Sunday, September 11, 2011

Prime Minister Papandreou in Thessaloniki

The Prime Minister is a skillful operator. He says “Greece will do all it has to do” (incidentally, Greece hasn’t nearly done all it promised to do for nearly 3 years now!). Using that kind of language and coming across as such an agreeable gentleman, he is making it virtually impossible for the EU to become antagonistic against him (and Greece). He is basically delegating the responsibility for taking actions to the EU.

While that may be smart political maneuvering in the short-term, whether it is in the long-term interest of Greece is another question!

The long-term vision for Greece cannot be that she is happy to play the role of an underdeveloped region in Euroland which depends on charities of other countries. Anyone who has the opportunity to leave such a region will do so.

The long-term vision for Greece must be based on pride (of which Greeks have much) combined with rational thinking (of which Greeks have little) and consequential action (which Greeks should be capable of). If a slogan were required, it would have to be: “We will show you that we can stand on our own!”

Suppose the majority of Greeks were ready to show the rest of the world that they are ready to “stand on their own”. What should they do? Presently, they could do nothing because the government is not showing them a path, a visionary project to which all of them could contribute with enthusiasm. 

There are thousands of university graduates who have either no employment at all or work part-time in discotheques, supermarkets, etc. Could they not be given opportunities to use their talents and work for the benefit of society so that they can develop a feeling of self-worth? Be sure: definitely not new public sector employees! Instead, more or less voluntary work where the responsibilities are outlined for them and where they can show their enthusiasm.

All those other young people who are not having any meaningful employment. Is it smart that they would sit all day long in cafenions sipping one cup of coffee for which their parents gave them the money? Is there really no way to involve them in projects which are of benefit to society and which would give them the feeling that they are worth something to society?

Is it really smart for the country to say – figuratively speaking – to other countries “we won’t compete with you with our own production; we will buy everything we need from you as long as you give us the money to do so”?

Anyone who knows Southern Germany and Austria also knows that this region is full of so-called middle-market production companies (“Mittelstand”) run by down-to-earth and common sense entrepreneurs (who typically have their entire personal net worth invested in their companies). These are people who know how to create jobs because they understand what customers want and how that can be produced in high quality and at a competitive price. They may employ 5 people; they may employ 500; but generally their employees are very happy to work for a family company owned by a serious family. It is them – and not the large corporations – who are the backbone of their respective economies. 

Why couldn’t Greece start building up such a “Mittelstand”? Because there are no serious entrepreneurs in Greece? Come on!!! There are as many serious Greeks as there are serious people in other countries! 

Because new production needs new investment; new investment needs money and there is no money? Come on!!! Greeks hold hundreds of billions EUR in foreign bank accounts! 

Because only a fool would presently invest his money in Greece today? There you have a point! This also means that the government has its job cut out for themselves. They have to create – via legislation – new “pockets” in the Greek economy where serious investors can invest their money with all the security and profit potential which a serious investor requires. 

No one will trust the government when they promise that they will assure such an economic framework? Probably. But that can be solved. Let the government pass a new Investment Law of constitutional rank and to make sure that they don’t violate the constitutional law in the future, tell the government that they should ask the EU to guarantee this Investment Law.

And then, dear Greeks with money in foreign bank accounts, bring your money back to Greece because you will find a profit potential which you would not find in other saturated European markets. Particularly if you start producing those products which Greece presently imports and which it won’t be able to afford to import much longer.

If you don’t know how to get started, invite a few dozen of such middle-market entrepreneurs to a Greek resort for a few days and give them the mandate to come up with proposals how to re-industrialize the Greek economy. You would be surprised by the quantity and quality of ideas which they would come up with!!!

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