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Anti-austerity general strike hits Greece, as French banks threatened with downgrade

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Reuters

Demonstrators are camped out in front of the Greek parliament and workers are on general strike as MPs debate a new austerity package. Credit ratings agency Moody’s is threatening to downgrade three French banks because of their exposure to Greek debt.


Protesters, calling themselves “The Indignants” after recent Spanish protests, joined a three-week-old camp on parliament square ahead of trade union demonstrations to

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

protest at the government’s plan to further cut spending and raise taxes.

“There has already been one very tough austerity plan last year and for the Greek people it is the straw that has broken the camel’s back,” writes RFI correspondent Amélie Poinssot One member of the ruling Socialist Party, Pasok, resigned on Tuesday evening, leaving the government with a slender majority, she reports.

The strike has closed offices and public transport on land and sea.

Eurozone members on Tuesday failed to agree a second bailout package to avert a default on Greece’s debts.

Ratings agency Moody’s warned that it may downgrade French banks, Crédit Agricole, BNP Paribas and Société Générale because of their exposure to Greek public and private debt.

“The magnitude and composition of these exposures differ substantially across these banking groups,” a statement said.

Crédit Agricole and Société Générale both have subsidiaries in Greece and they have already been downgraded. BNP does not have a subsidiary and its exposure is “more modest”, according to Moody’s. It held five billion euros of Greek government debt on 31 December 2010.