Video: Obama heads to G20 amid Greek turmoil
Transcript of: Obama heads to G20 amid Greek turmoil
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: President Obama tonight is off to a meeting of world leaders in France . One topic that will definitely be up for discussion and urgently, the meltdown of the economy in Greece . NBC 's Stephanie Gosk tonight explains why Americans need to be paying close attention over here to this time bomb ticking over there.
STEPHANIE GOSK reporting: The world's economic heavy hitters, the G-20 , are converging on Cannes for their annual meeting. Topping the agenda, Greece , which has once again thrown the global economy into turmoil and raised feared of another financial crisis.
Ms. DIANE SWONK (Mesirow Financial Chief Economist): Greece has the potential to, if it defaults, to be an event like Lehman was back in 2008 .
Chancellor ANGELA MERKEL:
GOSK: Just last week, European leaders thought they had a deal to save Greece from bankruptcy, a $178 billion bailout tied to strict austerity measures. But now, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou says he will put the deal up for a nationwide vote, a referendum. A recent poll shows the deal is opposed by a majority of Greeks, who have taken to the streets, angry about cutbacks to pensions and government spending. All this has world markets on a roller coaster, way up on news of a deal last week, way down on Papandreou 's announcement, which also blindsided European leaders, including Germany 's Angela Merkel .
GOSK: "Last week we agreed on a program with Greece and the EU ," she said. "We want to implement that program." Simply put, Greece is practically broke. Years of reckless spending have led to massive debt and the very real threat of default. But it's not just their problem. Greece is one of 17 nations sharing the same currency, the euro. Instability there creates instability here, hurting US businesses, costing jobs and draining Americans' retirement accounts.
Ms. SWONK: The fear is that we actually have a run on banks in Europe that spreads to the United States .
GOSK: We aren't there yet, Brian , but that is the fear. And the instability, both economic and political in Greece , is growing. Prime Minister Papandreou only has a slim majority in Parliament , faces a no confidence vote on Friday.
WILLIAMS: Stephanie Gosk on this latest crisis, and of course, this may have days to go. Stephanie , thanks.