Sunday, November 16, 2014

Who Says Things Have Not Improved in Greece???

One of my recent pieces on reforms in Greece triggered a lively debate about the question whether, despite all the talk, there have been reforms in the first place. Whether anything at all has improved since 2010. I quote below a commentary which an anonymous reader of my blog had posted. I think it is a very remarkable listing of hard facts (and some great soft facts, too!). Something which I have not seen elsewhere. 

"Public sector lay offs (or, as requested, public sector cost reduction): How they did it was their (the government's) choice. Layoffs may not have been many, but there were layoffs, be they directly or indirectly. What did you expect to hear? Government laying off 50,000 workers in one day? Not going to happen. In any country. Public sector was reduced by wage cutting and drastically reducing benefits. Not health but the unbelievable benifits we both know about. Such a 75% off for this and that public service. Also retirement. Yes many had to be retired, outdated dinosaurs who do not know what a computer looks like. I like seeing so many young and eager faces in the public sector don't you? See anyone smoking in public buildings? No!

I am aware of many services which have improved in performance and their budgets have been cut, quality of their services improved and the time to action. Police, Fire department, KEP, Ministry of Taxes (of course they are taxing the hell out of us but at least they have been modernized). I can do everything online without having to be on line for 5 hours and interigated at the end. Department of transpotation has improved its services. IKA or health system is still behind but they always were. At least they reduced the cost of drugs plus allowed quality generics drugs into the system. This has in parallel contributed to the increased production of Greek pharmaceutical businesses. A business sector in Greece that is booming and has both local and exports. Generics is the future and Greece already has a strong pie in the local balkan region.

Road system. Our major highways, although private and expensive, are the best in Europe. I have been all over Europe and we have nothing to be jealous of versus Germany, Italy or France. In contrary they should be jealous of us. It is expensive, yes, but Turkey, a major exporter to the EU, uses our roads now as a necessity to get goods safely to their destination. Konstandinoupouli to Igoumenista to Italy and so on.

Free market? Pharmacies? No this is not a monopoly. Have you not seen how many pharmacies have popped up everywhere? Are you aware that super markets can now have pharmacies? This will change the landscape alone in this sector. The difference is that we choose to go to our local pharmacy because we want an expert opinion from "our own" phamacists. It is a personal issue. Law is there. But companies have not come yet. They will. The invester who brings CVS to Greece will make a pile of money. Drive in pharmacy like the USA. It is all coming. The only reason it has not happened yet is that commercial companies do not choose to sell to non pharmacies because it is a strong sector. It will change though.

Sunday opening? That is an American idea which simply cannot be implemented in Greece. Firstly, it is an idea which costs more for a business in Greece to open on Sunday because nobody goes. In America it works because America has a larger population and people go to shop on Sunday. It is a cultural thing. Greeks will not go on Sunday. The idea is a disaster and there are already discussions in stopping this. Nice idea, didn’t work.

Transportation? OSE I assume? I pray for the day that either Cosco or the French bidder buys OSE. In my Masters of Logistics Managment in 1997 I studied the logistics changes of the 80's in the USA. Imports from ASIA would go through the Panama canal to service EAST coast USA. That ended with the idea of train piggy back. Containers would be dropped off at west coast and onto rails and be shipped by trains to the east coast. The costs of shipping were halved in one night.

Now imagine Greece. We are the first major port or can be the largest port into EU coming out of the Suaze or outgoing to Asia and Mid Asia. Piggy back to Europe and compete directly with all the northern european ports EASY. Increased turnover, increased infrastructure, more jobs, reduced costs for local goods, increase in exports for local companies. The handling of containers by Cosco has greatly increased since it was a public port. Thank God! Why on earth do you think Cosco bought our port? For Greece and the local market? No because they see the oppotunity to own and serve Europe through Greece. Very wise our Chinese friends. As a public port we would never be able to aspire to this. This will be a great thing if this happens. I believe it will.

