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Doing Business in Greece

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Feb 18, 2012    •    538 Views

Sometimes getting 100 is not the best grade. In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, 183 nations are ranked in terms of the friendliness of their regulatory environment. Greece is #100.

One feta cheese maker complained to The Economist last year about a rule requiring him to publish his balance sheet in 3 different newspapers when he could just use the internet. Others protest the limited number of licenses in professions ranging from architecture to long haul trucking that make them almost impossible to enter.

The NY Times Magazine tells us, though, that adversity can be inspirational. Whether looking at an all-natural mattress manufacturer, a wine entrepreneur emphasizing value, or a recently fired civil servant who started an herb business, you would see an upside to the Greek calamity.

Similarly, the Chinese see investment opportunities in Piraeus, Greece’s main port and Qatar has started directing $5 billion toward revitalizing Greece’s tourism infrastructure. Some European investors have even begun planning upscale Florida-like retirement communities on Greek islands.

Our bottom line: If businesses can freely function, when an economy contracts, as opportunities surface, investment will start to become more attractive.

The Economic Lesson

Focusing on creating and running a local business, the Ease of Doing Business Index has 10 topics. For starting a business, it looks at the number of procedures, how long it takes to accomplish them and their cost. Other topics include enforcing contracts, dealing with construction permits, and trading across borders.

Among the 183 nations that participate in the Index, Germany is 19, Portugal is 30 and Spain, 44. At 87, Italy is much further down the list.

An Economic Question: Looking at your country in the Ease of Doing Business Index, note examples of regulations that constrain business activity.

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