Greeks pulled their cash out of the banks and stocked up with food ahead of a cliffhanger election on Sunday that many citizens fear will result in the country being forced out of the euro.
Bankers said up to 800 million euros ($1 billion) were leaving major banks daily and retailers said some of the money was being used to buy pasta and canned goods in case of shortages, as fears of returning to the drachma were fanned by rumors that a radical leftist leader may win the election.
The last published opinion polls showed the conservative New Democracy party, which backs the 130-billion-euro ($160 billion) bailout that is keeping Greece afloat, running neck-and-neck with the leftist SYRIZA party, which wants to cancel the rescue deal.
SYRIZA says if they win, they're nullifying the bailout, which means an almost certain forced exit from the Euro, a series of bank holidays, and the return to the drachma at a massive loss...to anyone keeping cash in the bank, that is. The smart people are getting their euros out now, which is causing something of a self-fufilling meltdown.
And at a billion a day and rising, things are getting downright scary in Europe now. Here's a hint: Greek banks don't have a lot of actual physical cash on hand (like any fractional reserve banking system), so those who wait, lose.
This is getting ugly and fast, folks.