Vikings in Greece: Kleptocratic Interest Groups in a Closed, Rent Seeking Economy

Νοέ 13th, 2009 | , | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα, Επιστήμες, Οικονομικά, Πολιτική

Last December, downtown Athens experienced three nights of street battles, arson and looting that became headlines in the international press. We argue that the reasons for this extreme social turbulence are related to the regulatory and institutional rigidities that still prevail in Greece’s economy in spite of the strong growth that it enjoyed till recently and which was as a result of specific factors that can be identified. Furthermore we describe the pattern of state intervention, institutional sclerosis and high administrative costs that secure and allocate rents to interests groups which obstruct all efforts to reduce these rents and to open up the economy. In particular, we argue that these, numerous, rent seeking groups curtail competition in the product and services markets, increase red tape and administrative burdens and actively seek to establish opacity in all administrative and legal processes in order to form an environment in which they will be able to increase the rents they extract.

‘Spend! Spend! Spend!’ has been the Government’s policy from the start

Σεπ 20th, 2008 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα, Πολιτική

While listening to the speech and the press-conference given by Prime Minister Karamanlis in Thessaloniki on 7 and 8 September, this columnist had a distinct sense of not just deja vu but also of deja entendu and deja debattu. The Premier was clear, direct and decisive but hardly original. He even admitted that his Government’s record was poor in certain areas without, however, dwelling on the causes of such failures. The articulate, outspoken party of young hopefuls who make up the ‘Liberal Alliance’ (Filelephtheri Symmachia) hit the nail on the head in commenting on Karamanlis’ performance. Why is it, they ask, that the expenses of the state will reach 49.55 billion euros in 2008, thus marking an increase of 10.5% on the year 2007? The average annual increase of these expenses since 2002 has been 10.91%. So why is it that continuity of governance that is lacking in so many areas in Greece should be so consistent especially in the field of government waste? The sad truth is that under Karamanlis, the state never had it so good and never spent so much.

Like cancer, corruption can be controlled if not totally eliminated

Ιούλ 3rd, 2008 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα, Πολιτική

The ‘Siemens’ affair has at long last convinced many Greeks, including politicians, to look afresh at the way political parties raise money in Greece. The existing situation borders on the insane. According to Law 3023 which was published in the ‘Official Gazette’ No 146 on the 25th of June 2002, the State covers the running costs of all the parliamentary parties and also the extra ones incurred during elections. The law goes into incredible detail about who gets what, how much, when and also precisely how this is checked and cross-checked every step of the way. Special state funds are provided for the research and educational activities of the party. Of especial interest is article 7 that forbids any financing of Greek political parties by persons who don’t hold Greek citizenship; legal persons (i.e. corporations) either public or private; Local Government authorities; and owners of national newspapers or radio and TV stations

Time for the ‘pay-as-you-go’ system … to go

Μαρ 27th, 2008 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα, Πολιτική

A new political party argues in favour of a funded pension system whereby’every Greek citizen will be obliged to deposit in a special type of bankaccount or insurance corporation their contributions towards a pension duringtheir working career. The amounts thus deposited belong to the insured person or their heirs in the case of early death’ […]

Modern Greece: Decadence Unbound

Μαρ 9th, 2008 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα

by Napoleon Linardatos1 The Egnatia Motorway across the north of Greece is one of the ‘largest road construction projects in Europe’. Six hundred and eighty kilometers long and 24.5 meters wide, it requires the construction of 1,650 bridges, 74 tunnels, 50 interchanges, 43 river and 11 railway crossings. A modern Greek marvel in the making […]

Greek Pseudo-Privatization

Δεκ 28th, 2007 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα, Πολιτική

by Takis Michas1 ,2 Given the country’s statist tradition, it is no surprise that even Greece’s nominally conservative Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis has never been a fervent free-market advocate. After five years in power, the government has so far managed only a single full-scale privatization. All public utilities, for example, are still state-run. A recent […]

The Little Envelope

Σεπ 11th, 2007 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα, Πολιτική

by Takis Michas1 ,2 As Greece is going to the polls this Sunday, the recent wildfires understandably preoccupy the public. Sixty-six people were killed and over 200,000 hectares of land destroyed in the worst forest fires in nearly a century. But the debate over whether conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis mishandled the crisis has also […]

Atatürk’s children vs. Muhammed’s followers

Ιούλ 7th, 2007 | | Κατηγορία: English, Κόσμος, Πολιτική

by Zeynep Pelin Ataman As a Turkish citizen living abroad, just two weeks before the elections in Turkey, I am particularly concerned with understanding Turkish politicians and my compatriots’ behavior. From the beginning of this election process, unfortunately, I observe the syndrome of a traumatized society! For many of us, these could be healthy contractions […]

Marketing concept, a bless or a curse?

