OPINION

Re-evaluation

Global stock markets have been in the doldrums for months, underscoring the uncertainty bedeviling economies around the world. The deflating of overblown expectations nourished by new technologies was followed by US corporate scandals (tarnishing auditors’ credibility), the devastating events of September 11, a slide in profits, stagnation and, more recently, the war clouds over Iraq – exacerbating the overall climate and resulting in a devaluation of liquid assets. At this moment, the majority of the world’s stock markets are suffering huge losses, some of them 70 percent below their peaks. The Athens bourse, in particular, faced with Greece’s particular domestic environment, is experiencing the consequences of institutional shortcomings, and the abrupt and anarchic shift of depositors in recent years away from the safe market of deposits and state bonds toward a risky and unchecked stock market. But could all these be merely the dark side of the moon? No doubt the 1990s were one of the most creative and efficient periods in Western history. Regardless of the uncertainties, the fears, and the threats this period gave birth to, it also created a huge momentum. The progress in numerous sectors is striking. New technologies changed working practices, boosted productivity, increased capital productivity, opened up new sectors, expanded services, enabled scientific breakthroughs, and incorporated elements of progress into people’s lives. Today markets fail to take this progress into account, as it is overshadowed by other formidable elements of a crisis. But they will take the first opportunity to recover and prompt a re-evaluation of companies’ real power, especially those firms whose productive investment is lost in the present gloom. Perhaps the Wall Street surge yesterday on the back of results from online giant Yahoo Inc will foster a re-evaluation of liquid assets.