Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Almost 2012! Καλή Χρονιά! Kali Hronia to Everyone in our Global Greek World!!! Happy New Year!!!

Our traditional Greek New Year goodies

2012 looks like it is going to go well..
Our daughter and her friends did the rounds of the neighbourhood this morning and sang the traditional New Year carol, Arximinia ki'Arxixronia
Despite the economic crisis in Greece, the children were rewarded handsomely for their efforts... a great omen.

In the photo above you can see that we have gathered all our traditional New Year goodies ...  GREEK made bubbly wine for us this year, 
a pomegranate which will be thrown to the ground at midnight,  
and the traditional gouri - plant which will adorn the door!

Our euros are ready for the traditional card game and we are ready to greet the New Year full of hope and optimism 

We hope that 2012 will be a pivotal year for us all - a year full of Health,Happiness, Love, Peace and Prosperity!


Ευχόμαστε ότι το 2012 θα είναι χρονιά σταθμός για όλους μας 
Χρονιά γεμάτη Υγεία, Ευτυχία, Αγάπη, Ειρήνη και Ευημερία!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Καλά Χριστούγεννα - Καλή Χρονιά! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Καλά Χριστούγεννα -Καλή Χρονιά!
Kala Christougenna-Kali Chronia!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our friends!
From Greece to every corner of our Global Greek World
from our house to yours,
we're sending you Greece's traditional Christmas symbol - a boat - loaded with love, good wishes and hope for a better 2012 for all!
Thank you for your support...
Από την Ελλάδα σας στέλνουμε το παραδοσιακό μας καραβάκι φορτωμένο με αγάπη και ευχές και με την ελπίδα ότι το 2012 θα είναι καλύτερο για όλους μας!


Η Παρθένος Σήμερον

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Buy GREEK for Christmas This Year Campaign! Let's ALL Buy GREEK!

Buy Greek for Christmas...
Share the page - Share the passion - share the thought! 
 it doesn't have to be big, a chocolate, a card, a book is fine...
just make sure it is Greek!

All those who have been following our blog and our Global Greek World Facebook Page know it as a blog which is for and about Greeks all over the world.

Global Greek World, or GGW as most of us call it, aims at bringing Greeks together, while promoting the best and brightest that Greece has to offer at home and abroad, uniting them all under the Global Greek World umbrella. 

Let's not forget that each and every Greek, wherever he or she is in the world, is a walking, talking and sometimes even singing Ambassador for Greece. We need to harness and project the enormous potential this dynamic gives us as much as we can for Greece's benefit, especially today.

One of our traditional Greek sayings goes... Άν δεν παινέψεις το σπίτι σου θα πέσει να σε πλακώσει.... if you don't praise your home it will fall and crush you... what else is Greece but our collective home and one of the most beautiful in the world! 

If only we knew how blessed we are!

Greece has so much to offer - at every level. Greek products are world class in many sectors yet, until recently, Greece has never really promoted them as such.

Take our excellent, top of the tops, pure, extra-virgin olive oil, or Greek Yoghurt, as examples of products which have taken off with just a little work...ultimately they sell themselves because their quality is so good.

The concept of Buy GREEK was something I was thinking of for a while as a way to make people aware of the significance of supporting Greece's 'producers' as a move away from the crazy and indiscriminate consumerism of all things imported that has prevailed in the last few years in Greece. I had already done the necessary back office work, the domain, the email and the Buy GREEK page but I was working on the direction it should take...  

However life has a way of taking over one's plans: Christmas and a question from a friend on facebook actually acted as a catalyst to get it going earlier than voila, the Buy GREEK for Christmas This Year Campaign event was launched at the end of November...

We see Buy GREEK as

a)  a movement which will make people at home and abroad show their confidence in all things Greek similar to the O ΕΠΙΜΕΝΩN ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ movement of the 80's

b) a 'meeting place' for Greek producers and consumers in Greece and around the world,

c) a way to provide a shot in the arm for all products and services which are also part of a much bigger picture -  the image Greece presents to the world - Brand Greece if you like, a brand which has taken a lot of  knocks in the last few years and which needs to be rebuilt, yesterday!!!

d) a generic term that refers to all the things available in Greece  - from physical products to Greece's rich and unique cultural heritage, and everything in between, on land or sea... the sky's the limit when it comes to showcasing the best!

There hasn't been any contact with any of the producers or the companies either 'liked' on the page or as direct links as yet, but that will come as we develop our strategy ... right now we are happy for people to post suggestions for Greek products, which as you can see they are doing, both on the actual page and on the event.

Buy GREEK is a concept which ultimately can be applied to all Greek products, businesses and services all over the world. We are thrilled to see that people themselves are not restricting it to Greek in the geographical sense and are including the diaspora Greek businesses which promote Greek products and services as well. 

The feedback so far has been very positive, but confirmation that it is a good idea and one that everybody will try to embrace will come with an increase in 'likes' or attendance for the Buy Greek for Christmas event itself, so please get 'like-ing'! 

There's been a great response following publication of the article by Nelly Abravanel in Kathimerini tis Kyriakis and on Skai as well as the English edition of Kathimerini - a much appreciated gesture, and a big thank you to Nelly for getting in touch!


