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Friday, January 13, 2017

Foreign Investment - A Long Shot?

This rather pessimistic commentary by Alexis Papachelas of the Ekathimerini concludes with the following paragraph:

"Greece has become cheap, it has potential and a capable manpower; but in order to lure investors it will have to implement reforms and inspire confidence, and it will need a government that speaks the same language as investors."

There, in only one sentence, everything is said! I would only add: Greece also needs a society which sees the positive aspects of foreign investments.

The economic ingredients all speak in favor of Greece: yes, Greece has become rather cheap and, of course, Greece has a capable manpower and potential. So why are foreign investors not lining up to put their money into the Greek economy, into real investments instead of only financial speculations?

To blame it all on "those old-school leftists, revolting against every privatization and investment plan, by whom the Prime Minister is surrounded" is simplifying things. Yes, the PM's aides are "constantly trying to douse the flames that continue to erupt here and there. Perhaps it is even against the PM's political DNA, which makes him feel more at home in Havana or when promising handouts to the electorate." But even if there were a center-right government tomorrow, I am not sure that things would change radically overnight. Yes, there would be more visits and photo-op's with visiting potential foreign investors and a few of them might even put their money into projects which promise good short-term returns.

But will those potential investors really see Greece as a great place to do business in the longer term? Some of them, like Cosco, most certainly will because Greece offers them a long-term perspective (entry to Europe via the South-East) which is promising enough to outweigh any short-term hurdles and/or disappointments. But how about the regular non-European foreign investor who is screening European countries with a view of determining the best place to build his new plant? How about the European foreign investor who wants to take advantage of Greece's cheap labor, its capable manpower and its potential?

I have no doubt that the country's elites, political and otherwise, when visited by potential foreign investors, will express great interest, if not even enthusiasm about a potential investment. The question I have, however, is whether those elites really represent the general feelings among Greek society. Is Greek society really convinced that foreign investments can be a very good thing for the country? Or is there a general view that foreign investors, after all, are here for profit and the profit which they will take abroad is profit which, without them, would stay in Greece?

I think only real results would change any prejudices among Greek society, if at all. Only if there is a significant number of foreign investments which truly show what long term benefits they are for the Greek economy and for the prosperity of Greeks, only then is Greek society likely to give up any prejudices which there may be.

It's really a matter of education. As long as society feels that a most valuable train company is given away to Italians for a song; that the most profitable regional airports are given away to the Germans for nothing; in short: that this is a sell-out of valuable Greek assets to greedy foreigners; well, as long as that is the general feeling in society, foreign investment will never flourish.

50 comments:

  1. You contradict yourself. You talk about capable manpower and then strongly hint about lack of education.

    I agree with your lack of education view. Take a tour of the best Greek Universities and you will see why there is a lack of education.

    Cheers.

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    Replies
    1. Well, I guess you are right. I shouldn't have used the word education. What I mean was something like a bit more enlightenment about the benefits of foreign investments.

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    2. You're confounding ideology with education, which is rather typical for ideologists. Privatisation of basic infrastructures are not beneficial per se and the issue, no matter the time or place, is always subject, amongst other, to ideological debate, hence the ample and hasteful references to education, where with "education" one means, whether expressly or not, his prefered ideological positions. To deny that is to preach one's own ideology.

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    3. Well, let me give you some 'education': very few people in the world would equate, as you do, foreign investment with privatizations. Regrettably, that has become ideology for many in Greece. Privatizations, when the buyer comes from abroad, are technically a foreign investment because money crosses the border to invest in a company. In reality, a privatized company on day 1 after the privatization is no different than before it. The only thing is that the seller (the state) has received cash. Oftentimes, such privatizations lead to a transfer of R&D, of production, etc. and it is not unusual that, at the end of the day, all that is left is a shell company for local sales. That is exactly the opposite of desirable foreign investment.

      Desirable foreign investment is when something happens as a result of it which would not have happened without it. That could be: new machinery & equipment; new technology; new employment; new markets; new products; etc. etc.

      I have often had the impression that many Greeks have been indoctrinated to equalize foreign investment with privatizations of infrastructure. If you don't accept the term 'indoctrinated', then I would replace it with 'brainwashed'. What I mean by 'education' or 'enlightenment' is to reduce the amount of brainwashing.

