ECONOMY

Openness helps create pioneers

Greece is an agricultural country, but with a problematic farming sector; it has a large tourism industry but can boast no companies with an international presence. The same, more or less, goes for nearly all domains, except shipping and banking. In shipping, the success is partly attributable to the fact that there is minimum legislative interference in the sector. However, the benefits would have been much larger had there been the appropriate legislation allowing maritime operators to list their companies on the bourse. Banking, on the other hand, is the only sector without a significant penetration of foreign firms, and Greek banks are showing strong expansionist tendencies in the Balkans. In fact, banking, which remains the steam engine of the stock market, has managed to combine high profitability with investment in recent years. A number of factors may account for the success; the state has shed a major part of its banking holdings in recent years, thereby freeing dormant potential; the financial sector has had to change in line with European regulations; the large public debt is a stable source of profitability for banks, and it is possible that a large number of Greece’s most capable executives have chosen banking careers.