Παρασκευή, 17 Σεπτεμβρίου 2010

Why You'd Be a Fool to Invest in Greece


This letter is a warning to anyone who might even remotely consider the possibility of investing in Greece. Its actual intent is, of course, not to merely lambast to government for the things that are so wrong here, or to let everyone know how bad a country we are, but rather to start a discussion on the priorities the government should set in addressing these problems and on some potential solutions to them. So, here goes:


Dear Investor,

our Prime Minister is declaring that our country is going to enter in a glorious path of growth (sometimes qualified as "green growth") under his administration. So you might be entertaining the idea that you should be a part of this great growth and flourish yourself. Not so fast. As things stand today, you'd really be a fool to invest in Greece. Here are some of the reasons:

Red tape: lots of red tape. Permits, licenses, regulations, the omnipresent Archaeological Service, all these can take up at least 5-8 years of your time before you even started the investment. And, of course, you'll have a multitude of bureaucratic layers facing you (or springing out of nowhere) every step of the way.
Corruption: abiding by the regulations? This will probably be only for the bureaucrat involved to judge. You might have to do him some favors - monetary or others. You might get to see your competition solve their own problems miraculously and be tempted to imitate them.
Litigation: do you think you have been wronged by the government? Any dispute will take at least 8 years to resolve. In the meanwhile, you will be in limbo.
Litigation (2): concerned or "concerned" citizens will probably try to annul some or all of your permits, most likely on environmental grounds. The chances are that, even after you have proceeded with the investment, with the government's blessing, no less, the Council of State (the Supreme Administrative Court) will rule that the laws, in accordance to which your permits were granted, are harmful to the environment - so that everything you have spent so far will have been for nothing.
Taxes: be prepared to be taxed every step of the way. And, in the unlikely event that you turn out a profit, expect the government to impose an extraordinary taxation on profits.
State monopolies: energy, oil refineries, etc. - they are, for the most part, government monopolies. Do not be surprised if, one day, the prices charged for these services suddenly spike.
Labor costs: be prepared to spend for every employee you have at least 60% above their salary for employer's contributions to the Social Security System. Plus, it would be virtually impossible to readjust salaries, in the event of a downturn of your business.
Labor relations: you can hire, but you cannot fire. Union leaders cannot be fired. If you fire someone else, they may claim abuse of right and have the termination voided by a Court (two to three years after the dismissal); you will have to pay back salaries for the meantime.
Protective overregulation of several sectors of the economy: transfers, by ship or by road, for example. Most probably you will not even be able to obtain a permit in the first place.
No public order: it is very possible that a militant union might illegally block your factory or your yard or enter into your stores. Don't count on the Police to help - don't count on the Courts for any compensation.

Still want to invest? If so, I pity the fool.

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