Δεκ 21st, 2006 | | Κατηγορία: English, Οικονομικά

By Christos Mantas Marketing, with its daily presence in the life of the consumers, has been object of criticism. The traditional marketing is examining the needs of the consumers and helps the firms to produce products or services that will satisfy these needs. This production will make profits for the companies, which are paying salaries […]

Images and Realities and the Baltic States

Νοέ 27th, 2006 | | Κατηγορία: English, Κόσμος

By Dimitrios Giannakopoulos Science without philosophical view is just a technique (The echo of an imagined scientific-community at the beginning of 21st century) The second half of the 20th century, in the West, seems to be characterized as the reign of the disciplinarian orthodoxy in the humanitarian sciences. The scientific boundaries among the most scholars […]

Cyprus Decides, Greece Follows

Νοέ 8th, 2006 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα, Κόσμος

Published in The Wall Street Journal Europe November 6, 2006 By Takis Michas Greece faces a serious foreign policy dilemma. On the one hand, Athens supports Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. On the other hand, it also supports, officially at least, the policies of the Greek Cypriot leadership. Thus Greece may inadvertently end […]


Νοέ 7th, 2005 | | Κατηγορία: English, Πολιτική

The British monthly journal Prospect recently presented its readers with a list of well-known intellectuals and asked them to pick Number One.The list included Christopher Hitchens, Niall Ferguson, Daniel Dennet, Umberto Eco, Bernard Lewis and so on. But the voters picked the American linguist and social critic Noam Chomsky.

Little surprise there. In Europe these days, the most politicized part of the public is the “hard” Left. And Mr. Chomsky is its hero. On the other side of the Atlantic and on the other side of the ideological spectrum, his “victory” in the race to be the leading intellectual of our times is certain to be met with howls of derision…


Ιούν 25th, 2005 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα

1. The Blasphemy that Never Was: Setting the Stage

What most people know about Athens can be summarised in pictures that look like this, where the all-times classic 150 –tall rock of the Athens Acropolis is in the centre of a sea of lowrise concrete blocks between 3 to 10- storey buildings:

-The Acropolis seen from Lycabettus Hill (height: 270m) looking south:

Europe’s Last Marxist State

Μάι 18th, 2005 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα

ATHENS — Just over a year ago the conservative New Democracy party was swept into power in Greece, ending the Socialists’ almost uninterrupted 24-year run in office. Since then, little has changed.

New Democracy last March won a sizeable majority, and a mandate, to take on the country’s immense economic problems, claiming 165 seats in the 300-seat legislature. Greece suffers from a public deficit of over 6%, double-digit unemployment, a large and corrupt public sector and a totally dysfunctional incentive structure. High social security contributions and restrictive labor laws prevent businesses from hiring new workers. A myriad of regulations and red tape discourages businessmen from setting up new enterprises — as does rampant corruption.


Μάι 26th, 2004 | | Κατηγορία: English, Κόσμος

The democratic deficit, as evidenced in the European Union even today, was the result of interplay between two different forces tugging the Member States in opposite directions. J.H.H. Weiler, in his essay “The Transformation of Europe” successfully applies A. Hirschman’s ideas of Exit and Voice, in order to explain this evolution.


Μαρ 15th, 2004 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα, Πολιτική

Minister Giannakou and her Deputy Taliadouros are clearly liberal politicians. They do have the great opportunity to follow new liberal lines reforming our traditional statist educational system. Wendy is an excellent expert of marketizing and privatizing the educational system in USA. Some ideas would be very fruitful for moving on our educational system. Private schools […]


Μαρ 10th, 2004 | | Κατηγορία: English, Ελλάδα, Πολιτική

New Democracy, the Greek Conservative Party, supports very reactionary social and political currents. For example Church is the big problem in Greece. Greek Orthodox Church insists for our religion stigma to be written in our official civilian identifications cards. Church wants to control directly or implicitly our beliefs. As well we pay taxes for the […]


Φεβ 15th, 2004 | | Κατηγορία: English, Επιστήμες

Is new technology giving birth to new sports? Some would say that we are already there. By most definitions, video gaming is already a sport. The top gamers form teams, compete in leagues, hire full-time coaches, who teach strategy and give other gaming tips, and adopt strict training regimens. There is even a growing fan […]


Σεπ 30th, 2003 | | Κατηγορία: English, Κόσμος

The fall of 405 B.C., when the holy-ship Paralos informed the Athenians about the disaster at Aigos Potamous by the Spartan navy, did not only mark the end of one more war of the dozen wars the ancient Greek world faced in its long history but also the end of the Athenian struggle for the establishment of a broad rule. It was the first attempt of a democratic state (judging by those days standards) to organize an extended rule and it is a fact that Athenian imperialism was characterized by qualities that made it different than any imperial rule that preceded or succeeded (Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans etc).