Greece’s privatizations: New beginning or false dawn?

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis http://www.cartoonmovement.com/p/6035

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis http://www.cartoonmovement.com/p/6035

Greece’s first major privatization since the crisis began, secured on Wednesday when a private consortium agreed to buy a 33 percent stake in state gambling monopoly OPAP, will bring some relief to the government and its lenders. Athens has been under pressure since the start of its bailout program three years ago to sell state assets so it could raise revenue and pay off some of its mounting debt. Privatization even caused the first major rift between the troika and Greece, when the country’s lenders announced a 50-billion-euro sell-off program in February 2011 before the government.

The target for privatization revenues has since been revised downwards, first to 19 billion euros and then 11 billion euros by 2015. The pressure, however, has not decreased. The sale of the stake in OPAP to Emma Delta for a total of 712 million euros will give the Greek government some breathing space but the troika expects to see more sell-offs soon as more than 2 billion has to be raised this year.

Much has been made of how Greece has dragged its feet, failing to kickstart the privatization process quickly enough. The country’s privatization agency (HRADF) has also been slammed for lacking organization, with one analyst recently labeling its efforts as “simply not up to par on any international standards.” The fund has also been blighted by several changes of leadership.

The criticism of Greece’s efforts has been largely valid but this doesn’t mitigate the fact that it has been trying to sell in a buyer’s market. The overall European and global economic climate cannot be ignored. Greece has few truly desirable public assets and finding the right price and the appropriate bidder is a challenge that has proved mostly beyond its capabilities. Although, the government will laud the OPAP deal and hold it up as a sign that foreign investors are beginning to believe in Greece, it should not be forgotten there were only two final bids for Greece’s most profitable company and that one of these was deemed invalid. The sale of OPAP was more a case of stumbling over the finishing line than smashing through the tape.

Opposition parties have already lambasted the government for the sale, arguing the family silver is being sold off on the cheap. Despite a dip last year, the company earned revenues of almost 4 billion euros, made a profit of 505 million euros and a return on equity of almost 50 percent. Emma Delta stands to make back its initial investment within a few years, which represents a tidy but of business for the consortium. Not so clever for the Greek taxpayer, critics argue.

The government, however, will point to the fact that public coffers will benefit from its decision to increase tax on gross gaming revenue to 30 percent from this year. It will also refer dissenters to Deutsche Bank and National Bank, the main sale advisers for the OPAP deal, who valued the stake in the gambling company at 610 million euros.

This is not just about numbers, though. The government will have greater difficulty in fending off its detractors over less tangible issues. One of the other aims of the privatization program was to bring in foreign acumen to shake up the existing way of doing things and to introduce a new code of ethics to smash the often less-than-virtuous cycle between the state and the private sector. Emma Delta consists of an array of established Greek businessmen and Russian, Czech and Slovak investment funds. It is hard to imagine that their involvement heralds a brave new era for business practices in Greece. Maybe those behind Emma Delta and other investors that are to follow will overturn this impression.

Until then, doubts will continue to niggle, as will skepticism about the ultimate goal of this privatization program. As has been the case with most of what has been done in Greece over the past 3 years, the sell-off scheme appears to me motivated by little more than the need to raise revenues or cut costs. The government has certainly not sold it to the public as part of a vision of a better, more secure Greece. Perhaps, though, it would be foolish to even try. After all, Greeks need only look to their Portuguese partners-in-austerity to realize that privatization is no panacea. Between 1996 and 2000, Portugal raised the equivalent of 15.7 percent of GDP from sell-offs. It was the biggest ever privatization intake by a developed country. Today, Portugal finds itself in a similar position to Greece: trying to attract bids for what saleable assets it can scramble to find.

There is another lesson to take from history, though. While many will attribute Greece’s amateurishness in handling the sale of state assets to its reluctance and inexperience, the truth is that the country has had 180 years of experience of doing exactly this.

