Monday, September 30, 2019

Greeks sneer as Yanis Varoufakis reveals fortune

by Anthee Carassava

The Times

September 30, 2019

He made his name as the face of the anti-austerity movement but Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s rebel economist, is now one of the country’s wealthiest politicians.

After being removed from a left-wing government in which as finance minister he became too radical, Mr Varoufakis wrote a book and built a media and speaking career that has proved so lucrative that he has bank accounts in Switzerland, a property portfolio and a boat.

His income in the past three years was €1 million, his tax returns have shown. Critics accused him of profiting from Greece’s misery and being a champagne socialist.

Mr Varoufakis, 58, who appealed publicly for Greeks to adopt “humble and frugal” lifestyles during the financial crisis, leads MeRA25, an anti-austerity party that won its first seats in July. As such he is required to disclose assets and earnings, which showed that he was making far more than other party leaders. The professor of game theory entered Greek politics in 2015, becoming the face of the left-wing government and its defiant strategy against debt negotiations with European leaders and international lenders at the height of the country’s financial crisis. His brinkmanship led to banks being closed and queues at cash machines.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

There are reasons for moderate optimism about Greece

by Tony Barber

Financial Times

September 19, 2019

Ten years ago Greece plunged into a debt crisis that threatened to sweep away much of the political, social and economic progress achieved after democracy replaced military dictatorship in 1974. The economy shrank by a quarter, unemployment soared and Greece came close to crashing out of the eurozone. The crisis tore at the fabric of society and demolished one of the two political parties that had alternated in power since the return of civilian rule.

Today, on the face of things, the emergency is over and the outlook is bright. The authorities have lifted capital controls, imposed four years ago. Greece’s 10-year bond yield touched an all-time low in July. Consumer confidence is at its highest level since 2000. Elections in July produced a comfortable parliamentary majority for New Democracy, a conservative party committed under prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to a well-designed programme of economic reform, fiscal responsibility and administrative modernisation.

New Democracy’s victory represented the delayed revenge of the Greek bourgeoisie against the Syriza party, which came to power in January 2015 as the most radical leftist government seen in a European democracy since the second world war. However, even critics of Alexis Tsipras, Mr Mitsotakis’s predecessor, ought to acknowledge that some of the credit for Greece’s recovery goes to the Syriza leader, who eventually swallowed the medicine prescribed by Greece’s creditors.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Greek PM announces fast-track reforms and red tape cuts

by Helena Smith


September 8, 2019

Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has pledged that after almost a decade of being dependent on international rescue funds, his debt-stricken country will soon prove to be a “pleasant surprise for Europe”.

With investor confidence in Greek bonds better than at any time in the past 10 years, Mitsotakis said the country long at the forefront of the euro crisis had finally turned the corner. “Greece is no longer Europe’s black sheep,” he told the Thessaloniki trade fair, where Greek leaders traditionally outline economic policy.

“It is a country with self-confidence now,” he added in the keynote speech on Saturday.

Addressing Greece’s business elite two months after his centre-right New Democracy party ousted the leftist Syriza on a platform to revamp the economy, Mitsotakis said implementation of fast-track reforms to modernise the state and cut red tape were a priority if the EU member was to regain political credibility.


Greece’s Mitsotakis calls for tax cuts and reforms

by Kerin Hope

Financial Times

September 8, 2019

Greece’s new prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has announced tax cuts and structural reforms aimed at rebuilding the country’s credibility with investors, after three international bailouts and a grinding eight-year recession.

“Greece has turned a page,” the prime minister said in a speech on Saturday evening to businesspeople in the northern city of Thessaloniki. “Greece is no longer the black sheep of the EU, we’re a self-confident country now.”

The premier said the country was still committed to achieving high primary budget surpluses — before debt repayments — of 3.5 per cent of gross domestic product in 2019 and 2020, as agreed with European creditors.

Mr Mitsotakis hopes that if Greece delivers on reforms, the 2021 surplus targets will be cut to 2 per cent of GDP, freeing up funds for public investment projects frozen during years of austerity.


Monday, September 2, 2019

Greece moves to ease asylum-seeker crowding on Lesbos

by Michael Peel, Kerin Hope & Laura Pitel

Financial Times

September 2, 2019

Greece has launched an urgent effort to move hundreds of asylum-seekers from a heavily overcrowded island camp as fears rise of a further influx of people fleeing a Turkish clampdown on migrants and the long-running war in Syria.

Athens started to take people on Monday from the Moria facility on Lesbos, which has drawn criticism over its dismal conditions as it ballooned to more than three times its roughly 3,000 capacity.

The effort comes as worries grow that more asylum-seekers could head to the Greek islands in the face of a Turkish crackdown on undocumented migrants and a Russia-backed military offensive to retake the rebel-held enclave in north-western Syria’s Idlib province.

More than 600 asylum-seekers from the Moria camp on Lesbos boarded a specially chartered ferry on Monday on their way to a camp in northern Greece as the government began implementing emergency measures to relieve overcrowding in reception centres on the east Aegean Islands.