Knowing the Euro

Prime Minister Costas Simitis holds a euro coin while, to his right, Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos looks on. Simitis inaugurated on Saturday a Bank of Greece-sponsored exhibition, ‘The Euro and Us’ in Thessaloniki. The exhibition, part of the 66th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, aims to familiarize the public with what will be Greece’s only legal tender from March 1, 2002 onward. Euro coins and notes will be introduced on January 1, 2002, and will circulate alongside the drachma for a transitional two-month period. On the other hand, the typical small to medium-sized local corporation, listed or non-listed, continues to show its preference for traditional bank loans because it can still borrow at extremely low margins over the benchmark interest rates by EU standards. Of course, a handful of big corporations, such as OTE or the Public Power Corporation, seeking to borrow large sums of money, have tapped the international markets by issuing straight corporate bonds.