Top bankers’ great expectations for 2006

The top figures at Greece’s big five banks appear optimistic about the course of the economy and the banking system in 2006 in interviews with Kathimerini. They underscore that after the success of the Olympic Games, the economy’s high growth rates are being maintained, proving wrong the pessimistic estimates about the economy’s post-Olympic course. Yet the big challenge, not only for 2006 but also for the years to come, is the economy’s adjustment to the requirements of the global environment. The banking system’s corporate heads further suggest that the opportunities for the Greek economy are increasingly related to the broader economic area of Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean, where domestic banks have already made great investments. As for the banking sector, they note that regulatory development on the European level will be very rapid in the new year, which will see many EU regulations for the banking system adopted by Greek legislation. This will bring massive changes to the legal framework in the Greek banking system. Bankers make no secret of their satisfaction with the sector’s course and their self-confidence in the future, led by further penetration in retail banking. They note that Greece will need more years of continuous credit expansion to approach the European borrowing average, while there still are some financial product categories that have not been used. They also believe that in 2006 banking profits will be satisfactory, stressing that the credit system’s stability is one of the strongest comparative advantages this country has. This year will see further efforts toward reducing banks’ operating costs, the modernization of their activities, strengthening of their extrovert character and the improvement of competitiveness. There is also great anticipation of the privatization of state banks.

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