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    4. I'm afraid you're contradicting yourself. For starters, you’re the one who first cited privatizations of railroads and airports as examples of foreign investments that Greek population should "educate" himself to accept; and then, in answer to my comment, you were once more the one who stated that privatizations of this kind can turn out to be "false investments" or even catastrophes. Plus, in the present circumstances, many internals but especially externals factors seem to prioritize privatization of infrastructures as the most pertinent form of foreign investment or even as a "sine qua non" for the aid to Greece to continue. So one cannot bypass the subject when discussing foreign investments presently in Greece (or in other countries that have found themselves, at certain points through their history, in similar situations); so I don't think I'm being "indoctrinated" when I say they are very valid concerns to be raised, which ideological catch-phrases like: "owning the reforms", "a change of mentality", "education" and whatnot serve to circumvent.

      In fact, I think we are in agreement in certain points but not in the way you (or Papachelas) try to frame the discussion; the stakes are high and there exist very real dangers and that's why the debate cannot help but be ideologically charged - even if one party constantly claims to be anything but. That doesn’t mean one should not try to be honest about his ideological premices or even bias and not demand from the other to do the same.
      Lykinos

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    5. Klaus: it is indeed a matter of education. Your education. Greece is not cheap. Why on Earth are you so deluded as to think that this is the case? The taxation costs in Greece are now so onerous, along with the bureaucratic costs of organising anything, that Greece is now a very expensive country to do business in. That is why businesses continue to leave for Bulgaria, Czech Republic etc.

      The education required is that of the German mafia current running the eurozone. They have no clue about how to run an economy other than the current German model -- a low currency, a pre-existing industrial structure able to produce high-quality goods, and a pre-existing state structure going back to the Middle Ages. Greece has none of these, and the moronic Krauts are stupid and aorrgant enough to think that their "German model" can be emulated by others.

      You are making the same basic errors about the Greek economy. There are many deficiencies in Greek society and polity which are reflected in economic structure: yet these remain peripheral because the elephant in the room is the Germanic low IQ that is destroying the eurozone.

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    6. Good Job Anonynous: Keep blaming the Germans for the ills of Greece's Economy. Ills who the oldest of us remember starting in the 70's before the Eurozone even existed.
      Good Luck too, Anonymous awaiting the German economic policies to change, instead of Greece to reform / adapt to current macro realities

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    7. Indeed, KK: it is a pointless task to hope that Germans will be capable of learning on their own. We have two world wars, and an entire 19th century, proving that the only way Germans learn is by given a good ass-kicking. The mistake that the West made in 1990 was in allowing reunification -- contrary to all political decisions made after 1945. This is where Schaeuble made his political career and money, by exploiting the East Germans and creating a new German superstate. We are all now paying the price for our politicians' stupidity -- as we did in 1939-45.

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    8. Here is an interesting article about Germany:

      https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/germany-merkel-eu-leadership-by-marcel-fratzscher-2016-12

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  2. @kleingut:
    Why on earth should anyone with a clear mind consider to invest in Greece?
    According to the Latest "Ease of doing business" ranking of the World Bank Greece is still the second last of all 28 EU countries. Only Malta is worse.
    Among other issues:
    - The country is still a bureaucratic nightmare.
    - The country is still utterly currupt.
    - The government (and the majority of populace) is still anything but pro business.
    - The legal system is still highly inefficient.
    - The educational system is not competitive. The science performance is below PISA average and shows "one of the strongest decreases among PISA-participating countries and economies."

    Maybe investments in infrastructure and tourism here and there makes sense but in general evenas a contrarian investor I wouldn’t touch Greece with a ten foot pole.
    Urs

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    1. I note that you are familiar with basic facts about Greece, but clearly have absolutely no analytical sense of why Greece is like this. Such an approach characterises the superficial banking and investment world, which is partly why we are all in a post-capitalist mess.

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    2. @Anonymous at 4:38 PM

      Quote: "I note that you are familiar with basic facts about Greece, but clearly have absolutely no analytical sense of why Greece is like this. "

      But that’s the point. People who invest expect a return on their investment. They are neither historians nor samaritians or socialists. You can explain to them why Greece is like this ’till you are blue in the face that doesn’t make their investments less risky or more rewarding.

      Quote: "Such an approach characterises the superficial banking and investment world, which is partly why we are all in a post-capitalist mess."

      I don’t think so. North-Korea and Cuba may be in a post-capitalist mess - most other countries still trust in capitalism.
      Urs

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    3. Urs: if you think that the current world economic mess is capitalism, then your grasp of economics is also weak. The fundamental aspect of capitalism is that it is founded on production and consumption; the current mess is not such. Over the last two decades, money has been made out of fraud, complex financial instruments whose value was unknown, Ponzi schemes everywhere (in effect, rather than in law) and advanced capitalist countries where income inequality is now so bad that large proportions of their populations are on the poverty line.