Greece is anomalous in comparison to its eurozone partners because the state still owns a lot of assets, particularly real estate. This is chiefly the legacy of its Ottoman occupation. The Ottomans did not want private ownership to become widespread because they feared pockets of power and resistance to the Empire building up. Greece’s first governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias, identified this as a problem and envisioned Greece becoming a country of small land-owning farmers that would help boost the economy. He never got to test his theory as he was assassinated in 1831. Bavarian prince Otto, was appointed King of Greece by the Great Powers and two years later he launched a scheme to sell public land. Otto and his regents were motivated by a completely different goal to Kapodistrias: they sought to replenish empty Greek coffers so a foreign loan could be paid off. In looking for quick returns, Otto alienated most locals and land ended up being bought by the wealthy few or grabbed illegally.

As was the case then, so now the end and the means are inextricably linked. A scheme that is driven by short-term needs and not guided by long-term goals is condemned to securing only limited achievements.

Nick Malkoutzis

52 responses to “Greece’s privatizations: New beginning or false dawn?

  1. I have always wondered why OPAP was chosen as one of the first targets for privatization. A company which earns 50% on equity can’t be all that poorly run, so there is a real question of potential for improvement through a competent new owner. Otherwise, it is a simple exercise of raising cash.

    Raising cash shouldn’t be the primary motive for privatizations. Instead, the primary motives should be all those good things a new owner could/would do and which the present owner can’t. Typical examples: know-how transfer in all areas (not only technological); new investments for expansion; etc.

    Selling into a bear market doesn’t matter all that much. Should the price be lower than it should be, one can build ‘improvement clauses’ into the agreements.

    Another thing which should be explained to the population is what the proceeds of privatizations will be used for. If the only explanation is to pay interest and/or reduce debt, voters will justifiably not be very happy. Not too many decades ago, Bavaria was one of the poorer states of Germany and the largest recipient of domestic transfers. Northern Germans complained that they had to be industrious to send money to Bavaria so that Bavarians could enjoy drinking beer. Then Bavaria started a huge privatization effort with the aim of redeploying the revenues into the new future of Bavaria: high tech, R&D, education, new industries like aerospace, etc. Today, Bavaria is probably the strongest German state and the largest contributor to the domestic transfer system. THAT IS WHAT PRIVATIZATIONS SHOULD BE ALL ABOUT! (and Bavarians are still enjoying the drinking of beer…).

    My favorite example in Greece is the Cosco investment. Within a couple of years they tripled business volume; they are making new investments to the tune of several hundred million Euro; and, by 2018, Cosco is expected to account to about 2,5% of GDP. A classic example of a win-win result of a privatization.

    • Guest (xenos)

      It is solely about raising cash, Klaus. It is a terrible idea. Of course, if the companies to be privatised were those making losses but could be turned around, I would support such a policy. They are not. As with the UK privatisations that Thatcher started, the attractive areas are state monopolies (especially essential services such as electricity and water) where hte private sector can imagine (and try to achieve) supernormal profits rhrough the existence of natural monopolies or weak competition.

      Then, it becomes a struggle (as in the UK) between state regulation and the new private sector companies (in order to stop overcharging and abuse of a dominant position), some limited faked competition (because their ideology requires this) and intervention after intervention because the market cannot actually do even as good a job as state companies, for mosf of the cases. At the same time, the prices of everything are higher and the value for money, if not actually quality, is lower.

    • I think it was chosen a.) for its sellability and b.) because of the nature of the business. Betting promoted by government is not exactly an image any government should project. Then there are European rules (anti-monopoly) which means that in the long run this OPAP business could easily turn to a losing enterprise given the more experienced competitors who do this for a living. OPAP is 50% profitable because it is 100% monopoly protected.

      From a purely business perspective the sale made sense. From a Tsipras perspective of course it doesn’t. But of course Tsipras does not know what he is talking about (the usual rhetoric of the best slices sold out for nothing). His logic only holds if you take a very narrow view of where things stand today (a snapshot) versus where things would evolve to in the long run(an educated projection). That’s very typical of the left. They only care about the ideology of an issue but not the crux of it.

