Take a lesson in Greek adversity

MS contributors are always on duty – it’s my burden to file this from a poolside bar in Greece. So the country’s battered economy therefore seems an obvious topic.

Anybody who has visited a Greek Island this year will likely have been struck by the utter indifference most people seem to have about a recession of near Great Depression dimensions- one which has now been going on for five years.

Overall, the economy is projected to contract by a further 7 per cent in 2012 alone. Meanwhile, the grumpy International Monetary fund is still just about predicting a modicum of growth for UK PLC over the same period.

Nationally, Greek house prices have been falling since 2007, with a drop of circa 10 per cent in Athens in the year ending Q1 2012. 

London has seen price increases of circa 10 per cent in the same period. Greek House sales in Q1 2012 were 54 per cent lower than a year earlier and currently almost one in five mortgages are non-performing. Meanwhile unemployment in Greece is around 22 per cent – by contrast, the UK is 8 per cent and falling.

When prodded about the dire consequences of an exit from the Euro, my barman simply smiled enigmatically and said, “the next day, the sky will still be blue and you will still need a beer”.

As these are the people that practically invented civilisation, maybe there is a lesson to learn for us all. Being gloomy solves nothing and if Greeks can smile in the face of adversity, maybe we, from a far more comfortable position should try some positivity too.  Mind you, I’m sure the sunshine and poolside views help.