Here on the Greek island of Ithaki for the week and the first comment from most of the business owners is “it doesn’t affect the islands so much”.
If so, the effects on the mainland must be serious.
Here, the signs of economic melt-down are more subtle:
- the proposed improvements to the harbour at Piso Aetos are frozen – a pile of rubble where a new harbour should have been
- some of the hotels simply didn’t open this year
- our favourite lunchtime restaurant in Kioni is gone – the lovely old chap who used to run around taking orders has vanished
- walking around Vathi on Sunday it is noticeable that there just aren’t as many people as in previous years
- Fotini, the hotel manageress, tells us that her youngest son, John, was simply fired from the BMW dealership in Patras because they have down-sized
- Fotini’s eldest son George is working here at The Perantzada but also partnering in a new internet business Terrabook.gr and was delighted to demo the system to me a couple of nights ago
- Stefano at Captain Yiannis (where we hire our little motor boat) confides that Russian tourism has kept his hotel business alive
- Prices at Liberty (the poshest restaurant in town) have tumbled as new owners have maintained the quality but adjusted their market position
Everywhere we travel this week, the first subject is “the economy” and the huge increases in taxes that all are obliged to pay for the sins of casino bankers and self-serving politicians.
Confidence in Central Government is zero.
Individuals adapt and innovate, seeking new businesses, new markets and new ways of doing things.
What is happening here in Greece is a process of ‘creative destruction’ that will see the emergence of a new economy.
It will take time, but one can see the entrepreneurs here in the remote islands of Western Greece working out their next moves.
Trial and error – tear up the rule book – start again, knowing what you know now.
In recession, fortunes and empires are born and here this week we are witnessing that re-birth.