      • Guest (xenos)

        As far as I am aware, every single EU country has a state owned betting business. — even if it is only a national lottery. Personally, I do not approve — but if that is the norm, then why should Greece be forced to sell its state business which is making a decent profit? (Just to be clear: I don’t approve of private betting either, and especially not of modern banking versions of it.)

      • Guest (xenos)

        Incidentally, Dean, I am not that interested in Tsipras’s views on this. I presented my own views, as a victim of the aggressive campaign of privatisations in the UK. This is not about ideology: it is clear empirical economics — something unknown in the USA as well as Greece.

        The fact that the EU has become increasingly neoliberal is a great concern, especially as they dropped it for banking but retain it for state companies. They have adopted a foolish model which resembles a second rate version of the USA, instead of developing a serious plan for the European economy.

      • I think for the same reasons Xenos that states should not be in the casino business or the brothel management business. Because such is associated with vice that has both a negative multiplier(attracts crime and related ills) plus it gives a very poor image for the state. And as I said, EU rules on state monopolies are changing. OPAP almost failed to sell based on recent ruling towards its legality.

  2. Yes but Cosco have complete control over their facilities, it’s a pity they didn’t do the same with Scaramanga as most of the problems there were caused by the various unions . Most of the assets being sold are only shares in the companies, and unless we can modernise and bring some semblance of order in our legal system we still won’t reach the most responsible investors.

  3. The core issue of privatization is not up for debate, until Greece can pay its bills. Any privatization drive has to start somewhere. Is there really a need for so much second guessing? Some of us at least have visited the HRADF/TAIPED offices (not satisfied by just hearing the rotating chiefs speak at conferences) and have watched the organization staff up. You would be less suspicious after a visit, let me assure you, but questions do need to be answered. If anything, it seems journalists could focus a bit more on who got hired for staff positions, how quickly, and what the “permanent staff” are accomplishing for the money spent.

    • Guest (xenos)

      Do you really think that the trivial amount of money to be raised from privatisations makes any difference to Greece’s overall debts? Far more relevant was the high interest rate that Germany charged Greece for the loans under the first memorandum. No, privatisation has two main goals: to force the Greek state to shrink, because the privatised companies will be the ones making good profits; and to allow foreign interests to buy up valuable Greek companies on the cheap. There is also an ideological component — neoliberal deregulatory claptrap — because the IMF and others cannot think of anything more intelligent or appropriate to suggest for any country.

      The record of privatisations across Europe is clear: they are a nett transfer of resources to the rich, and they weaken the state’s capacity to protect the weaker members of society. They are essentially a tool and dogma of the New Right and will damage ordinary Greek people badly. The sale of assets will make no discernible different to the Greek debt — whereas Germany actually repaying its Nazi forced loans with interest would make a very big difference indeed.

  4. Another_Greekboy

    The vultures are circling…

  5. Another_Greekboy

    What happens after you’ve sold off (at bargain basement prices) the few valuable assets left – assets that were actually making money for the state (because no one is buying the ones that aren’t)? Do you then start selling the country off island by island?

    • Guest (xenos)

      They already started selling the islands, to Qatar… Next will be Turkey!

      Kastellorizo is not a cost-effective island: perhaps this should be sold for a bargain basement price to Turkey. Doubtless the IMF would approve of this economic logic.

      • And rich Greeks have bought up half of London, what difference does it make if it’s an Island or not.

      • Guest (xenos)

        Ann: the boundaries of the UK are not open to dispute by neighbouring countries and are not the subject of recent boundary changes. The Dodecanese were not ceded to Greece until 1947. This is a very sensitive issue here, and quite rightly.

        Moreover, the fact that the UK has been stupid enough to push up London property prices by allowing billionaires (including crooks and criminals) to buy whatever they like, is no reason for others to do so. Nor is buying a property in London comparable with owning an island; this is so silly, I don’t think more needs to be said.

      • This is an empty comparison.

        The Greek constitution prohibits the sale of Greek territory as a means of transferring title to another country. If a private investor or a country using a consortium as a front decides to buy, for example, Kastellorizo then that is o.k. The could buy all the private land or the majority of the land which in either case would continue to be Greek territory subject to the Greek laws, sovereignty and the Greek EEZ(Exclusive Economic Zone).

