OPINION

Is our country richer than we think?

The real breakthrough we can expect once the recalculation of our national income has been completed is the ability to offer a more convincing explanation about our country’s wealth. First of all, we should stress the difference between Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and individual (or family) income, which we refer to when we are assessing our economic situation. For instance, a country may be ostensibly rich while the majority of its citizens are not at all well-off. If a country exports gold or other precious metals, oil or sophisticated technological goods then it is likely to have a large GDP. The proportion of national GDP that is doled out to the country’s citizens is quite another thing. In view of this, per capita GDP is an appropriate yardstick when trying to rate our national economy on an international level. But it does not really tell us anything about the prosperity of individual citizens. We would assume, however, that in the group of countries within which Greece tends to be ranked, things are done pretty much by the book. We have a democracy, a free market, guaranteed rights to possess capital and offer labor services, a developed social welfare state and unhindered transactions with other countries. And a clearer statistical impression of our production every year leads us to the natural conclusion that we are actually much richer than we would care to admit. Whether we like it or not, the truth is that we are among the world’s richest nations and we have moved higher up the ladder over the past few years. Let us consider some examples. The fact that the Metro now drops us off 500 meters from our home has added immeasurably to the property’s commercial value. It is easier to get home repair loans; you can mortgage your most valuable property and spend the loan money on whatever you please. The construction boom that started in 1998, the increase in trade and the supply of new and expensive services (such as mobile telephony) are the presentable aspects of a new picture to be revealed by the calculation of our national income. There are, of course, the disreputable aspects of the black market too.