OPINION

Commentary

It was quite clear that political games were being played on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) during the 2000 election campaign, as most people are now aware. The government was anxious to restore the market’s reputation by election time, as a way of containing losses and of giving hope for the future. The main opposition party, on the other hand, had every reason to draw attention to the losses and to try to attract voters from among the discontented – and, according to ND, defrauded – investors. It is also clear that at that time, political forces were unleashed in various directions, and that on election eve, some of them shored up the ASE. A large segment of the press as well as investors were demanding support for share prices, ignoring or pretending ignorance of the principles governing free stock markets around the world. Apart from any political or practical considerations, one has to consider the reality of trading in stocks, something that is not often done. People now looking for scapegoats should remember the summer of 1999, when the entire country was gripped by an unprecedented stock market fever. What happened here in Greece was similar to what was also happening elsewhere around the world at that time. In the summer of 1999, Greeks were swept off their feet by a wave of profiteering and dreams of getting rich quickly, ignoring the warnings. This is the truth and it cannot be ignored. Two years later, everyone knows that six of the eight largest stock markets in Europe are at their lowest levels for the last seven years. The famous NASDAQ, the most ambitious stock market for technology shares in the US, stands at 1,700 points, far down from 5,000 just two years ago. No one can question these facts. People trying to evaluate domestic stock market developments based solely on the political situation are making arbitrary and dangerous predictions. They are ignoring the main issue which is nothing more than the profiteering binge of 1999, something which was certainly nothing new in the annals of world economic history.