ERT: Although this smells from the top to bottom, I am sorry to say I am glad they closed ERT. Yes nice programs and good reporting but I am not going to pay 30-40 euro monthly for this. NO WAY. I can get Nova with 30 channels with the same money. As a news source the private channels were propaganda machines anyway. They simply removed the balanced opinion. It was not worth the money. Especially for once a week shows who the presenter was making XXX,000 euro? per show to get piss drunk and have fun with his friends.

Don't look at things as we normally see things. With our negative attitude or our disbeliefs. Things are happening and things will change. I also get discouraged with many things in our country, but we must have faith and strength within ourselves to all help move foward. Together. Nobody can ever stop us if we were togther and you know this.

Although I am not a Keynesian, I do admire one of his most well noted quotes: "The difficulty lies not in the new ideas but in escaping from the old ones."

Change is happening and we need to embrace it. Even if an idea is wrong, we need to find the positive in it.

Like Socrates said, "know thyself." Do you know what our biggest problem is? We are 9 million greeks in greece and for every issue or aspect of our society, we have 9 million opinions.

We have incredible diversity. This is a good and intrinsic value of character. nobody has it like us. But it must not be in our way to grow. So when we see something new, we should not bash it but embrace it and try to improve it if it has flaws. 

And rethinking the above I would say we are on a better track than what most people think".


  1. "Who Says Things Have Not Improved in Greece?"

    Certainly not the OECD!

    1. I find that the commentary "improvement in Greece" here a bit exaggerated, with a bit of wishful thinking, (which I would like to see happening as well)! I also find the way put down a bit nationalistic, the greatest roads of the EU1?
      "Lay offs may not have been many" so why all the so unemployed? As for the Chinese port, I believe it is there to use as a port for Chinese products mainly, also the employed are mostly if not all Chinese.

  2. Who says things have not improved in Greece?? I do. There have been superficial changes "forced upon her" by the Troika.
    47-54-56-57-71-78-80-94-80??? That is Greece's corruption ranking on Transparency Internationals lists in the years 2005 to 2013. Lots have been said about the costs of corruption and how it hinders business. Corruption also prevents innovation, that's why Greece scores so low on innovation. Unless that is changed Greece is doomed to live from cheap tourism and farming, the work mainly carried out by low paid foreigners, and in competition with countries with even lower wages.

    1. Try not to follow statistics too much. Have them as a guide or a generic idea not a basis to make a decision of what is reall going on. Transparency rating what is it and how is it determined when the actual figurs do not exist. There is indeed alot of "black money" in Greece, but it is not in the dvisions of shooting starts or sectors which are showing growth. I am in a position to see smal to large industry units and i can tell you in 6 years the market has cleaned up. There is no margin of error for serious businesses to play with their books anymore and have black money. The noos is too tight ans zdoe (Tax evation office) is every now. Anything transparent and on the books is closely watched. And the black money generated does not come from the small businesses for a missing receitp here and there. the black market money is coming from specific sectors of "bad" business which mafia dictated. #1 Petrol products. #2 ciggerrtes and tobacco #3 Buying and selling of gold. These need political will to be destroyed but usually politicians are one way indirectly involved.


    2. Keep dreaming! Greece nothing never change! We read it everyday on our press.


  3. I wonder about people's ability to deceive themselves. When "the sacrifices of the Greek people" (with a slight nudging from the Troika) earn them an improvement in Doing Business ranking, then it is the gospel. When the dishonesty causes them to slip in the corruption ranking, then it should be ignored. I don't understand the logic.
    As for businesses cleaning up their act, go on dreaming.

    1. Hello, just to be clear, i am not neither the author of the article nor "v". Now, i understand that you are not greek, but i think you should dig a little more about how this corruption ranking is complied. After you do that, it would be necessary to have a minimal knowledge for Greece, but since you don't, let me tell you. When things go bad, the percentage of Greeks that nags goes up. It's a form of mass psychotherapy. If you don't understand what i mean, it's because you haven't read yet how this index is compiled. This is my last post to an otherwise expert on the subject.