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There are haircuts and then there are haircuts, Greeks say

posted 9 Mar 2012, 09:34 by Mpelembe   [ updated 9 Mar 2012, 09:35 ]

Greeks hope a haircut for the state will be just as good as it is at the barber's shop.

ATHENS, GREECE (MARCH 9 2012) (REUTERS) - Greece got a haircut on Friday (March 9) - and so did many Greeks. So it was inevitable that in an Athens barber shop haircuts were the centre of discussion - and puns.

"A haircut by Miss Lia is pleasant, but a haircut by Miss Merkel, is very unpleasant", said Stathis Panagoulis, a retired politician himself, while he was getting his haircut in Miss Lia Gasparinatou's barber shop, referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The haircut - a write down of 105 billion euros of Greece's debt mountain in debt swap agreement with private bondholders, was completed successfully on Friday with more than 85 percent of creditors participating, a key element in the 130-billion-euro ($173-billion) rescue package it needs to avoid a disorderly default on its public debt

"The more you cut your hair the stronger it gets, so lets hope with the haircut of the bonds there will be growth," said Gasparinatou.

The debt swap agreement was necessary for the European Union and International Monetary Fund to sign off on a second bailout loan for Greece in the tune of 130 billion euros.

The rescue loan was approved in return for an austerity package by the Greek government, which has reduced wages, pensions, cut jobs, and increased taxes, driving the country further into recession as people stopped spending.

"I cut it short now because I don't know when I will be able to come and get a haircut again, so it has to last," said Constantinos Arnakos, a salesman.