OPINION

Keep NBG separate from state

The share capital increase embarked upon by National Bank of Greece (NBG), the country’s largest lender, was a very successful move, particularly given the extremely difficult fiscal conditions dogging the country these days. The successful rights issue and bond offer is seen by analysts as being a vote of confidence in the economy. National Bank of Greece has traditionally played a key role in the Greek economy and, as became evident following the tenure of Theodoros Karatzas as the bank’s governor, the growth of the national economy is always connected to the degree of independence from the state and political parties. The significance of this independence should be made clear to those who would like to see a «state pillar» of consolidation in the banking sector. What these pundits actually have in mind is state banks of previous decades which served their own boys and granted favors to their political acolytes. Today’s NBG, which is a stronger institution than in the past, has a lot to offer as long as it is kept safe from state interference.