Greece’s banks remained closed on Monday for the sixth straight working day, heightening anxieties over the nation’s cash withdrawal and transfer limit of €60 ($67) per day per account.
What if those same capital controls were imposed in America? As shown in the chart above, our budgets would need a significant downsizing — by over 50%.
It’s true that credit or debit card transactions — for some, the primary mode of payment — aren’t affected by the rules. But many day-to-day Greek businesses and services, like restaurants, have begun demanding cash payments. Other Greeks have found even their credit cards are being rejected with confusion surrounding the capital controls. As a result, for many account holders, it’s truly a $67 per day limit: $67 for food, housing, healthcare and transportation, often to support a family of several people (We should note that some Greek public transportation has been free during the capital control period).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent report on U.S. consumer expenditures, American households spent an average of $140 per day in 2013. Indeed some of these costs could be eliminated more easily, like leisure ($6.80) and cash contributions ($5.02). But Americans’ three highest daily costs — housing ($49.98 per day), transport ($24.67) and food ($18.09) — aren’t just harder to cut down on, but also far above the $67 limit already.
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