In spite of the government’s rhetorical din about Greece’s «strong economy,» the signs of an economic downturn were there long before the clouds of war gathered over Iraq. This was evident in households’ restraint, in companies’ efforts to cut down on operating costs, and in banks’ anxiety to recoup their losses. The publication of companies’ balances these days verifies the trend and highlights the difficulties faced by most businesses. It’s common knowledge that the halcyon days are gone for good and that money has become very hard to earn. The new conditions, the bursting of the stock market bubble, and the highly volatile international climate have all shaped a new business environment. The present period calls for the good old values of systematic effort, effective organization, assessment of risk and a thorough examination of investments. Above all, it demands a firm adherence to the rules of productiveness and competitiveness. Moreover, the 1999-2000 period demonstrated that indirect subsidizing and investment, a product of business and political entanglement, cannot maintain entrepreneurial activity which is not based on a genuine, productive and competitive basis. Everyone – particularly banks – now knows that the economy needs businesses with a strong productive and administrative structure, and with confidence in the principles of a free market economy. Thus, if the State wishes to protect itself, it must first cease supporting problematic firms and abandon practices of disguised protection or indirect subsidies and instead offer direct assistance to healthy companies. It must protect the free market and dismantle the oligopolies formed over past years. This is the only way to protect jobs in the long term, this is the only way to rehabilitate the economy and purge it of the distortions of a period of frenzy that has cost the country enormously.