In October last year, it became clear that something was not right in Greece. The recently elected socialist government of George Papandreou said the budget deficit would be 12.7 per cent. A budget deficit is when a government spends more than it earns. In December, the government said it would reduce the deficit to a little over 9 per cent this year. But in the meantime, more bad figures made it clear the Greek economy was in worse shape than other European country. Institutions to which it owed money - US$419 billion - began to doubt it could pay it back. The concern is that problems in Greece could mean problems for all 16 nations in the so-called eurozone - all the nations that have adopted the euro as their currency. And the problem is not only in Greece - other eurozone nations with crippling debts are Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain. Lumped together, newspapers are already calling them the 'PIGS'. The main problem, most experts agree, is that Greece has been living beyond its means for a long time. About a third of all Greeks are employed by the government. They have generous holidays, and pension packages when they retire. The good life makes Greece one of Europe's most popular holiday destinations. Unfortunately, it is a lifestyle it seems they will have to abandon. When European leaders met recently to discuss the problem, they did not offer a rescue package but told the Greeks it was time to tighten their belts. Unions reacted to the threat to salaries and pensions by going on strike. Customs officials were the first to walk out. By last weekend there were fuel shortages, with long lines of cars waiting to fill up. Other unions followed them, with hundreds of thousands of workers going on a general strike yesterday. A general strike brings a country to a standstill - no public offices are open. Of course, it's understandable that workers are angry about pay cuts and possibly having their pensions slashed. But the real issue is that their country might be bankrupt. At least one prominent economist has said this is the case. 'Greece is bankrupt,' said Nouriel Roubini, a professor of economics at the Stern School of Business, New York University. Roubini has made himself one of the most influential economists in the world by predicting the current financial crisis as early as 2005. At the time, he was labelled a 'doom-monger'. Now he is called a 'prophet'. The Greek government is planning a massive bond issue of US$35 billion. Government bonds basically put a country's debt on sale. Other countries buy the debt, believing their money will be paid back on time, with interest. The United States is running a huge deficit, too, but is able to sell it because most people are confident it can pay it back. To imagine it cannot, or will not, would be to imagine the collapse of the entire international financial system.