        The fact that the emir of Qatar bought six uninhabited islands in the Ionian Sea or that a Russian oligarch bought Skorpios (The Onassis private island) it means nothing in terms of sovereignty for such islands. Their purchase contracts made such abundantly clear and such islands are neither Qatari or Russian territory.

        As far as Kastellorizo is concerned it is part of complex of 14 Greek islands nearby called the Megisti complex. Any real estate ownership changes on Kastellorizo would be irrelevant to the sovereignty of the whole island complex which is Greek anyway.

        This is a very naive thought that somehow changing the composition of real estate ownership on Greek islands it would translate to a “sale of an island”. This is more popular nonsense without any legal basis whatsoever. Such sale you are envisioning would have to pass Parliamentary approval. But how do you bring a bill to the Parliament floor for a vote on an illegal basis? What you are suggesting could never be done. But if someone wants to assemble land parcels in Kastellorizo from existing private owners then just go right ahead. There is nothing preventing such but involving the Greek state in such matters is pure nonsense.

      • Guest (xenos)

        Dean: if you an expert on international territory and the role of international law in property ownership in frontier zones and islands, then I will concede that you know more about it. In the case that you are not, and possibly even if you are, a more respectful and polite tone is appropriate.

        Since Turkey contests much of the Aegean shoreline, the ownership and occupation of individual islands could play a role in how that plays out. It is not a simple matter of territory definition as you claim: there is no clear definition. Similar situations pertain in other parts of the world, where physical presence is also seen as a vital component of the relative strengths of claims on the territory.

      • Xenos:

        Who told you that the ownership of the islands(say Kastellorizo) is in dispute?

        For your scheme to work out you need to have the state as the landlord subdividing property to tenants i.e. the island’s private owners. But since the territory is already in private hands it means that the state does not hold title to the physical space. Such belongs to private interests. Private interests could do whatever they wish with their private property: sell it, exchange it, mortgage it and the like. But the state has eminent domain on such properties as well as teritorial rights.

        And why do you bring Turkey into this? Who cares what Turkey wants? You mean we are going to have to change rules of 27 member states and the acquis communautaire because a middle eastern player has a different point of view? Since when?

        You are speaking nonsense again about disputes. No one takes such matters seriously. And you are building concepts on wrong foundations which makes you unsuitable for discussion.

      • Guest (xenos)

        I did not say that Kastellorizo is in dispute; I said the eastern Aegean coastline.

        And your ignorance of the situation is clear, when you refer to Turkey as “a Middle Eastern country”. First of all, its relationship to Greece is defined in international law by the treaties of Lasaunne and Ankara. This matters, because it precludes Greece from claiming its rights under the law of the sea over energy reserves.

        Secondly, Turkey has been associated with the EU for longer than Greece, and is currently with a very strong customs union and long-standing Association Agreement with some direct legal rights emanating from these. It is also a serious candidate for EU membership, blocked by Germany and France. Turkey is a regional player, even though not a full member of the EU.

        Thirdly, Turkey is a powerful regional player in the Middle East, and should not be dismissed lightly. This is neither to support nor to rejects its role and activities: I merely note them.

        With all of these issues, and Greece’s very weak position in the EU, it is absolutely preposterous to allow any more problems to occur that would impede Greece’s sovereignty in any way. Selling of islands is a stupid idea and cannot be defended. For once, I am with the Greek nationalists on this point.

      • Xenos:

        You are completely out of depth on these issues and I suggest you drop it before you embarrass yourself. But let me get you straight first on these non-issues you are raising.

        There is no dispute on any coastline, Aegean or otherwise. There is a difference of interpretation as to territorial waters whether 6 miles or 12 miles. Greece as a signatory to UNCLOS (United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea) and as a full European member (because all EU states are UNCLOS compliant) has no choice in the matter other than to follow International Law and European precedent. Under no circumstances Greece could “cut a special deal” with Turkey that would be contrary to the UNCLOS derived benefits of other EU states.

