ECONOMY

Credit is tightening for firms

After the drop in demand and the squeeze on the flow of funding by banks, commerce and manufacturing professionals are now also up against the drastic cut in credit from their foreign suppliers and a general shift in the attitude of anyone abroad with whom they have transactions. The lack of cash flow and the ever declining credit rating of the country and of the main banks have resulted in problems in the long-term relationship between local and foreign enterprises, with mutual trust being quickly replaced by feelings of reservation. Foreign suppliers based in Germany, Italy and even China and India have cut by at least half the days of outstanding credit to Greek enterprises. Until recently, the usual amount of time extended before credit was due was 90 to 120 days. This has now dropped to just 30 days in many cases. There are also many foreign suppliers who are now asking for their money in advance. In addition, if in the past foreign companies supplying the local market with final products or raw materials were cautious about accepting checks, they now will not accept them and instead are asking for letters of guarantee or hard cash. In some cases, foreign suppliers have opted for delivering their items in installments, thereby holding local firms hostage, while some even refuse to continue working with Greek companies. Under the pressure of the new terms in transactions, Greek firms must now find ready cash immediately. Given the fall in demand and their own customers delaying payments, they are driven to cutting costs, with all the likely consequences in product quality and employment.