OPINION

Commentary

Anyone who attempts to make forecasts these days may well be derided as a clairvoyant or soothsayer, but merely calling the forecaster names does nothing to clarify the new economic reality which is gradually unfolding. The aftermath of the terrorist blitz on September 11 has not been fully evaluated, nor is this possible in the near future as any conclusions made now would be grossly premature. The only indication given so far is a general economic forecast by the International Monetary Fund, according to which the terrorist assault in the USA will have a negative effect on the global economy; and this fact will add to existing pressures at a time that the world’s major economies were nearing a recession anyway. Thus any analysis can only be based on reasonable assumptions, and must always take into account the possibility of new and unexpected terrorist strikes. It may well be that US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s moderate line will prevail, that there will be no new strikes, that there will be no need for extensive military action, that a peaceful solution will be found for the crisis in Afghanistan, and that the world will then gradually recover from the disaster and people will get used to living with this new threat as have many countries have around the world. But it is also possible that the coming period could witness unexpected and extreme aggression. There could, for example, be another terrorist strike that pushes the USA to alter its careful stance up to now and sets off a chain of bloody retaliation. Given these limitations, any reliable evaluation of the economic consequences especially has to consider the conditions that prevailed prior to the attack. All economies were already under considerable pressure and all were experiencing a falling growth rate. Most of them were on the threshold of recession. The fallout from the catastrophe on September 11 will worsen prospects, even if the impact remains relatively mild. It will take six or even nine months for an economic upturn to develop. And there should be no doubt that the Greek economy will be also affected, despite funds from the Third Community Support Framework and the 2004 Olympics. The rest is beyond the realm of reliable forecasts, and anyone attempting to make predictions runs the risk of appearing merely as a glorified soothsayer.