ECONOMY

Greeks are still risk shy

Greek investors are more pessimistic than their European counterparts, preferring low-risk investment strategies, as local players remained cautious on the Athens bourse despite signs the market’s extended slide had come to an end, a recent research report said. Nearly 10 percent of Greek investors said they had invested in the Athens bourse in spring 2003, a percentage that had remained unchanged up until last November, as investors failed to shake off nerves from the market’s three-year slide. The Athens bourse’s benchmark general index had recorded strong year-to-date gains in November 2003 and went on to finish the year up 30 percent. The research report was conducted by GfK Market Analysis in the second half of November last year. Investor profiles recorded by the research report in Greece varied depending on the education level of those questioned and the part of the country they came from. Greeks who had a higher level of education were less risk adverse and most likely to invest in shares, while investors belonging to the lower income brackets favored bank deposits. Investors from the country’s capital were the biggest punters in the country, as 15 percent said they preferred to park funds in equities against 9 percent of the country’s remaining investors, including areas such as Thessaloniki, the country’s second largest city. About 49 percent of those surveyed predicted they will invest less (or much less) in the future, while 15 percent replied that they will invest the same amounts in the next 12 months. The figures for Western European investors stood at 38 and 45 percent respectively. Common factors linking Greeks with their Western European peers were found among their investment choices. Both groups of investors preferred short-term bank deposits, life insurance and stocks. Across the Atlantic, confidence levels again differed, as Americans proved to be the most confident and optimistic. Buying shares on the stock market is among the most popular form of investment and continues to grow in popularity. One in four Americans consider investing in a listed company as the most important investment form while only 10 percent of Europeans agree. One in three Americans also said that if they had more money, they would put it in equities, showing the higher trust level that exists among retail investors on the American capital market. The research was conducted by telephone and involved questioning 861 people responsible for making financial decisions for households across Greece.k