Joseph Mariathasan: Can the private sector provide salvation for Greece?

first_imgWhy is the private sector in Greece still so underdeveloped? Yannos Hadjiioannou, a partner at London-based private equity and advisory firm Archipelago Investment Partners, argues that the Greek private sector has a share of the responsibility. In the good years prior to and following Greece’s accession to the single currency, a number of companies raised huge amounts of cash by floating on the stock market. A substantial part of that never got reinvested back in the economy. It showed a lack of discipline, he argues, resulting from the fact most of the enterprises are family businesses that were never that outwardly focused and had never reached out further than the Balkans.The contrast between the private sector in Greece and Germany’s mittelstand, the hugely successful SMEs that have provided the backbone to Germany’s economic success, is striking. Another telling comparison, says Hadjiioannou, and a great business case study is the SME space in Italy’s north, which has gone through various transformations from embroidery to car parts, retaining the strong links and support between them. Perhaps the EU should focus less on austerity for Greece and more on how the frameworks that support the mittelstand in Germany and the SME space in Italy can be encouraged in Greece.A key element for Germany is the decentralised banking system, with entities such as sparkassen (mutual savings banks) and volksbanken (cooperative banks), whose key asset is being near to local mittelstand clients. In contrast, the private sector in Greece is faced with a small number of major Greek banks with balance sheets destroyed by non-performing loans, which would need to be written off and the banks recapitalised before any new lending could hope to occur.Apart from agriculture, its strengths are clearly in tourism and shipping, but its educated workforce does open up opportunities even in leading edge technologies. For example, Greece has set up an incubator, Corallia, for high-tech startups specialising in microelectronics, biotechnology, telecommunication networks and space, which has attracted interest from venture capitalists in Europe and the US. Where the clearest opportunities may lie, though, are in exploiting its great strengths much further.Perhaps more tragically, the future of any country lies in its youth, and with a youth unemployment rate hovering around 50%, the danger for Greece is that its most valuable exports may be its educated young people. That may be acceptable for a US state, where depopulating Montana or even Puerto Rico as people seek work in California is nothing to worry about. But, for small countries within the EU, losing their most productive young workers to emigration is not a pleasant prospect. That is why developing a vibrant private sector should be a priority for Greece. If the EU can help to achieve that, it would be proof, indeed, that it is a community and not just a trading block. The UK never required that from the EU, but that is another story.Joseph Mariathasan is a contributing editor at IPE Developing the private sector should be a priority if Greece wishes to retain its young educated citizens, write Joseph MariathasanThe UK may be on a path towards Brexit, but the rest of the European Union (EU) has yet to resolve the underlying tensions that still threaten to tear it apart. Is the EU a community of states or just a trade organisation structured to stimulate demand in favour of the stronger economies? That existential question can provoke much discussion, but the relationship between the EU and Greece in the years ahead may provide the real answer. Whilst 52% of those voting in the UK referendum decided on leaving, it looks unlikely that a majority in Greece would vote to do so, despite the burdens of being stuck inside the euro-zone.Greece in many ways is very different from the rest of the EU, not least because, having been under the Ottoman Empire for 400 years, it missed out on the beginnings of the industrial revolution that swept through Western Europe. It still has a lot of catching up to do, particularly in the creation of a private sector that generates wealth and employment, which is why its relationship with the rest of the EU is so crucial.Remaining within the EU is an existential issue for Greece, even if remaining within the euro-zone may not be. The majority of the Greek population appears to be committed to remaining within the EU, but, as the Syriza government’s relations with the EU become more fractious with each debt-repayment crisis and greater austerity, the future looks increasingly gloomy.last_img read more

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Football News Lionel Messi scores ‘monstrous’ 400th goal, Barcelona extend advantage in La Liga

first_img For all the Latest Sports News News, Football News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps. Madrid: Lionel Messi scored his 400th La Liga goal, a total his coach Ernesto Valverde called “monstrous”, as Barcelona terrorised Eibar to reclaim their five-point cushion at the top of the table. Messi drove the ball into the bottom corner after being teed up by Luis Suarez, who added two goals to his own tally either side of the Argentinian marking another historic record at the Camp Nou on Sunday. “It’s monstrous,” said Valverde, after the 3-0 victory. “It’s easy to say but you have to score them one after the other, it’s a long-term job.”His numbers are stratospheric, incredible. He is from another galaxy.” Victory saw Valverde’s side restore their advantage over Atletico Madrid, who had briefly cut the gap to two points after beating Levante earlier in the day. “There is a lot of time left,” Valverde said. “It is a good cushion but nothing is done yet.”      Real Madrid won too, beating Real Betis, to ensure Spain’s big three all prevailed in the same round for only the fourth time this season. Real remain 10 points adrift of Barcelona. Messi, meanwhile, extends his own hefty lead as the division’s all-time top scorer, which currently stands at 89 goals, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo, now at Juventus in Italy, owns a better goals-to-game ratio, with his 311 strikes coming in 292 matches. Messi’s quadruple century arrived in his 435th.       Read More | Watch video: UAE man locks up Indian football supporters in bird cageIn fact, it was one of Messi’s quieter nights in terms of performance and in another team it might have been Suarez or Philippe Coutinho picking up the plaudits. Suarez assisted Messi, applied a classy finish and was on the end of a scintillating team move for Barca’s first.    Sparkling Coutinho display        Coutinho was the provider for that one and delivered a sparkling display to appease those doubting his future at the club. The Brazilian has endured a spell out of Valverde’s preferred starting line-up but he converted a penalty against Levante in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, and was arguably man of the match here.Read More | Real Madrid fall 10 points behind Barcelona after shock defeatHe alone supplied three passes in the build-up to Suarez’s opener. Arthur Melo started it, playing a one-two with Coutinho and then into the feet of Sergio Busquets. Busquets pinged the ball left to Coutinho, who twice exchanged with Suarez before the Uruguayan, off balance, found the far corner. Messi’s moment came in the 53rd minute and it was Suarez who started it, stealing back possession after a heavy touch from Anaitz Arbilla. He bounced it off Coutinho and found Messi, who touched and rifled in.  Barca were enjoying themselves as Coutinho flicked the ball over one opponent’s head and Suarez did the same through another’s legs. The third goal was simple, however, Sergi Roberto taking a quick throw and freeing the scuttling Suarez. With the goalkeeper out, he looked up and chipped the ball into the net.          Griezmann fires Atletico to win               The pressure had been cranked up a notch after Antoine Griezmann’s second-half penalty earned Atletico a 1-0 victory over Levante. Griezmann has now scored all of Atletico’s last six goals and his latest one proved the difference in a cagey contest at the Wanda Metropolitano. “We all pull the cart in difficult moments,” Griezmann said. “I cannot do anything without my team-mates.” The pressure has been on Real Madrid all season but they battled to a 2-1 win over Betis for their first league victory of 2019. Luka Modric sent a thunderous shot into the top corner but Betis were in the ascendancy after Sergio Canales poked in a second-half equaliser.          Marcelo had been dropped by Santiago Solari, Karim Benzema taken off with a dislocated finger and Isco remained on the bench, watching three youngsters sent on ahead of him. Ceballos, who left Betis for Madrid two years ago, was one of them.           With a free-kick on the edge of the area and goalkeeper Pau Lopez leaving his left-hand corner open, Ceballos duly sent a dipping shot into the gap to snatch a dramatic win. “It was an emotional moment for him,” Solari said. “A former player doing damage, football creates this kind of magic.”   last_img read more

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