Profiting from Forced Greek Poverty

Poverty Generates Profits – Whereas, in their dealings with Greek companies, German companies are usually cooperating with fabulously rich oligarchs, the Lidl discount chain is one of those profiting from the crisis, taking advantage of the growing poverty-driven necessity to purchase cheap groceries. According to a recent survey taken by the University of Economics and Business in Athens the average monthly household expenditure in supermarkets came to €274 against €310 a year earlier. Some 63.4 percent of Greeks said they buy fewer products and 45.8 percent buy only the absolute necessities. According to the survey, the number of small food retail stores has dropped from about 32,000 in 2005 to 27,000 in 2015 with major chains showing their sales values plummet at the same time. Only the discount food chain Lidl is showing increases, the study noted.[5] In fact, between 2010 and 2014, the German discount chain had increased the quantity of its outlets from 206 to 220 and has steadily increased its turnover. Lidl has announced its plans to repeat its last year’s investment of €100 million this year. This will enable Lidl to open new outlets and further strengthen its share of Greece’s retail market.Mass MigrationGermany is reaping benefits also from Greece’s mass migration. High unemployment, rampant poverty and a lack of perspective is forcing – particularly younger – Greeks to flee the country in droves. According to current estimates, 450,000 people have left Greece since 2008; many of whom, according to the state-owned Germany Trade and Invest (gtai) foreign trade agency, are “young and well educated.” This process has assumed such proportions that Greek companies are complaining of a “growing lack of skilled labor.”[6] Greece is particularly losing many of its university educated. In an April 2013 study, Lóis Lambrianidis, an economic geographer at Thessaloniki’s University of Macedonia, confirmed that more than 120,000 Greeks with a scholarly education had already emigrated, which “corresponds to ten percent of Greece’s scholarly educated personnel.”[7] Many of them have emigrated to Germany, where more than 114,000 Greeks had moved between 2008 and 2014. According to a study commissioned by Germany’s Ministry of Health, more than 3,000 Greek doctors were already working in Germany by 2014. Berlin is systematically promoting this immigration of Greek specialists, for example with newly created special programs of the unemployment office.[8]Export Country of Human CapitalThe economic consequences of this poverty-induced, practically forced emigration was evaluated last year by the political scientist, Andréas Gkolfinópoulos. He found that, for the Greek state, this mass migration of well-educated people represents a loss of “particularly valuable human capital.” It had been very expensive to train these highly qualified people; their training was usually “publicly financed” noted Gkolfinópoulos. When these highly qualified people migrate, Greece will have made an investment, whose returns will be harvested by other countries – including Germany. The fact that “Greece is particularly losing its medical personnel to other countries” is a hard “blow to the public treasury, because medical studies are the most expensive.” Gkolfinópoulos concluded: “In the neo-liberal European Union, Greece has evolved into an export country for the highly qualified, from whom the high-performance Northern European countries are benefiting most” – Germany in particular.[9]