.