In 2011 we were made to believe that Greece was sinking in the Aegean Sea dragging the whole of Europe with it.
Tax was a dirty word, daily strikes and protests made the country’s debts go through the Euro roof.
Maybe you have not noticed but since then we have not heard about the Sirtaky family. You know why? Because the news from the Aegeis would have been good news and that does not get us excited.
Let me enlighten you: positive news is like Viagra for the economy but none of our politician has noticed yet. Except one: Yannis Stournaras, the new Greek minister of finance. He became aware that the media was killing his country’s economy with their disastrous headlines about cuts and austerity measures.
Obviously this is the only news that sells tabloids nowadays, even if it pushes a country’s economy over the cliffs. Yannis understood the principle of mass psychology and tried to ban doom-and-gloom news from the media.
Sounds a bit dictatorial and it even made Angela Merkel, who was smothering Greece with her motherly cuddles, feel uncomfortable as it could remind people of a brainwashing Austrian postman from pre-WWII.
However she eased down on the Greek and encouraged her fellow German holiday makers to drop a few towels back on the beaches of Crete and Lesbos; no, I know what you think but she is happily married to a guy called Joachim.
Stournaras fought the negative press by launching reports that Greece was over its all-time low and that the chance of leaving the Euro had become almost nil. On the way he succeeded to reform the economy, the Hellenics started to pay taxes and the government could pay its debts and cleverly repaid the private sector first.
This positive news had an enormous impact on foreign investors as they suddenly saw light on the Ionian horizon and that they might save their risky Greek investments from decades before.
Yannis kept blogging: “The world sees Greece in a different light and soon the Greek economy will show signs of recovery.” He ensured that it would be the last year of recession for his country. The Greek started to polish their Sirtaki shoes and stocked up on cheap porcelain (not from China) so they had enough ammunition for the next big fat Greek wedding. (Did not see the movie?)
Finally the Greek media gave in and adopted Yannis’s positive blogging; financial experts turned their heads with the new wind and backed up his massive confidence for the future. And oh boy did the economy make a U-turn; foreign investors returned to Greece willing to buy riskier assets such as Greek real estate, telecommunications and they trickled money into the agricultural industry putting a Greek salad back on the menu: Olives, feta cheese, the lot.
A relative small amount of €109 Mio pumped into Greek stocks, made it bizarrely the best-performing stock market in the European Union. They don’t care a monkey about triple credit ratings established by some far away, unworldly Americans with funny names like Poor, Moody or Fitch.
Most of them don’t know where Greece is and think that Athens is a metro station in Paris.
So I take my Dutch hat off for Yannis Stournaras and urge other European politicians to spend their next holidays on Mount Olympus and take a load of journalists with them.
What would they learn in Greece?
Flexible employment laws and contracts, less risks for employers to hire and easier for employees to change to better jobs.
Reward healthy living but make people doing dangerous sports take out personal insurances to cover for accidents; which saves money for your NHS and reduces the cost of complex rescue operations.
Have you ever calculated what it costs to lift massive risks taking hikers from the avalanche infected mountains by helicopter? Further reduce the tax on savings and pensions which will start money rolling.
Present positive successful entrepreneurs on the front pages and show that they are focussed on the future creating loads of jobs.
Yes, this smells like mass psychology but Yannis has proven that it can work in a peaceful way.
How can businesses learn during lean years from the new Greek attitude?
Ban the word “Crisis” from your work floor
Focus on creativity, diversity, craftsmanship, entrepreneurs skills and innovation and for all reward hard work
Aim for profit, not turn-over
Tickle the brains of employees, friends and fellow entrepreneurs
Cooperate with other businesses
Pamper your customers; it is cheaper to keep one as finding a new client
Think out of the box and look over the hedge (or channel). This is one of the reasons why I try to give you my views across the channel and urge businesses to expand their playing field abroad.
A bit much for a daily doses of positive thinking? Swill it down with a large Ouzo!
And by the way, have you booked your holidays to Greece yet?
Still relatively cheap, but soon it might be packed with politicians and journalists. (And German towels)