Wednesday, 10 October 2012



Greece is a nation of 11 million souls, a workforce of 5 million – with 25% unemployed and 50% of its youth unemployed - and with 3 million below the poverty line. There are about 7 million Greeks living abroad. The country owes $303 billion to banks and bond holders; or $61,000 owed for each of the workforce. When in work, their average pay is $15K a year. Sixty-One into Fifteen doesn’t go. Greece has a problem. Do you have answers?

The country annually generates $234 billion (GDP), collects $88 billion in taxes and spends $107 billion on public services (a $19 billion drain it is painfully correcting). Greeks work the longest (1,900 hours) in Europe, similar to Bangladeshis. It has one of the largest shipping fleets in the world, relies on some 15 million tourists visiting each year and its rural economy brings in 3% of revenues. Greek shipping earns $15.4 billion a year, but strangely it is exempted from paying taxes.

The Guardian reports (Greek ship owners, who have gained from their profits being tax-free and who control at least 15% of the world's merchant freight, have also remained low-key. With their wealth offshore and highly secretive, the estimated 900 families who run the sector have the largest fleet in the world. As Athens' biggest foreign currency earner after tourism, the industry remitted more than $175bn (£112bn) to the country in untaxed earnings over the past decade.)

Wikipedia states “Corruption, together with the associated issue of poor standards of tax collection, is widely regarded as both a key cause of the current troubles in the economy and a key hurdle in terms of overcoming the country's debt problem.”

The rich expatriate Greeks put little back into their homeland. In fact capital flight is further rapidly depleting the nation. A few USA Greeks make warm gestures, but carefully avoid paying cash.

The Greek tax-evasion-capital-flight since Reagan-Thatcher-and-Mad-Freidman-Monetarism created “Free Markets” can be guesstimated. In July 2012, The Observer newspaper researchers calculated $21 trillion is hidden in tax havens.  The Greek population represents 7% of the European Union and 0.16% of the world. If Greece is simply an average world tax-evader, the 0.16% means $34 billion hidden in tax havens – but as they are not average, with monstrous freebies for their shipping industry, high in the corruption rankings and are veteran tax-evaders, we should treble it to $102 billion. Contrary to uninformed off-shore opinions and prayers, the capital is both easy to trace (ask the CIA & IBM) and to licitly repatriate – using Back-Duty-Tax laws. Greece might even retrospectively tax its shipping; desperate times need desperate measures.

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