You can read Nelly's article in Greek  - on Skai or in the Kathimerini  or in English in the English Edition Kathimerini.

As a result of that interview, the number of guests for the event are multiplying fast as are the 'likes' on the Buy GREEK page. Not bad at all, but we would love it to go viral of course! Ιf we can get those numbers high it means that we increase people's awareness of Greek products and services and show them that it is quite easy to Buy GREEK, wherever we may be.

Along with all the rest of our diaspora Greeks, I grew up and studied abroad, very much involved in all things Greek in our small Greek Community, bridging and bringing together the two worlds I belonged to.  Now living, working and raising a family in Greece, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of one of the best things Greece did in the course of her modern history - Athens' Magic Olympic Games - ATHENS 2004!

The amazing things Greece was able to show the world during those unforgettable days in August of 2004 was a result of the fact that as a nation, both at home and abroad, WE worked together as ONE, united and focused on the noble cause - the homecoming of the Olympic Games,  one of Greece's many legacies to the world. 

Unfortunately our political leaders didn't take the golden opportunity that presented itself after Athens' magical Olympics and they didn't run with it at all. Quite the opposite in fact...

The often undeserved battering Greece has had on the world stage because of the economic crisis has helped many people take a good long look at what has gone wrong in Greece. 

We now need to get to work again and fix it all for the good of Greece and the future generations. 

We need to start working for the common good again rather than just that of our immediate circle... and Buy GREEK is an initiative in that direction. 

We need YOUR  help to get the news of this initiative out there. 

We need to make people passionate about the cause. 

Share the page - Share the passion - share the thought! Buy Greek for Christmas... it doesn't have to be big, a chocolate, a card, a book is fine...just make sure it is Greek!

If you love Greece, it's simple...


Join us 

On Facebook: Buy GREEK for Christmas This Year 3rd Annual Campaign 2013
                     Buy GREEK 
                     Global Greek World

On Twitter:   Buy GREEK 
                   Global Greek World

PS  Just found out that the Dutch central bank has given its 2,000 staff a Greek hamper this Christmas, containing cheese, olives, wine, a travel guide and a book about Greek myths...  so...Let's start a trend! 

If the Dutch Central Bank can do it so can WE, wherever we are in the world!

GREEK Christmas Hampers for all! 


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Photo of the Day: Anyone For a Mc....Makis?

 Photo Source: Unknown - received by email
Location: somewhere in Greece...

We Greeks are pretty enterprising with a good sense of humour...
 Hope the Golden Arches trademark police give Mr McMakis a bonus!


Anyone for a Mc ...Makis? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Greece and the Bailout Package: How it works!

 A gentle reminder to our friends at the EU summit meeting which starts tonight...

It is a slow day in a little village in Crete...
The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted.

Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

On this particular day, a rich German tourist is driving through the
village, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk,
telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to
pick one to spend the night.

The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked
upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his
debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt
to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the
supplier of feed and fuel.

The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his
drinks bill at the taverna.

The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the
bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him
"services" on credit.

The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the
hotel owner with the €100 note.

The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the
foreign visitor will not suspect anything.

At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100
note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and
leaves town.

No one produced anything.
No one earned anything.
However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future
with a lot more optimism.

And that, dear friends, is how the bailout package works...

Monday, December 5, 2011

US Vice President Joe Biden in Athens. Who's Next? President Obama Maybe?

Joe Biden - Vice President - USA
Photo Source: Wikipedia

Yesterday, US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Athens after  visiting Turkey, where he  attended an international conference on entrepreneurship.

Of great significance we believe is his two hour visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate which included a one hour meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew, stressing the importance the US government puts on the issue of religious freedoms in Turkey.

Greek-American relations, issues of Greek interest such as the Cyprus problem, the naming issue of FYROM, religious freedom and the Ecumenical Patriarchate are on the agenda of Biden's discussions in Athens, as well as the  dire economic crisis and problems in the wider region.
VP Biden was met at the airport by Deputy Prime Minister of Greece Theodoros Pangalos and today will be received by the President of the Republic, Karolos Papoulias. He will also meet separately with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, PASOK leader and former PM George Papandreou, and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras.

VP Biden's wife, Jill, also visited Greece for the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics held in Athens earlier this year.

It is interesting to note that first, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Athens in July this year, now Vice President Biden visits. 

At this rate, maybe Greece should start making plans for a visit by President Obama himself in the summer...   

Source: AMNA

Friday, December 2, 2011

Greece - A New Beginning: 7 December 2011 - 13th New York Capital Link Investor Forum

Greece - "A New Beginning"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Metropolitan Club • 1 E 60th Street • New York City
7:45 AM - 5:30 PM
Followed by a Networking Cocktail Reception




NYSE Euronext, The Athens Exchange

Luncheon Keynote Speech will be given by

 Professor  Evangelos Venizelos,
Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Finance of the Hellenic Republic
Introductory Remarks by

Ms. Arianna Huffington,
President & Editor-in-Chief
The Huffington Post Media Group 

Mr. Jay Collins,
Vice Chairman of Global Banking & Managing Director of the Public Sector Group

The forum’s morning sessions will focus on new economic, political, and financial developments in Greece.

