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The Greek Economy

The Greek economy is a market oriented economy with limited state intervention, bound by the trends of international organisations as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the European Union (EU). Greece is the 12th member of the European Monetary Union (euro-zone), since the January 1st 2001.

The Greek economy, from 1995 onwards, manifested an annual average rate 3.6 per cent (1995-2002), exceeding the average rate achieved by the EU. Greek GDP growth contributes to the fastest rate of convergence between Greece and other member states compared to the european average, while the country joined the European Union, since 1981.

Currently the picture is not as rosy but try to find an economy in the world where it is. What keeps the Greek economy chugging along is the shopping habits of the Athenians who are not afraid to go into debt, max out credit cards and spend their week's pay on a night out at the bouzoukia. However the habits of the Greek government, which wastes, loses and steals money and then tries to tax the people to get it back, create a precarious situation should the economy fail. Unlike the USA which can print all the money it needs, Greece's government is broke and the only way they have of getting money is from EU handouts, which have become less frequent since the EU is less willing to give away money that just disappears, (as for example the land registry which was paid for by the EU, the money vanished, and the government charged the Greek people to register their property.)

Tourism brings in a lot of foreign capital but problems with Greece's overseas image threaten this(riots, fires, crime, mostly in Athens). Greece's efforts to counteract negative information in the international press, with advertising that shows the good side of Greece has been lackadaisical to put it mildly. A full page ad by the Greek National Tourist Organization in an English language newspaper sold only in Greece is not the best way to promote Greece's image abroad nor are giant billboards on the way to and from the Athens airport. But at least it will be seen by those who may question where the money for promoting Greece goes.

As for investing in Greece there are some solid companies and the Athens stock market has a lot of foreign investment since most of the local investors lost all their money in the last crash. Ethniki Trapeza is a good bet, as are the larger banks and Marfin seems like a good investment. But talk to your broker and don't take financial advice from travel writers. (My financial advisor is Greek-American). As for starting a business in Greece... look before you leap.

If you are an investor with nerves of steel you can probably make some money in Greece provided it has actually bottomed out (2012). For people who live in Greece the economy is terrible.

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