Sunday, April 22, 2012

Here is a party to vote for!

Ronald Reagan proved that one doesn’t necessarily need a detailed party program to accomplish something. Sometimes it is better to have a few simple messages which everyone understands and which are repeated all the time. Below are the messages of a Greek party which I could vote for.

First, to get new jobs quickly we will “steal” them. We will steal them from other countries which presently sell to us products which we could produce ourselves in Greece. We will create an “obsession with import substitution” in the minds of the Greek people so that Greek consumers become literally ashamed when they buy products from abroad when such products are also produced in Greece.

Second, we will create an “obsession with exports” in the minds of the Greek people so that Greek producers become literally ashamed when they do not sell a good portion of their production to other countries, particularly agricultural products. And we will be “smart exporters”, that is we will make the products shelf-ready and market them directly to individual countries (instead of selling bulk to Italy).

Third, we will create an “obsession with tourism” in the minds of the Greek people. Our mindset will no longer be that tourists should be thankful for being able to visit Greece but, instead, we will let them know that we really want their visits (and their money).

Fourth, money will be required to accomplish the above, particularly for the investment in new productive facilities for import substitution and new exports. We will create an “obsession with foreign investment” in the minds of the Greek people. Whenever a foreigner invests money in Greece, we will consider this as a compliment to the attractiveness of our country as a place to do business.

Fifth, we will privatize state companies as much as we can but we will sell them only to investors with a sustainable business philosophy. Investors with a short-term financial focus we will consider as asset strippers and treat them accordingly. The primary motive for privatization will not be the one-time financial gain but, instead, the future technology transfer which we expect to receive in those companies.

Sixth, we will take full advantage of the resources of the EU Task Force to build a modern and prosperous Greece: a Greece characterized by economic opportunity and social equity, and served by an efficient administration with a strong public service ethos. Our goal is to move up to the world’s top-20 countries as regards the ease of doing business as well as the low level of corruption. This within only one generation.

Seventh, our guiding policy will be that anything which hinders the above or even makes it impossible will be reformed with great speed. We invite our critics to remind us forcefully should we deviate from this policy.

Finally, it will be a priority for us to raise the spirits of the Greek people again. We will set in motion a Greece-is-Changing movement and we will invite people from all walks of Greek life to participate in creating the vision of a new and more prosperous future perspective for Greece. We will use the most modern media technology available to reach all Greeks with our message on a regular basis.


  1. My suggested name for this new political party - Yet Another European Utopian Dream.

    I have read on this blog and elsewhere that Greece has, in the past, been a significant exporter of agricultural products. But I cannot find any _empirical_ evidence to support or refute that assertion.

    If anyone has any such evidence perhaps they could post it here or in a comment at eKathimerini. I have to wonder if it's yet another item of Greek mythology.

    The only Greek agricultural products I've seen regularly outside of Greece are Kalamata Olives, Olive Oil, and sheep milk cheese.

    Recently, in a Sydney supermarket (in a area where there is a large Greek community) I purchased some Greek fruit preserves and jam. They were more expensive and of inferior quality to similar products from Italy, France and Bulgaria - available from the same supermarket.


    1. This blog certainly never talked about the marvelous history of Greek agricultural exports. On the contrary, I have criticized the fact that Greece was now even importing agricultural products (and foodstuffs in general) in a major way. See these links:

      I am no expert at this but my understanding is that the enormous (and I really mean enormous!) EU-subsidies for agriculture in the last 30 years more or less achieved the opposite of the desired effect: Greek farmers now live more off the subsidies than off their products. And many of the subsidies were invested into recognized agricultural vehicles like Porsche Cayennes (so I read).

      I remember that, in Munich and Vienna, one would have to go to Greek stores to find Greek agricultural products and they were more expensive than all others because Greek quality was obviously so superior to all others.

      I recently wrote that my wife told me that Greek agricultural products in the nearby supermarket (Kalamaria) were higher than non-Greek agricultural products in Austrian supermarkets.

  2. I have to say this would be a great program for Greece but only after the crisis is over (or before the crisis started).The 1st and 2nd paragraphs,which look to me as the basis for everything else to work,treat Greece independently of the whole context and in no connection with the other economies of the eurozone.If Greece entered at this time,a price war against countries such as Italy,Spain,Portugal etc it would cause too much chaos for nothing.Competitiveness is always measured related to something else ie its not absolute.But in reality we cant treat these other economies as stable and unresponsive to changes in the Greek economy for example.

    Thats exactly the reason why austerity isnt working anywhere in the periphery right now.You cant deflate when everybody else is also trying to deflate.Simiarly you cant devalue your currency if everybody else does the same.Thats why a EU-wide solution is required..its not an individual problem.

    1. You are right: it probably would be risky if Greece pursued such a policy on its own. But, frankly, the same goes for Spain and Portugal as well. There can only be cross-border debt if there are current account deficits. If one wants to get cross-border debts under control, one has to resolve the issue of c/a imbalances. The flow of products and services must be balanced between North and South, whichever way one does that. The North can't have the cake and eat it at the same time.

      Everyone talks about Greece (and others) having to become "competitive" again. Sounds great in classroom discussions. This is like taking a talented but inexperienced Greek soccer player and sending him to Real Madrid. Once he gets used to the way of life there, you tell him that he has to improve his game or else he would be kicked out of the team.

      The Greek economy is not yet fit to live with all 4 EU freedoms. 2 of them (freedoms of flow of products and capital) must be curtailed for some time until Greece on its own can become fit.