OPINION

Economy in danger

The European Commission’s observations on the state of the Greek economy offer nothing new, but they do constitute a warning. The discreet wording does not invalidate the substance. The reality is far from the reassurances uttered by the government’s economic leaders and far more unfavorable than presented by the propaganda merchants of a «powerful Greece.» This applies both to fiscal affairs and the real economy. People are counting their pennies. The re-emergence of this phenomenon is perhaps what sums up in the most dramatic fashion the prolonged and intensifying economic malaise for a large proportion of the population. It is common knowledge that more and more households are having trouble making ends meet. Incomes get stuck and often decrease at a time when needs are mounting. The signs of crisis are apparent everywhere. The pressure has reached the lower middle classes, without a sliver of light to be seen at the end of the tunnel. The situation is well-nigh desperate on the level of fiscal balance as well. Competent government officials have exhausted all the possibilities offered by creative accounting. Continuous bookkeeping wizardry has been decisive in creating a largely false picture of health and prosperity, but the lie has started to wear thin. The Simitis government is trying to gain time to prettify the situation, but this tactic does poor service both to itself and to the country. The depressing drop in exports is the best reflection of the dramatic reduction in the competitiveness of Greek products. The influx of funds from the Third Community Support Framework helps maintain a relatively high pace of growth, but these injections will not exist for much longer. The worst is that only a portion of community funds are exploited to forge a productive environment and thus have manifold effects at the level of economic growth. While there is still time, the Simitis government must change direction. It should abandon soothing words, lay out the problem with absolute frankness and declare a state of emergency for the economy. This is perhaps the only way to conduct, collectively, a campaign to reverse the climate of relaxation. For the economy to take a turn for the better, the qualities that are needed are self-discipline, more work and, above all, production initiatives. It’s not an easy goal, but at least let’s call a spade a spade.