      As for investments, they need returns. I do not advise anyone to invest in Greece. I am explaining to you that the problems need to be fixed, and few know what the problems are. You describe the symptoms, as many do. That is of no help at all.

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    4. @Anonymous at 2:49 PM
      Quote: "The fundamental aspect of capitalism is that it is founded on production and consumption."

      Sorry but that is definitely not the fundamental aspect of capitalism. Let wikipedia explain it to you:
      "Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets."

      Quote: "As for investments, they need returns. I do not advise anyone to invest in Greece. I am explaining to you that the problems need to be fixed, and few know what the problems are."

      Go on, tell us what the problems of Greece are and who shall fix them.
      Urs

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    5. Urs: I have lectured economics in world class universities. I do not care what wikipedia idiots have written. They have chosen to contrast capitalism with state socialism -- as hardly exists anywhere now. It is simply not relevant to the argument.

      Why do stupid people think they are so clever? This is a mystery to me.

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  3. One has to be crazy to invest in Greece with the horrible euro currency and see their investment drop in value by 40% or more from the get go.

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    1. @Anonymous at 11:51
      Quote: "One has to be crazy to invest in Greece with the horrible euro currency and see their investment drop in value by 40% or more from the get go."

      Wrong on many accounts:
      1. As a Swiss or US investor you would have to consider the currency risk but as a EZ based investor the currency would be the last you should worry when you would consider to invest in EZ Greece.
      2. Imagine your currency based losses if Greece would have left the EZ.
      3. "From the get go" is utter nonsense. The Euro lost against the US Dollar in the last 5 years around 25% peak to trough and in the last 10 years around 35% again peak to trough. From it’s inception the Euro lost around 10% against the US Dollar.
      Urs

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    2. Urs:

      In August 2014 the euro was $1.45. Today close to $1.00. The smart money expects the euro to drop to $0.70. That's a massive 50% currency devaluation.

      No one has money in Europe to invest in Greece. The serious investment could only come from the US, UK and the Commonwealth countries (Canada, Australia et al).

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    3. @ Anonymous at 5:26
      Quote: "
      In August 2014 the euro was $1.45. Today close to $1.00. The smart money expects the euro to drop to $0.70. That's a massive 50% currency devaluation."

      Not according to my data: The USD peaked in 2014 just under 1.40 and bottomed in 2017 just under 1.04 which comes to around - 25.71%.
      Your estimation may or may not come true but you do not base discussions on speculation you base them on facts.

      Quote: " No one has money in Europe to invest in Greece. The serious investment could only come from the US, UK and the Commonwealth countries (Canada, Australia et al)."

      Utter nonsense. Actually there a billions of Euros parked waiting to be invested. May I ask where you are from?
      Urs

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  4. There plenty of investments under way in Greece and thank God none of them german or of germanic type:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhFf10ZY9_M

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  5. Here is another investment under way all undertaken by a Greek firm (no germans need to apply):

    http://www.ypodomes.com/index.php/astiki-anaptiksi/anaplaseis/item/38287-i-perifereia-anethese-stin-aktor-tin-anaplasi-falirikoy-ormou

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  6. Hermes

    Mr Kastner, you asked if Greek society is willing to accept foreign investment. Research firm Dianeosis asked this very same question in their What Greeks Believe survey last year.

    If you scroll to page 49 on the linked report, you will see if you can get someone to read the Greek, that according to this survey, Greeks are overwhelmingly in favour of foreign investment across categories of sex, party, salary etc. The numbers are even quite strong in strategic sectors. See page 50.

    http://www.dianeosis.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Posotiki_Apriliou_Spreads.pdf

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  7. The question is whether the population knows what foreign investment is. After so many years of statist society their understanding of the word is not the same as in the rest of Europe. I honestly don't think they are able to distinguish between grants, loans and investments, it is all money that is send to the Greek government to create jobs there. I know the Greek constitution guarantee the citizens work, but that guarantee was not issued by the Lithuanian citizens, who by the way don;t have the same guarantee.

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    1. I know fully well that to engage with somebody drenched in ideology on the basis of their snide remarks is to bring grist to their mill; I mean, "static society"? Not only does it not mean in sociology what you and your comrades conveniently think it does but you're also few steps away from ideological mumbo-jumbo of the all-that-is-needed-is-a-creative-catastrophe variety… And that's some heavy stuff, man...
      Even so, I won't let it slide that, when you're bewailing that Lithuanians are, supposedly, footing the bill for Greece, you, Sir or Madame, you are giving away on your own that your "understanding of the word" doesn't extend far beyond your considerable nose… Unless, of course, you're not some destitute Lithuanian but you hail from certain rich north European country(/-ies);and in that case, you just couldn't help yourself not to shed some bitter crocodile tears , could you?
      Secondly, the Greek constitution does not guarantee a job to everybody - if that's what you mean to imply by this willfully vague "guarantees the citizens' work" - but the right to work, assuring conditions for gainful and meaningful employment safe from sexual or other kinds of discriminations (http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Vouli-ton-Ellinon/To-Politevma/Syntagma/article-22/).
      Do you mean to tell us that the Lithuanian constitution is so retrograde that it doesn't?
      But, more importantly, where did you get that ridiculous idea of yours?
      Ah, the Bild readers of the world! Always falling for and regurgitating the most apparent bull… when not distinguishing "between grants, loans and investments", of course…
      Lykinos

