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2 March 2012

The Greek economy

Why is Greece so dependent on other people’s money? Megan Greene of Roubini Global Economics provides us with a remarkable case study. She begins with a straightforward description of the Greek economic system:

  • “Entire professions such as notaries, lawyers, tax men, architects and inspectors have for years had automatic income in that they have formed the layers of bureaucracy involved in doing business in Greece. At least half of the MPs in Greek parliament hail from these industries…”

Then she provides an example of what this means in practice. Sitting down in a café in an Athens bookstore, she orders a coffee – only for the waitress to head straight out the front door:

  • “My friend explained that the owner of the bookstore/café couldn’t get a license to provide coffee… Instead, the owner had to strike a deal with a bar across the street, whereby they make the coffee and the waitress spends all day shuttling between the bar and the bookstore/café. My friend also explained to me that books could not be purchased at the bookstore, as it was after 18h and it is illegal to sell books in Greece beyond that hour. I was in a bookstore/café that could neither sell books nor make coffee.”


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