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February 15, 2012

Gloom Creeps Across Europe as Greece, Others Struggle

by Jeff Seldin

Even as officials struggle to keep Greece's economic woes from spreading to other nations, the battle over the latest bailout is taking a psychological toll.  In Greece, and across Europe, these economic worries are turning to gloom.

Another day, another protest in Greece, where anger is giving way to hopelessness.

"It is unfair, it is a mistake, to put an end to social support in Greece, because this will end up being applied to all the European Union," said George and 38-year-old civil engineer.

He says ending the social support system in Greece is unfair, a mistake.

Far from the protest, more anguish as Greeks lined up for free meat for Ash Thursday, an annual Orthodox Christian tradition.  And the desperation is spreading.  

"I don't know if there's going to be growth again," said Marco Sportelli, a construction worker in Italy.  "I think we should abandon Greece, because the more money we give them, the more they will ask and the more it will drag down other European countries. Then we will see what we can do for ourselves. For the moment it seems we are going in the right direction, then we will see what happens."

He adds that he does not know if the economy will ever grow again and worries Greece will drag down all of Europe.

The frustration is also evident in France, where politicians like Socialist Party presidential candidate Francois Hollande warns of more economic pain.

"The downward slide of this [financial] system, including in Europe, in the eurozone, where ratings agencies have become all-powerful and decide the fate of the sovereign debts of countries, provoking austerity measures that are more and more painful, and speculation continues to destroy the eurozone. Have you seen the situation in Greece?  They have been brought to their knees," said Hollande.

In Spain, where unemployment is among the highest in Europe, buildings like these in Ciudad Valduez stand empty.

A train that was supposed to take workers to Madrid rolls right through, leaving behind a ghost town amid the gloom.