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  8. "are here for the profit and the profit which they will take abroad is profit which, without them, would stay in Greece?". No, the profit that is not being generated because they are not here. What they would leave here are wages, taxes and some badly needed technology and skill upgrading.

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  9. Urs pretty much sum up most of the problems. I consider education one of the most serious. The workforce in Greece is described with very flattering expressions in media as well as government publications. They are well educated, qualified, skilled, innovative, capable and change orientated. OECD has for many years disagreed with that, their studies indicate the opposite, for students (PISA) as well as grown ups. Not only do their studies place Greece at the bottom, they also show a drop in recent years.
    One thing the Greek education system has managed to do is break with the "social heritage". Greek students now have uniform skills, independent of the wealth and education of their parents. For Greeks not "to let them go as far as their talents and endeavors will carry them". They are close to the bottom of the EU 27. Below countries they compete with for investments.
    Most studies only measure the skills, not the equally important issue of whether the skills are "fit for purpose". To have the most skilled rocket experts is of no use in a country without rocket industry.
    In 2010 Greece had 6,1 practicing doctors per thousand citizens, the EU 27 had 3,4. It is still the most popular discipline in the universities. In 2015 Greece had 3,9 lawyers per thousand, the EU 27 had 1,0. It is still one of the most popular studies. The situation for economists and political scientists is most likely the same, but figures not as readily available. Now these disciplines are not exactly innovative, neither the stuff that large companies with many employees are build upon, nor are they export locomotives. Qualified craftsmen of all trades are practically non-existent. There is no apprentice ship of the category (dual education)that is the back bone of all high tech manufacturing companies with many employees. The engineer running production or projects has never worked on the shop floor, and the worker has no understanding of applied math, geometry, chemistry and physics. Hell, a normal worker can't read a simple blue print or instruction (increasingly written in another language and alphabet), and the engineer cannot show him how to do.
    There is a gap that it will take decades to close, provided Greece will admit it exists.
    There is another cultural or ideological barrier to large scale production investments, Greeks don't like to have a boss. In the public sector the problem does not arise since everybody pretty much do what they want. In the private sector, where a certain methodology must be kept if the are to make a profit, it is a problem. To work for a boss is associated with being exploited by capitalists, a slave.
    Lennard

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    1. But Zorbas liked working for his 'boss'...

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    2. @Lennard
      Impressive insights. Which political party in Greece (if any) would be aware of this educational problems?
      Urs

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  10. TRAINOSE SOLD!

    One more public company privatized thankfully. With this Fraport and Ellinikos, this quite a positive aspect to our economy, looking in 2017. Now if only the natural gas companies get sold we are on our way. Imagine if ND made this privatizations? Syriza would have the whole country in the streets. Maybe Tsipras needs to stay on just a bit longer to get the dirty work out of the way.

    As for the investments in Greece (aside the privatizations) There are investments if you look around. Review any healthy Greek corporation and you will see that. It is not flooding in but it is coming.

    If Syriza gets the dirty work out of the way, it may pave the road for ND to make the necessary changes later, to become a functioning economy while curbing the remaining public sector. It remains to be seen.

    One thing for certain is new 2nd evaluation will not be completed before the German Elections. Unless Tsipras caves 100% once again. He will muddle till after the German elections. He is in love with his chair. If he can hang on for 1 - 1,5 years more, when election do come, he will be so hated i doubt he will get more than 5% at the election booths. Then good reddens.

    Sincerely,
    V

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    1. @V
      From the comments I have heard from Greeks about the Trainose deal during our last stay there from August-December, you might want to consider hiring bodyguards. That is a deal that seemed to attract everyone's ire unanimously. My friends were furious. The state had given away a company with most valuable assets for a song (I believe 54 MEUR). I told them that this would depend on whether the buyers assumed the debt and if the debt was worth more or less than those most valuable assets, as well as on the future needs to put in fresh money to cover operational losses. But such arguments carried no weight. To them, the Trainose deal was just one more example of that conspiracy which aimed at exploiting Greece on the cheap. There was a master plan behind all of this. At the end of that exercise, Greece would remain stripped naked just like East Germany was left stripped naked after unification with the West. If you want, I can give you the email address of my best friend with whom you could debate this in Greek...

