Top bankers expect rebound by year-end

The heads of Greece’s major commercial banks have voiced optimism that the economy can return to a growth trajectory by the end of 2011. They acknowledge that the first half of the year will be a particularly difficult and crucial period that will test the strength of households and businesses alike, but with the application of the appropriate policies and strictly following the terms agreed to with Greece’s creditors, the economy has the potential to stabilize and the first signs of recovery could become apparent before the end of the year. They also think the course of the local economy will depend heavily on the final format of the total European solution to the debt problem, but note such a solution would not entail a relaxation in the fiscal streamlining effort. Crucially, though, it would ease the worries of the markets and investors and reduce pressure. Top bankers however warn that the rebound can only come through policies that will awaken and release the creative forces of this country. National Bank CEO Apostolos Tamvakakis suggests banks will also have to become more creative, moving away from the mere management of the daily nitty-gritty and toward the realization of dynamic policies. His counterpart at Eurobank EFG, Nikos Nanopoulos, outlines three conditions necessary for a return to growth: the political and social consent for the adjustment to a new mentality, the strict application of commitments to Greece’s creditors, and the creation of a positive growth policy with an emphasis on tourism and exports taking a leading role in boosting the country’s presence abroad. Alpha Bank CEO Dimitris Mantzounis adds that Greece’s access to markets for funding will boost confidence and help domestic credit.