Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Greece: Thinking the Unthinkable

Best recent summary of what's up in Greece: link, where we learn that a departure from the Euro might lead to an 80 percent drop in value of a new drachma against its departed comrade. Meanwhile I hear that you can buy a Mercedes for taxi service in Athens at a discounted price of €30,000. I assume that this means that the devalued price would be 150,000 drachmae? Unless, perhaps, the sellers of Mercedes taxis decided they had to shave a little off the top to keep the business (for you only, 147,000 drachmae, my best price!)?  This seems to me we should all be stocking up on Greek taxis--but no, wait, if  what I say is true, then somebody has already done it.

We also learn that the pre-crisis street price of an Athens taxi license was €150,000. (you could pass them down in the family, like a priesthood of Dionysios). A reforming Greece was supposed to do away with the Greek license raj, but with numbers like this I wouldn't hold my breath: few things can bring a nation to its knees quicker than an army of enraged taxi drivers. My puzzle is: would a post-departure taxi license find its price pegged to the Euro and so leap to 750,000 drachmae? Or is does it subsist in an internal market where a lower price might be indicated?

Meanwhile I hear that tourist business in the Greek Islands is growing again this summer—but that traffic on the mainland, including Athens, is falling flat. The Germans in particular are said to be giving the place a wide berth.  Given what I read, it is hard to blame them.

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