ECONOMY

Gloomy Greek investors

The average small Greek investor does not differ from his European peers in being rather pessimistic and conservative, though Swedes stand out for preferring riskier placements, a recent study has shown. The report by GfK Market Analysts, which covers Europe and the US, says most Greeks can invest less than 50,000 euros while also believing, like other Europeans, that their savings will shrink in the medium term. The majority of Greeks who can invest up to 50,000 euros prefer deposits and low-risk placements such as insurance endowment policies, with respective rates of 68 and 23 percent; 14 percent also invest in the stock market. However, the study finds an interesting divergence between preferences and actual placements. According to questionnaire responses, people preferred the following investments or placements: 33 percent in deposits (savings or current accounts), 10 percent in life insurance policies, 6 percent in assurance programs, 8 percent in bonds, 6 percent in stocks, 3 percent in equity funds, 3 percent in other funds and 31 percent in other investments. Only 11 percent of Greeks anticipate their savings will grow in the next 12 months. This is in line with other Europeans, 40 percent of whom, on average, believe savings will shrink. Greeks are even more pessimistic, with 52 percent expecting savings to fall and 30 percent seeing a marked decline. This percentage was a hefty 28 percent higher in April 2005 than a year before. Among Europeans, only the Swiss bucked the trend, with a majority expecting an increase in savings. Together with the British and the Belgians, they have an average of more than 50,000 euros of disposable funds for investment. The investing capacity of central Europeans is about half of western Europeans; only 4 percent of Hungarians and Czechs said their personal investments exceeded 25,000 euros. However, 35 percent of investors in the region said they wanted to invest in stocks, against 14 percent in the west. In contrast to Europeans as a whole, 40 percent of Americans who manage personal or family portfolios anticipate their savings to rise, while only 21 percent see a decline.