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European leaders hold an emergency summit in Brussels on Monday in an effort to prevent Greece from defaulting on its debts. Greece owes the International Monetary Fund $1.8 billion by the end of this month, and it needs Europe's help to make the payment. But the Athens government is refusing to commit to an economic overhaul package that officials are demanding.

Greece has come close to default many times before — only to work out a last-minute compromise with its creditors. This time, though, it faces much longer odds.

"This is a real deadline, unlike the others because we really are at the end of the road," says Jacob Kierkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Greece desperately needs Europe's help to roll over some big debt payments coming due. But the Athens government has strenuously rejected Europe's demands for further tax increases and pension cuts.

Over the weekend, Athens made a last-ditch effort to resolve the dispute with what it called a mutually beneficial proposal to European officials. It provided no details. But relations between Greece's leftist government and its creditors are chilly at best right now. And neither side seems inclined or able to budge much.

"There is now a dire risk of markets bringing forward the day of reckoning for Greece, leaving little room for pushing off the end game any further," says economist Eswar Prasad of Cornell University.

The concern in the markets is the recent surge of withdrawals from Greek banks. Many Greek citizens are worried that without the European Central Bank's backing, Greek banks will no longer be liquid enough to keep operating. And the government might have to impose capital controls to prevent a run.

The Peterson Institute's Jacob Kierkegaard says that if no agreement is reached at Monday's summit in Brussels, Greece may even have to shut down its banks altogether.

"It is quite likely that the Greek banks will not open up Tuesday morning, or at least open up with some variations of restrictions on access to the bank deposits," Peterson says.

He adds people and businesses would no longer be able to access their funds, and that would lead to a sharp deterioration in Greece's already weakened economy.

The emergency summit in Brussels is an attempt to prevent that kind of disaster and pull Greece back from the brink — yet again.


On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "Monkey Business." Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase starting with "M" and "B" — as in "monkey business."

Last week's challenge: Think of an adjective that describes many shampoos. Add the brand name of a shampoo in its basic form. The result, reading the letters in order from left to right, will name a famous musician. Who is it?

Answer: Herb Alpert.

Winner: Mark Dressner of Long Beach, Calif.

Next week's challenge: This challenge comes from listener Ben Bass of Chicago. Take the phrase "I am a monarch." Re-arrange the 11 letters to name a world leader who was not a monarch but who ruled with similar authority. Who is it?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern.


Tens of thousands of anti-austerity demonstrators marched through the streets of London and other U.K. cities that they claim is the start of a broader program of protests and civil disobedience to force the Conservative government to reverse its program of deep spending cuts.

Protests march through Liverpool in opposition to austerity. #EndAusterityNow #EndAusteriy pic.twitter.com/2JNH1glwZX

— Scal Capone (@ScalCapone) June 20, 2015

Larry Miller, reporting from London for NPR, says that organizers have promised their campaign will continue "until austerity is history."

The Independent writes: "The march is intended to highlight how homelessness, inequality and child poverty have increased in the past five years. The New Policy Institute (NPI) estimates as much as 29 percent of children have fallen into poverty after housing costs."

This is the view from the stage right now - wow! #EndAusterityNow pic.twitter.com/6Uer6bh0qb

— Unite the union (@unitetheunion) June 20, 2015

The London march began in the financial district and ended at Parliament Square.

"We want a more equal society," said organizer Jack Hazeldine. "We know that austerity has really taken us in the wrong direction."

Larry reports that Prime Minister David Cameron's government is unlikely to be swayed by the protest after just winning reelection. Instead, the government plans to cut welfare and related benefits by $19 billion.

anti-austerity protests


A Greek minister is hinting that Athens will bring a new plan to the table at an emergency European Union summit next week to keep the country from defaulting on its sovereign debt and exiting the Eurozone.

"We will try to supplement our proposal so that we get closer to a solution," State Minister Alekos Flabouraris told Greek Mega television in a morning news show, according to Reuters. "We are not going there with the old proposal. Some work is being done to see where we can converge, so that we achieve a mutually beneficial solution."

The European Central Bank gave Greece more than $2 billion on Friday to prop up the country's banking system and to stave off a collapse as fearful Greeks withdrew more than $1 billion in a single day.

According to The Guardian: "If Greece does not receive a fresh bailout from its creditors by 30 June, it will be unable to meet the next repayment of €1.6bn ($1.8 billion) to the International Monetary Fund and could be turfed out of the single currency completely."

And, Reuters notes:

"It was not immediately clear how far Greece's leftist government, which won a January election vowing to lift its people out of austerity, is willing to bend in order to secure an agreement or what kind of additional offers it could make.

"While Greece has dug in its heels over demands for pension cuts and some tax rises, its leaders have continued to sound upbeat about the chances of reaching a deal — optimism that is not widely shared among Europe's leaders."

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel "has warned there must be a deal between Greece and its creditors ahead of Monday's summit. Otherwise, she said, the summit would not be able to make any decision," the BBC writes.

Greece financial crisis

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