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Greece in History

Flashback: Greek 'economic salvation in the 1990s

"In the mid-1990s, it seemed as if the stock market would bring economic salvation. Investment returns were often as high as 25% percent. Suddenly, everyone became an investor and every stock held the potential of great fortune. With interest rates plummeting and stock returns soaring, countless Athenians converted their savings into equity. Many went even further, selling property , even borrowing from banks in order to invest. Privately held companies recognized the opportunity to cash in and went public. All over Greece, a new profession – stock brokering – emerged. With a few or no credentials, people opened brokerage firms. In Athens, underemployed young men donned suits and imagined they were on Wall Street. In a span of four or five years, speculation drove the Athens Stock Exchange into double it value. But by 2001, the stock market had essentially crashed. Investors were left feeling duped, many were ruined. One of my uncles, a hardworking immigrant to the United States for some thirty years before retiring to Athens, lost nearly his entire nest egg – $60,000. Greeks blame the government for encouraging them to invest, and for failing to implement adequate stock market controls. Government officials say people ought to have known that investment involves risk."

From the book Facing Athens: Encounters with the Modern City, by George Sarrinikolaou. Published by North Point Press, 2004. Quote from pages 15-16.

Kindle eBook edition of Facing Athens at amazon.com


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