        The only way for Turkey to raise a claim is to go to European courts and adjudicate the issue against 28 or maybe 35 other EU states by the time Turkey gets into the EU. (if she ever gets there because in order to get in she needs the acceptance of the UNCLOS concept).

        As to your claim of regional power, Turkey is only a middle eastern regional power along with Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia which are the other accepted regional powers of her neighborhood. In the European neighborhood the regional powers are: UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Russia. Turkey has never been considered or would never be considered a regional power in the context of Europe. Such matters are determined by facts over which you have no license of loose interpretation. These are concrete facts.

        At the moment Greece has no reason to raise any issues with Turkey over Turkish fallacies because among other things Turkey is the number one export market for Greek products with Italy second and Germany third.

        BTW, it is you who raised the whole false issue by claiming that Greece sold islands to Qatar. Don’t you think that if Greece had done so we would have the island sale as the first item sold instead of OPAP? Yours was a completely false premise. The 6 islands sold were in private hands and were sold to a private new owner, the emir of Qatar. Greece had nothing to do with such sale and the emir now owns land within Greek territory. End of story. And then you brought up Kastellorizo having based the Qatar sale on the wrong premise. And now you are telling us that you are with Greek nationalists and other similar nonsense. What does all of your subsequent revisionism have anything to do with your initial false argument?

      • Guest (xenos)

        Dean: you have no idea of what you are talking about. I suggest you stop now, because you are the person with no background or expert knowledge of the situation. My own knowledge is constrained, but I know roughly where those constraints are. I have worked with the Greek Foreign Ministry and indirectly with Turkish authorities, because this is within my area of research interests.

        Please confine your comments to things that you are moderately competent in. And stop it with the personal insults too.

      • Guest (xenos)

        Incidentally, on a point about another country. This shows your level of ignorance, that you think the Emir of Qatar is not actually the Qatar state. You need to to learn something before you make these comments, because everything you write is obviously (and I mean really obviously) from a Greek-American business perspective. This is not to say that you have bad intentions, not at all, but your understanding of the world is very telescopic and specific. This probably works in the USA, but it is not an independent serious analysis.

      • Xenos:

        If I were to discuss these issues with someone, I would prefer to do it with Davutoglou himself rather than a borderless LaLa-land advocate of illegal imigration issues who by the way should be the last person to have a say on matters of Greek island sales for the comfort of his illegal “clients”.

        And on this particular issue I happen to know a great deal and way much more than I could reveal in public space.

        And I don’t care if the “emir” and the “qatar” are one and the same thing. The fact remains that if the emir breaks the law in Greek soil we will haul his ass in jail. This means that “qatar” too will join him in the same cell, if the emir wishes prison company that is.

    • BTW, Xenos:

      Let me get this straight. You are trying to establish authority in this conversation by saying that you have contacts with Greek Foreign Ministry and Turkish authorities(whatever that means). So you mean to tell me that you have an agenda similar to this guy in this video and you have something to talk to states about that is interesting to them?

      Because this video message is the biggest nonsense I have ever heard. And you have the nerve to suggest that Greece ought to sell Kastellorizo? Whose agenda are you promoting? You want to become a conduit of facilitation for “poor” Afghanistan and Syrian refugees?

      Don’t you know how the game is played? All illegals crossing the Greek-Turkish border “claim” to be from either from Afghanistan or Syria because such gives them protected status as war refugees. Such pseudo-migrants destroy all identification papers on purpose before crossing and then show up at the first Greek police station and claim that they are war refugees without papers to prove it.

      And you are an enabler of such? and you want Greece to sell Kastellorizo to Turkey? are you nuts?

      ( I will withhold the video for now, but one wrong step from you and you will be embarrassed. So your move but be very careful because I am in no mood for nonsense). I strongly suggest for you to look up how this conversation started. You made the false representation of “look they are now selling all the islands to qatar”. Your words, not mine. So, either take your falsehood back or you will regret it.

