In Greece “Entrepreneurial Activity Was Denigrated”

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John Coustas. Source of image: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A15) Athens

If you’ve ever wondered why so many Greeks succeed in shipping, John Coustas has a plausible theory: “Greek shipping has nothing to do with the Greek state.”
His firm, Danaos Corporation, is a case in point. Mr. Coustas took over the company, which owns container ships, from his father in 1987 and has since transformed it from a three-vessel outfit into the third-largest company of its kind in the world, with a fleet of 56 ships. Danaos is incorporated in the Marshall Islands, a popular and stable jurisdiction for the global industry, and handles many of its operations through its German, Ukrainian, Russian and Tanzanian offices.
Nevertheless, Mr. Coustas is deeply concerned with the fate of his country. The government is now on the brink of default after passing its latest round of spending cuts and tax hikes. Yet the biggest risk to Greece, he says, is brain drain, that “all the good people, who really have something to offer, are either leaving or seriously considering it.”
. . .
On top of misguided government spending, Mr. Coustas says entrepreneurial activity was denigrated for many years and profit was regarded as “wrong.” “Anyone who wanted to make an investment here was considered a kind of bloodsucker.”

For the full commentary, see:
ANNE JOLIS. “Greece: Where Profit Is Taboo; A shipping magnate on the fate of his country.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., July 13, 2011): A15.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

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