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    2. Hermes

      You should really get out an travel more and meet more Greeks. Most Greeks I know were relieved this entity was sold and they will not have bear its burden anymore. Of course, they lamented it was sold so cheaply but they realise it would cost them even more if the State hung onto it and used it channel political favours forever.

      I have often noticed that when foreigners like you marry Greeks, and they travel to their spouses little town or village, they extrapolate village discussions to the whole country. Just imagine, if I married a German and travelled to some part of that country, populated by really well mannered, but ultimately backward people, and extrapolated some dense discussions to the whole German nation. That would be unfair wouldn't it?

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    3. Hi Mr. Kastner,

      Nothing to worry, as Anonymous 5:15 states, most people agreed to see this public company go. If indeed the Italian company takes on the debt as well this is even a bigger bonus.

      People are really stupid. A company that is losing 100-400mEUR annual per year in the good old days, is a huge hole which is being closed for the future. Likewise a private company will seek to make investments to make it profitable and also increase the value of Greece as a whole.

      TRAINOSE is huge! It is nothing by comparison to the sale of Olympic airways. Which was another big hole. Olympic was a huge hole as well, but in its void, other carriers filled in the void as infrastructure was available. So only the closing of a hole was achieved. In the instance of Trainose it is the future infrastructure and new lines i am hoping for and I am sure will happen. No private investor seeks to muddle through with an investment. Meanwhile this will make Greece become that what i have been saying for years. Greece to be the 1st port of the EU. Transfer all goods from Piraeus to all of the Eu. Ok maybe i am thinking too big, but even a small piece of the transfer of goods will increase the competitiveness of Greece.

      Instead of Cretan food goods going by ships to northern harbors they can be trained much cheaper through Trainose.

      When growth and profit come with this and the conspiracy theories come out I will simply tell them, ok so why didn't you simply do it yourself? Greece had more than 60 years to build this and only made a hole.

      I'll tell you why it didn't happen. Because the trucker union is much stronger and lobbied (in a Greek way) for Trainose to never build new lines infrastructure etc. Politicians paid off by truckers to not invest into Trainose. Then the Public workers of Trainose saw this and said ok before we die off, let's milk this dead cow to its death.

      So small minded people. Trainose will also compete with the future of transportation of goods which is Self drive vehicles. Something that will be very hard to implement in Greece for the time being.

      At Anonymous 5:15am.

      I disagree with you. Most of the times small villages are a clear cut example of way of thinking and mentality of the total society.

      Sincerely,
      V

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    4. I should explain that the "Greeks" whom I cited are not village people but rather well informed residents of Thessaloniki. The most outspoken of them, of course, is my neighbor and best friend, the theoretical Marxist Yiannis.

      V hit the nail when he said that "Trainose is huge". People who do not have a mind for finance will see two things: a huge company on one hand and a small amount of money (54 MEUR) on the other. And they feel cheated because no one really explains things to them.

      I am reminded of the fate of the Austrian national airline carrier, AUA. State-owned until a few years ago, it was losing tons of money. Lufthansa offered to buy and Austria was ready to sell but they were offended by Lufthansa's offering price (I believe 500 MEUR). Particularly the Socialists were convinced that the loss-making airline was worth a lot more. In fact, an otherwise most respected former Socialist Finance Minister said cockily: "That would be a give-away. If we want to give the company away, we can always do that later".

      Well, a few years later, Austria gave AUA away to Lufthansa but Lufthansa would only accept the present if Austria added a gift of 500 MEUR cash (which Austria added). So, it became clear to everyone that to give AUA away at +500 MEUR would have been a lot better than to give it away at -500 MEUR...

      I wish I could comment specifically on Trainose but for that I would need their balance sheet and income statement, neither of the two I could find on the company's website.

      Delete
  11. Yes Klaus, Zorbas liked working for Basil. Even literature acknowledge that given enough material means and freedom to do pretty much what you want, the problem does not arise.
    Lennard

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  12. @Hermes.
    Thanks for pointing us to diaNEOsis. Their home page is in English as well, it has some rather interesting data.
    Lennard

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  13. The TRAINOSE sale must be a blessing for the Greek Treasury, fellows! Greatly surprised that they found someone to acquire it! The company's revenue did not cover its payroll bill, not to speak about other operational costs, maintenance and admin expense, the interest on loans, ...., the cost of "enterprising" employees hitching their "own" cargo wagons on to TRAINOSE locs, ....

