Hardouvelis eyes bourse gains

Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis expressed on Friday optimism that 2015 will bring considerable gains for the Greek stock market if the country remains committed to consistency and stability. However, he warned that forfeiting obligations will mean a eurozone exit.

Addressing the Greek stock exchange’s first trading session of the year at Athinon Avenue, Hardouvelis stressed that “the voices who claim the country will not pay up are leading to a loss of trust,” while explaining the differences between the outgoing government’s plan and that of the opposition SYRIZA party.

The country will have to pay its dues to stay in the eurozone because “we can’t remain in the eurozone while failing to fulfill our obligations. Our partners, who supported us and lent us money in that difficult period, have demands and we will fulfill our obligations. There are some out-of-control voices that say, ‘I will not pay interest, I will not do this or that,’ but that means losing our reliability and that is not good for anyone,” said the minister.

He noted that the European Central Bank has lent Greek banks some 45 billion euros to cover the gap between deposits, which dropped two years ago, and loans. “Therefore Greece depends not only on the loans they have given us to support our expenditure in the past, but also on the borrowing of our banks because there was no domestic money,” he explained.

However, he went on to say that “the stock market has already priced in the delay in the economy, and in three weeks from now this uncertainty will end, and I hope everything will be alright. I think we will see the Athens market soar, leading not just to the coverage of losses but also to major gains.”

The head of the Hellenic Bank Association, Giorgos Zannias, noted that the economy’s financing had been frozen by the local credit sector due to the political developments, and said Greece has made much greater sacrifices than countries such as Portugal and Ireland but remains in a much worse state in terms of market access and risk assessment.