      • Guest (xenos)

        Dean: just fuck off. Your childish threats have no meaning. I have no idea what you are talking aboujt, what video you are referring to and various other pieces of malakies. I told you that there are issues between Greece and Turkey, and aspects of international law that clearly you have no grasp of. Yet you start citing international law at me, as if you know anything about it.

        And don’t start trying to teach me about my own area of professional expertise about the Greek-Turkish border. Are you stupid?

        As far as your nonsense is concerned, I suggest you seek psychiatric counselling. I am the wrong person to threaten, since there is nothing to threaten me with. Your behaviour is disgusting, and that is the only issue here. If you continue, I shall make a formal request for you to be banned from any blogs where I participate – citing your threats. This is apparently not the first time you have threatened people, as Rosemary has stated. I will also have no hesitation in calling in police agencies of the EU or USA. I advise you to stop forthwith.

      • Xenos:

        I didn’t know that Nick allows such language in his blog.

        As far as the video is concerned, it’s public information. If you want to analyze it for us go right ahead because I can’t understand a word this guy is saying. It comes across as anti-state, anti-Greek government and a bunch of other truly disturbing things.

        Do you want to maintain the position of selling Kastellorizo? because I want to know which of your contacts in the Greek government is supporting it? Who in the Greek Foreign Ministry planted the idea in your mind that Kastellorizo is for sale?

  6. Xenos, you don’t understand when you close your eyes by design. When Greece went in for bailout, the issue of privatization (Greece was 20 years behind already) was effectively removed from the Greek peoples’ decision making process. Surely that’s horrible for a real democracy but your previous economic (and other) policies took you to a dead end. Case closed. Now just convince us that the people who feed you your close-minded anti-private-sector ideological direction would not/not use state control of every enterprise they could possibly take over to appoint their cronies and continue ripping off the Greek state and taxpayer. Why are your ideological comrades somehow smarter or better? Abuse of state power is the problem in Greece, considering how rarely the effective “rule of law” comes into play in Greece’s so-called “democracy.’

    • Technically you are correct as to the decision making process. However, real estate which happens to be the power card of raising revenue for the Greek government obeys also some international rules of supply and demand. The real estate asset with the highest potential for revenue generation via a sale is the old airport (Hellenikon). Really a fantastic piece of real estate in close proximity to some of the highest income neighborhoods in Attika. From this asset alone Greece could generate upwards of 20 Bil. euros but it has to be done right. Master planned first at the highest level and and then sold out piecemeal to asset type specialists (i.e. retail developers, office developers, housing developers and so on and so forth) with an eye of creating synergy from one sale transferable to the next (force multiplier approach).

      The chances of attracting a single player paying the targeted price of 5 bil. euros is fraught with danger because: a) most buyers today are opportunistic i.e. low ballers and b). the carrying costs of such single large holding will tend to diminish the Net Present Value of what someone is willing to pay for it today. Greece needs to abandon trying to attract Middle Eastern money sources (most unsuitable for this task) such as Qatar and instead turn to sophisticated developers either domestic or western based. Therefore the approach and not the sales target is to be blamed. It’s one thing to say I have to sell because I must sell. The whole art is how you do it and how you could create intelligent solutions producing highest and best value.

      • I agree with you one hundred percent, it should be split for Greece to benefit price wise, I also consider Western based investors should be encouraged as this cries out for investment from tourist concerns. We have spent so much on developing the coast which is most attractive especially with the tram service and I could weep for the Greek busineses that invested so heavily in Glyfada which has a bustling shopping area, good restaurants and cafe’s and has suffered considerably from the lack of tourism in Attika. At the same time development will go ahead in the area at the bottom of Syngrou, but like you say it has to be handled competently.

      • Yes Ann, you are talking about the Falliron development in the vicinity of the old horse race track. There is a nice model already developed for it. But I heard that even though they were planning some state-of-the-art docking facilities for the latest version of large cruise ships, the unions want this to happen in the crowded port of Piraeus instead. This makes no sense to me: to mix a large commercial harbor with the cruise business where first impressions is everything. After a long sea voyage coming to a port is a huge impression factor for the entire trip experience. And Falliron is a much better place to disembark.