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    1. It seems to me that you should hire a bodyguard, too...

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    2. What there is to say about people whose line of thought is prevailing enough to be made into politics and yet they do not cease to style themselves as victims or even persecuted?

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  14. @Hermes.
    I have, with interest read the survey you mentioned (What Greeks Believe). There is indeed a surprisingly large majority of Greeks who approve of foreign investment, but it should be taken into the context of the other answers in the poll.
    86% approve of foreign investment and 71,5 of foreign investment in strategic sectors. But of the same people only 23,9 approve of capitalism and 38,1 of multinational enterprises.
    Now, foreign investors are, by my definition, multinational capitalists.
    Potential foreign investors read papers like this survey, I have found nothing in the paper that would convince me to invest in Greece, on the contrary. I would fear that when I tried to control my investment and realize a profit, I would face the problem of the multinational capitalist.
    It highlights the question another contributor asked "do Greeks know what foreign investment is"? My diplomatic answer is "they don't understand the words the same way I do".
    Lennard

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  15. Mr. Kastner,

    In continuation to the above thread reply of January 20, 2017 at 11:34 AM, (for some reason the reply button on that thread is not working). You also hit the nail on the coffin.

    No politician currently in Greece, is explaining what this Trainose deal means. Furthermore, all of the privatizations in general.

    What the politicians should do is come straight with the people. But do not due out of fear of loss of votes, to popularistic phenomenas of Greece.

    I bet the person who comes straight and explains in detail will get more popular rather than lose votes. Here is a brief statement.

    "We as a country are more or less bankrupt (figuratively speaking). There are many sectors within our society which have huge problems and you the people know this quite well. Considering we want to be a part of the west which is a capitalist system (with its problems of course) we need to generate growth and investment in our country sector by sector......

    Unfortunately I and my colleague politicians of the past have squandered and mis-managed our public companies and properties. It is these last assets of our country that can save us from utter disaster. Selling off state assets is NOT something we want to do but must due because our country is so indebted that nobody will loan us funds as to make these companies competitive. Furthermore our track record of the past, in managing these public works is not good hence even if we had a sound plan our creditors simply do not trust us.

    Take for example Train OSE. A highly in debt company which has had many prospects but can not be invested to because we can not find the funds. With the combination of Pireaus (Cosco Port) Greece has the opportunity in through the sale of Trainose, to supply all goods from the east through our ports and train system newly sold. By doing this the new train system will be able to serve local commercial and public services likewise and more importantly international services. Something that will spark a growth, not just for Greece but the general region, which is to Greece's advantage. This in the long term will equate for the need for warehousing, factories, storage units and services companies. All equating to jobs. Healthy growth which will help spark confidence once again in our country...."

    I can go on so easy but you get the point.

    If someone spoke like this i believe even your city friends in Thessaloniki would at least give some benefit of the doubt.

    Sincerely,
    V

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  16. Greece is like a huge 20,000 piece jigsaw puzzle....

    To fix it you need to find some basic areas then all the rest of the pieces will fall into place on their own. The basic areas is privatizations and public works management.

    I will add a thread on Monday of a personal story with the Tax Ministry (EFORIA). I'm half way through my story.

    Sincerely,
    V

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  17. "What the population thinks" (the population is hugely in favor btw as all data shows) is irrelevant, as long as there is a risk of extremely higher taxes and one-off levies or Grexit. Foreign investment will never come as long as Germany and the IMF won't signal that there's no political risk. That's the bottom line.

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  18. But V.
    Greece has had driver less vehicles as long as I remember.

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  19. @peavey
    Then foreign investment won't come.

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  20. @Lykinos and the gent who raised the question of the Greek Constitution.
    The Greek Constitution does issue a guarantee for work, at least in its English translation, and the citizens certainly assume it is the case. The way the word right is used can only be understood as the entitlement or claim right, as opposed to the liberty right or freedom from/to. Let me quote some examples:
    -"It shall be the concern of the authorities to promote the provision of sufficient employment" (Dutch).
    -"All citizens have the right freely to choose their trade and their place of work" (German).
    -"To further the common well being we endeavor to achieve that every able bodied citizen can get work" (Danish).
    -"The right to pursue ---" (US American).
    All of them being liberty rights, the applicants having the natural right to pursue work and nobody having an obligation to give them work.
    Or.
    -"Work constitute a right and shall enjoy the protection of the state" (Greek).
    -"The power of the people guarantees that there will be no man or woman capable of working who lacks opportunity to obtain an employment" (Cuban).
    Both of them being legal entitlement rights, which oblige the other citizens to provide them with work.
    For "the authorities", "we", "the state" and "the power of the people" read, "the other citizens", remember, the constitution is a contract between all citizens, "by the people, for the people". As for the Lithuanian constitutions position on work, I don't know if it has any, many developed countries don't. After all, the liberty rights are natural, not legal, they don't have to be agreed in the constitution since they are not a burden on other citizens.
    Lennard

