The crash of bank shares on the Athens Stock Exchange (ATHEX) did not come out of the blue in the “thriving” Greek economy.
The signs of a coming, dynamic questioning of the Greek banking system have been evident for some time.
In its 16 September edition, To Vima’s editorial, entitled “Without banks”, had laid out the problem, and warned of what was coming.
We had noted then that, “Authorities remain sluggish, and any measures to clean up the banking sector are implemented extremely slowly, with banks’ managements appearing bound and immobilised, by a vicious circle of political cost and administrative inertia.
The editorial underlined that, “Recently, our banks have been sinking into an almost daily cycle of disdain, due to imbecility, and the steadily high cost.” It concluded that, “There is no longer any room for self-deceptions or delusions…The Greek banking system needs an emergency restructuring and reorganisation, without hesitation and reservations.”
Following the release of the semi-annual accounting reports of credit institutions, the weaknesses of the credit market were revealed to the highest degree, with clear repercussions for the entire economy.
Our banks, shackled by non-performing loans (NPLs), meager available capital, extremely low revenues, and an anaemic economy, and without dynamism and creativity, could not but be the object of pressures from the impatient markets.
The picture became even murkier with the revelation of the magnitude of the fraud of Folli Follie, and generalised doubts about corporate accounts and data, but also because of the methods of corporate governance in Greece.
The situation was aggravated when the government showed in every way possible that it is more motivated by its electoral pursuits and political aims than by anything else.
The choice of State Minister Alekos Flambouraris to be responsible for the banks confirmed to everyone, and especially the sensitive and strict markets, that Greece is entering a vicious circle, and a political-electoral cycle that corrodes everything.
The combination of events, conditions, and irresponsible choices, revealed the intense problem of the banks. Undoubtedly, from the moment it was revealed, it will return again and again, like a gaping wound.
The banks’ anxiousness to be given time by the markets, so that efforts to clean up and reconstruct the banking system can come to fruition, is understandable. No one can be glad about the repeated plunge of the economy and the country into one crisis after the other, and from doubt to doubt.
Everyone has a duty to understand the fact that neither the country’s position, nor the prevailing, generalised instability in Europe and the world, permit political games and tricks.
The situation cannot change without dedication to putting the system in order, without radical solutions that will be accompanied by an organised shift to production and growth, based on the interests of the country, its economy, and its people.
The prime minister and his friends cannot play around with the fortunes of the country and its people, in the name of their worn and ineffective exercise of power.
They must dedicate themselves to the objective of exiting the crisis. If they cannot or will not, they should step down.