The Executive Editor of the Kathimerini formulated a sensational phrase in a commentary dated October 28: “Maybe at the end of the day the problem will be that you as a people (the Germans) have found the perfect model for productivity, and we have found the perfect model for living (albeit funded by others)”.
Here, with only a few words, the issue of what the Greek problem is all about is better described than anywhere else I have seen yet! Yes, foreigners visiting and/or living in Greece over the years have probably, at one time or another, concluded that Greeks must have found the perfect model for living. Greeks, of course, knew that all the time without needing to be told by foreigners. What Greeks are now slowly finding out is that their perfect model of living was funded by others.
What the “others” will slowly find out is that there were benefits to be had from funding the perfect Greek model of living. Bear in mind that when Hugh Hefner throws a big party, a lot of suppliers take good profit from it. Provided that Mr. Hefner pays his bills, of course. When Mr. Hefner stops paying his bills, they will sooner or later cease supplying his party even if that means a down-turn in their own business.
One despairs that the great political and economic minds of Europe can only think in terms of either/or alternatives: either the perfect model for living funded by others or no party at all. This is the “mistake of the century!” Greece can have both, the perfect model for living and funding much of it on her own.
All Greece needs to do is to attract foreign investment so that a good portion of the standard of living which she has imported in the past is generated domestically going forward (and by Greeks themselves). Such foreign investment, which should initially aim primarily at import substitution, would create new employment, new personal incomes, new personal income taxes and new corporate taxes from profitable investments. And it is actually quite easy to attract foreign investment. One only has to ask potential foreign investors what they desire to have by way of economic framework and incentives; put it into an Investment Law; have the EU guarantee compliance with this Investment Law (because foreign investors may no longer trust Greeks to keep their laws) and — get started with the first projects.
On a timeline: a new Investment Law could be implemented within, say, 3 months; the first investments could get started within 6 months; the first results would show within 12 months.
Will foreign investment immediately bring the billions and billions of EUR which Greece needs? No, it won’t; certainly not immediately and probably not ever. But first of all it will bring know-how which Greece desperately needs. And then it will bring new spirits. Greece cannot come out from under her present mess in a few months or a couple of years. This is a project for a generation. But Greece can very quickly reach a situation where a positive future perspective becomes apparent. And that is really all that is needed for Greeks at this time — a positive future perspective!