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    Replies
    1. Part 1
      1. H εργασία αποτελεί δικαίωμα και προστατεύεται από το Kράτος, που μεριμνά για τη δημιουργία συνθηκών απασχόλησης όλων των πολιτών και για την ηθική και υλική εξύψωση του εργαζόμενου αγροτικού και αστικού πληθυσμού.
      Όλοι οι εργαζόμενοι, ανεξάρτητα από φύλο ή άλλη διάκριση, έχουν δικαίωμα ίσης αμοιβής για παρεχόμενη εργασία ίσης αξίας.

      2. Work constitutes a right and shall enjoy the protection of the State, which shall care for the creation of conditions of employment for all citizens and shall pursue the moral and material advancement of the rural and urban working population.
      All workers, irrespective of sex or other distinctions, shall be entitled to equal pay for work of equal value.

      3. Le travail constitue un droit et est sous la protection de l’État, qui veille à la création des conditions de plein emploi pour tous les citoyens, ainsi qu’au progrès moral et matériel de la population active, rurale et urbaine.
      Toutes les personnes actives, indépendamment du sexe ou d’autre trait distinctif, ont droit à une rémunération égale pour tout travail accompli de valeur égale.

      4. Die Arbeit ist ein Recht und steht unter dem Schutz des Staates, der für die Sicherung der Vollbeschäftigung und für die sittliche und materielle Förderung der arbeitenden ländlichen und städtischen Bevölkerung sorgt.
      Unabhängig von Geschlecht oder anderen Unterscheidungen haben alle Arbeitenden das Recht auf gleiche Entlohnung für gleichwertig geleistete Arbeit.


      I see you’re working overtime, Lennard, trying to prove that black is white! That’s why I even cited the French translation, sure that you’ll enthusiastically bite the bait, not bothering to study up on the meaning of the words or, apparently, even to read a small passage from start to finish…
      Also, one of your citations is so blatantly false that one must take with a huge grain of salt the others too.
      What’s more amusing is how similar are the Danish and Cuban provisions, and yet you managed to miss it. I wonder why…
      As for your legalistic extrapolations now, Lennard, they are so far-fetched that you leave me no choice but to take you by the hand and guide you through the (not so confusing) words.
      So, what we actually read on the Greek constitution – as opposed to what you wished to read – is that work constitutes A RIGHT and as such is being PROTECTED by the state. The citizens have the right to work; absolutely nowhere is being stated that “work” is a job position that the state guarantees to each and every one of us, or, vice versa, that each citizen is guaranteed a job by the state, as you supposedly couldn’t help but to understand.
      Furthermore, the state protects the right to work by caring “for the creation of CONDITIONS of employment for all citizens” and not “for the creation of employment for all citizens”. Surely, an astute – and well-meaning – reader such as yourself, can tell the difference without forcing me to spell it out, can’t you, Lennard?
      In fact, the whole of your attempt at constitutional law, despite appearing serious thanks to the superfluous (and faulted!) oh-so-serious distinction between liberty and legal rights, is nothing but wild conclusions that you thoughtlessly reached because you’re desperately trying to prove a point…

