For years, the idea of Greece dumping the euro as it tried to shock its flat-lining economy back to life has been cast as an unthinkable doomsday scenario. But Sunday's lopsided vote by Greeks to reject the terms of a European bailout raises the odds that the cash-strapped country could leave the currency bloc and bring back the drachma.
Would the sun still rise over Athens?
"There is no manual for this," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for Capital Economics, when asked to break down the steps necessary for Athens to abandon the euro. "So you start with offering one drachma for one euro, and what you do is allow that new currency to float against the euro and that new drachma will be worth a lot less than the euro."
Ashworth estimates Greeks would see at least a 30 percent drop in the value of their new currency -- overnight. "There will be a bout of inflation, and suddenly you can afford a lot less. It would cause big hardships," he said.
The cost of imports in Greece for essentials like gasoline would soar, but the weak drachma would make Greek exports like olive oil and feta cheese more affordable for consumers around the world.
"Greek workers would cost 30 percent less, but it would at least allow the economy to get back on track," Ashworth added, that Greek consumers would substitute cheaper, domestically manufactured products for pricier imports.
Richard Wolff, visiting professor with the Graduate Program for International Affairs at the New School University, agrees that exiting the euro would hurt. "It will be painful. All imports will cost a lot more money and the standard of living will fall," he said.
By contrast, in other ways Greece could become more economically attractive and self-reliant. "Greek vacations will trump vacations anywhere as far as cost," Wolff he predicted. "Greek flowers will be for sale throughout Europe's markets."
One the Greek government's greatest challenges in switching to the drachma would be how it handles the nation's more than 2.5 million pensioners.
"They have painted themselves into a corner on this by committing to protect their pensioners," Wolff said. "They have to come up with their plan to make pensioners whole through this process. [The] bottom line is this transition to a devalued currency will mean they will have to tap the rich and the corporations."
If Greece's future either in or outside the eurozone is uncertain, its present is all too clear.
"Right now things are very upsetting and depressing," said Michael Hadjiloucas, CEO of the New Jersey-based Greek American Chamber of Commerce. "People are unable to pay for their medicine. Greeks around the world who are traveling on their honeymoon or on business outside the country are stranded" because they can't access their bank accounts.
Greece imposed limits on cash withdrawals and overseas money transfers last week after it defaulted on a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) payment to the International Monetary Fund.
Hadjiloucas said the Greek government must do whatever is required, including dumping the euro in favor of the drachma, to establish a business-friendly climate and reignite the economy.
"We have to have a comprehensive plan to attract people to build businesses," he said. "If all the young people keep leaving because there is no work who will be there in 20 years?"