    • Guest (xenos)

      I don’t even concede the correctness of the description of the decision making process. There was no political debate in Greece, no involvement of course of the society, and it was Papandreou who opted to go begging for a bailout. The evidence suggests that he was taking instructions from outside Greece, for personal political and perhaps financial reasons. (And, of course, I do not need to name the principal country that was involved in that)

      The analogy could be with how the extreme right in the USA took the country into an illegal invasion of Iraq, thinking that they could make billions out of the oil industry and make massive personal profits as well as playing political games to look good. They too failed to act in their country’s interests, although the money stolen by these crooks is considerable. Nevertheless, I would never accuse US citizens of having chosen to invade Iraq, and you have no right to accuse Greece of having opted for a bailout. It was a few politicians, who abused their position of power.

    • Guest (xenos)

      You seem to be another right wing troll here (maybe you are a former one in a new guise). Also, you attribute a political position and views to me that are incorrect. Just stop that.

      • No Xenos, Not at all right wing unless you call a belief in market economics something other than the center of the political spectrum. Seems you do, thus any privatization is bad, let alone an asset in the sacred sector of lotteries. I guess you’d also desire to screen future foreign investment based on only one thing, job creation. Next time we hear from you I suppose we will get the argument about the need for OSI for Greece, since everyone simply has to forgive Greece’s official debt while structural reforms should be frozen if you don’t like them (especially the free market ones). Why take up this article to preach your “markets can do no good” rhetoric?

        I suppose you believe Greece could have made it through 2010 without the Troika too?

        Seems you are based in the UK. Instead of blasting Greece’s slow progress on reform, an idea for you….why don’t you monitor Greek real estate purchases there, report it to the UK and Greek tax authorities, as well as informing the media. Perhaps you could do something about those cronies and their henchmen/relatives/offshores.

      • Guest (xenos)

        “Eyes and ears”: I have no idea what you are talking about. All of your “facts” — including comments on my location and my beliefs about economics — are completely wrong. I do wonder what possesses people to write such rubbish on the web.

        And no, I do not reject market economics. Like most educated and intelligent people I demand that the failings of markets are understood, and that public policy respects the limits that markets should be given. That is in constract to the neoliberal dogma that has been pushed by rich elites for three decades — so I understand that you are probably just a victim of that propaganda.

        Privatisation is a transfer of assets from the public to the private sector: the reasons for doing so need to be clear, and the exact mechanism for doing so has to be justified. In the case of those for Greece, I have already stated my clear opinion, which is more or less consistent with that of Klaus. The policy is being imposed on Greece for very bad (fiscal) reasons, and is supported by persons and countries who want to make a lot of money out of it. This is not in the interests of the ordinary citizens of Greece.

  7. Yes Dean, Piraeus is like most ports pretty tacky in parts
    whereas Faliron would also give them a direct route for coaches to some of our luxary beach hotels and if they are the 24 hr stop-over cruise ships straight up Syngrou to the Acropolis.

  8. Pingback: Grecia regala las loterías, uno de sus negocio mas rentables, a un oscuro magnate relacionado con Samaras. | Todos Somos Griegos

  9. Guest (xenos)

    @Nick Malkoutzis
    If you would kindly remove the videolink placed here, which is about European funding schemes for employment creation across the Mediterranean and was an interview requested of me by the Government of Cyprus in a meeting of the EU Presidency. Plassaras has no business putting it here, as it has nothing to do with the topic and is not particularly interesting anyway.

    Moreover, please consider banning him for repeatedly threatening people in their personal and professional lives, in order to win his spurious arguments. i am extremely angry that he attributes positions to me that are libellous and obviously I do not hold. I made it very clear above that I am against the selling of any Greek islands and why: he is twisting my words to try to imply the opposite. This is a very dirty way to behave — like a gutter politician. (He also tried this trick recently with me on Varoufakis’ blog)

    On the actual content of your blog, please keep up the good work. There seem to be too many loonies commenting everywhere, though..

  10. Glad, Xenos, that market economics are acceptable to you, because the Troika really isn’t leaving that open for discussion.