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    2. Part 2
      Plus, arguing semiotics is, of course, very entertaining and all, but, as everybody knows, the competent authorities to interpret law are the courts. And to this day, to my knowledge, no Greek judge has ever decreed that article 22 “can only be understood as the entitlement or claim right” of individual citizens for the state to find them job; in fact, no one has ever understood it as such. So much for you playing the legal scholar, Lennard! Or, you could perhaps refer me to somewhere in the Greek jurisprudence to back up your expert opinion that from the Greek constitution stem “legal entitlement rights, which oblige the other citizens to provide them with work”… Good luck with that!
      But, more importantly, can you even begin to imagine, even for a moment, Lennard, what would have already happened if some judge had thought the matter as obvious and self-explanatory as you did? The only thing obvious is that you didn’t think it through, Lennard! Were you perhaps too busy gleefully planning to cite the Greek and the Cuba clauses the one after the other, thinking that mere juxtaposition proves your point? Cause should the obvious thought of the enormous implications of your latest jab at those… euh! Greeks had, even for a moment, crossed your mind, surely it would have retained you from such ridiculous aphorism: “The way the word right is used can only be understood as the entitlement or claim right, as opposed to the liberty right or freedom from/to”….
      … Or maybe not! The truth is that I don’t think you’d care about legal, “legalese” or any kind of coherent arguments and that you wouldn’t shy away from claiming that Greek courts held up unanimously your ludicrous interpretation and that the uncouth, uneducated Greek masses are, as we speak, seizing the courts in throngs, I tell you! See, Lennard, when one reaches the point to ascertain: “…and the citizens certainly assume it is the case” – and that’s the crux of your argument – for a country where the unemployment rate rests well above 20%, and it’s been there for what, to those afflicted, must seem like forever – and to think that all they had to do was to hire a Lennard for a lawyer! – all a well-meaning and levelheaded person such as myself is left to surmise, is that the one making such absurd claims has been effectively divorced from reality for years! Most of the times this is the symptom of a grave ideological blindness left untreated for far too long; and in your case it’s all that and what’s more it’s also the side-effect of your toxic bigotry that never fails to appear in each and every one of your posts in this site.
      And this has been the case once more with you, Lennard. When you read how wisely and definitively I put the other aspiring Greekologist in his proper place, you just couldn’t bear to let it stand that someone had defended your nemesis; and in your fervor to post yet another quip at the expense of those damned Greeks, namely that we’ve even enshrined our parasitic mentality in our own constitution and woe are the liberty-loving north Europeans such as your dear self that are forced to pay for those à la Cuba southern communists, you concocted post-haste a most obviously cyclical and disingenuous so-called legal argument that speaks volumes about your own bad faith rather than about the failings of your obsessively preferred target and – what’s worst – you couldn’t refrain yourself from posting that sad affair… Πήγες για μαλλί, κακομοίρη μου!
      Dixi … και δεν ξεντίξι!
      Lykinos

      PS . It’s a damn shame that you didn’t cite the French case: « Chacun a le devoir de travailler et le droit d’obtenir un employ ». Since I’m sure you don’t appreciate so much the French either, i can only imagine what hilarious legal axioms you’d be able to come up with if only you applied yourself! These commie Frenchies are all about the forced labor!

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  21. @Urs on education.
    At a certain mental level all Greeks know that the education is bad. They all have private tutors for their children to the extent they can afford. For regular teaching as well as cramming for exams. They all send their children to private schools if they can afford it, including the present PM. No other country has so many young people studying abroad.
    The "fit for purpose" is a problem not known by many Greeks, due to the previous structure of Greek society. Surplus academics went into public service or private professional services protected by the state. Only the few private companies attempting to manufacture high tech products (by Greek standards) suffered the gap in education.
    Let me give you two examples.
    You can build a highway and a bridge with 2% structural engineers and 98% workers. It may not be state of the art but it will suffice. They can pretty much do their work independent of each other.
    Should you attempt to manufacture KUKA industrial robots (or rockets) you will need 5% dynamic engineers, 75% highly skilled technicians (electronic, electrical, mechanical, metallurgical and most of all generalists, mechatronics) and 20% workers. They will need to speak the same professional language. They will need to have a knowledge overlap into each others disciplines.
    Lennard

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  22. @ Lykinos (Anonym. Jan 25, 2027 hours).
    Thank you for the analysis of my character and interpretation of my contribution.
    Danish versus Cuban version? There is an ocean between endeavour and guarantee.
    My statement that Greeks consider it a legal claim right stems from past and present behavior. Until 2009, when governing became influenced by external powers, the state treated it as such and provided positions to the people who could not find gainful work. In the period 2009 to today all attempt at establishing as a natural right only, has been met with cries of un-constitutional. Even today a simple thing like firing redundant people in private companies, without the states permission, is being branded un-constitutional.
    PS. May I suggest you consult your compatriots about the question?
    Lennard

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    Replies
    1. You are welcome! You make it easy!
      You only repeated yourself and I covered all that more than enough.
      It's clear now that I shouldn't have afforded you the benefit of the doubt with my coherent, detailed, to the point and enlightening response since all you did was to draw from your well worn-out repertoire and recant autisticaly your one-size-fits-all narrative: a mixture of distortions, omissions, inaccuracies, blatant oversimplifications, false connections, circular logic and good old lies.
      And you may not, cause I've already addressed this too in length, but it either flew over your head or you were too busy moving the goalposts and reciting your mantras to actually read what's in front of you from start to finish...
      So congratulations! Thanks to the hard work of self-suggestion you've effectively rendered yourself impervious to logical arguments. Keep on enjoying the echo inside your petite bubble, Lennard.
      Lykinos

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