    We have gotten so far off the privatization debate that it seems unproductive to continue. I don’t know Dean P, but I hate name calling beyond a bit of labeling political ideologies…that’s always fine.

    • Speaking of getting back on the privatization debate, I think the next best target for Greece is the sale of its stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE).

      ELPE, based on recent improvements and expansion in the capacity of its Elefsina and Thessaloniki refinery plants, it has become a dominant player in the diesel/gas oil market. Its business with Turkey, Italy and Iberia are booming and it is one of the few companies that is no longer dependent on the Greek market alone(where it already has a dominant presence) and finds itself in a unique position of delivering value propositions in the SSE/East Med markets.

      • Guest (xenos)

        No, the topic now is your disgusting behaviour. You will not divert attention away from it. Similar complaints have been made about you by others, but you refuse to correct your conduct.

  11. Estevao Veiga

    Xenos apparently is all for democracy and free speech, as long as he is the only one speaking.
    When everybody else is a loonies, I personally will start to doubt my own sanity.

    • Guest (xenos)

      YOU are a lying troll. When your name is revealed, and professional attacks made against you (if you have a profession) along with allegations that you are acting against the interests of the country that you reside in, then perhaps you have a right to comment.

      I am still waiting for a reply from Nick Malkoutzis, since this sort of harrassment is unacceptable. And I suggest that you ask the other commenters here what they think about Dean Plassaras: they have already told us, but perhaps you have conveniently forgotten.

      • Actually I think it would be a real pity to get rid of Dean Plassaras, who is first of all a real person, secondly has real business knowledge – which few do on this blog – and third has been involved in important activity here in Greece at high level. He also has a personality and is at least truthful. Contributions from Dean are informative and fun.

        Only the trolls complain about him.

        As you know Xenos, most contributors on the english language greek news blogs are trolls with nothing to say except run down Greece. Since most foreign visitors to greek websites don’t speak greek, this garbage is what they read instead….which supposedly represents greek & “concerned outsider” opinion.

      • Guest (xenos)

        elenits, I disagree. But since the blog owner has not responded to my request for removal of the video, I will not be commenting here again. Plassaras is free to pursue his monopolistic approach to economic debate.

        I should also mention that I have had bad experiences in the past with Kathimerini, with stolen and plagiarised material from me even appearing on the front page. Their attitude is arrogant and complacent.

      • Well it is certainly not the Kathimerini of Eleni Vlachou that is for sure.

        If you read the greek edition of the newspapers the comments are much more interesting and troll free. The trolls concentrate on the english language greek press on the off chance that other foreigners will read it.
        Meanwhile Ta Nea and Elefthyrotypia have english language sites now – the latter is especially good.

      • Elenits:

        Your observation is supported by actual stats. It seems as though all indicators are down on eKathimerini. With a brief period of excitement in mid March (maybe Cyprus?) there is now less traffic and loss of interest:

        http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/ekathimerini.com

  12. This subject’s comment stream has gotten so twisted, so warped, and so downright nasty that not even the cabal at Reform Watch Greece can support continued participation. Dean Plassaras tried to keep it on track, but it has unfortunately continued to degrade. We’ll be back, in one form or another. We’re not going anywhere…..Trolls beware.

    • Estevão Veiga

      @Xenos
      May I bring to your attention that when you defend the Socialist Labor Party ideology, who got less than 0.1% of the votes in the last elections, in an open platform it is quite understandable that you feel lonely?
      And second remark, if Cyprus really hired you as an advisor, it makes easier to understand why they went broke.

  13. This is the best asset held by the state for creating value in the future. Instead of seeking one player for a single sale around 5 Bil. euros for the entire land package, Greece could create at least 4 times higher value through intelligent master planning and individual subdivision sales to specialists in a manner supporting highest and best value(synergetic components):

    http://www.hradf.com/en/real-estate/hellinikon

  14. Pingback: Grecia regala las loterías, uno de sus negocios mas rentables, a un oscuro magnate relacionado con Samaras. | Todos somos griegos

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