  • European Sovereign Debt Crisis: Searching for the End Game
  • Greece’s Economic Adjustment Program: The Restructuring of State-Owned Enterprises Privatization Program
  • The Legal Aspects of the Upcoming Privatization Program
  • Hellenic Exchanges & the Greek Stock Market
  • Investment Opportunities for Foreign Investors in the Greek Stock Market
  • Restructuring as an Investment Opportunity
  • Telecommunications
  • Banking Sector
  • Gaming & Sports Betting

The afternoon sessions will focus on the global shipping markets, which depend on the state of the global energy and commodity markets.
  • The Global Energy & Tanker Shipping Markets
  • The Global Commodities & Dry Bulk Shipping Markets
  • The Global Container Shipping Markets
  • Analyst Panel

There is no charge to attend the morning or afternoon sessions but if you wish to attend the luncheon there will be a fee of $125.00. 
For further information and to register, please call Eleni Bej at 212-661-7566 or  
email Eleni

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 November 2011:Nomination Deadline for Greek America's Forty Under 40!

Do you know any young Greek American leaders who strive for excellence in everything they do and at the same time are dedicated to making the world around them a better place? 

Do you know any young Greek American leaders who have excelled in their respective business endeavours and who have made philanthropy, community involvement and activism an important part of their lives?

If you do, be sure to nominate him or her for the  2012  Greek America's Forty Under 40 Award!

Another world class initiative undertaken by Global Greek Gregory Pappas and his dynamic Greek America FoundationGreek America's Forty Under 40  is made up of 40 young leaders (forty years old and younger) from North America.

Deadline for nominations is tomorrow, November 30, 2011 and the 40 winners will be announced in February 2012. 
To submit your nomination please fill in the Forty under 40 Nomination Form.

After this year's  emotion-packed Gabby Awards held on the historic Ellis Island and showing his Greek America Foundation's unflinching solidarity for Greece,  founder Gregory Pappas has announced that the awards ceremony is to be held on Memorial Day Weekend during the NIC 2012 Conference in Athens - a very symbolic  and welcome gesture of support!

Bravo Greg!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How the EU Works - In Case You were Wondering...

 Creator: Unknown
The moral of this story is, try to make sure you are as close to the top as possible, otherwise chances are you'll end up...
in more poop than you can handle! 

One of those cartoons that don't need more words...
except to give thanks that you're not at the bottom perhaps!

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Celebrating World Philosophy Day: Isocrates - Great Greek Orator and Philosopher

"Our Democracy is destroying itself because it abused the rights of freedom and equality, because it taught it's citizens to consider insolence as a right, illegal acts as a freedom, rudeness as equality and anarchy as prosperity".

Isocrates (436 - 338 b.C.)

Isocrates, one of the 10 great Athenian rhetors (orators) was not known as one of Greece's famous philosophers in the strict sense of the word, but we think he was and Keith Murphy, seems to agree with us...

Isocrates professes that rhetoric is philosophic in that it teaches morals and politics. 
By "philosophy," Isocrates was describing a theory of culture.     

He believed that philosophy was the study of how to be a reasonable and useful citizen.     

Isocrates held that one should deliberate about both one 's own affairs and the affairs of the state.     

He believed that a philosophic education should arouse intense patriotism as well as constructing a personal philosophy close to the stoic ideal.     

While Isocrates did not believe that virtue could be taught, he argued that it could be strengthened through training and practice in oratory. (Against the Sophists)    

He also argued that moral argumentation encourages right action because argumentation produces a historical narrative which uses historic events as precedents for present action.   

Therefore one gains moral knowledge by studying public address both as the art of oratory and by imitating the great speakers for the lessons made by a man 's life are stronger than lessons furnished by words, as he wrote in Antidosis.    

Isocrates also saw the relationship between morality and oratory as reciprocal.     

In the Antidosis Isocrates explains that the more one wishes to persuade one 's fellow citizens, the more important it is that the orator have a favorable reputation among those citizens    

This notion served as the basis for the Roman rhetorician Quintilian 's claim that ethos, or credibility, is a good man speaking well....    

In today's context it is rare to find the two together...Where is there morality in leadership? Looking around us today, we see all the troubles foisted on the world by that small group of so-called leaders...fellow 'citizens' in name only, who looking to enormous personal gain and huge individual profit at the expense of society at large.

In his article 'Who's to blame for the implosion of Greece - and the Global Economy?' Greg Palast writes the following:

The firebombing, the mobs in the streets of Athens, mass unemployment, the empty pension funds and the angry despair that would sweep across Europe in 2010 began with a series of banking transactions crafted in the United States and Switzerland. The plan was 18 years old, and here it was played out in the streets of Greece, then Spain and Portugal, and before that in Latin America and Asia. The riot was written right into it.
When I ask, Who did it? I don’t mean the damaged fool who threw the Molotov cocktail into a crowded bank. I’m looking for the men in the shadows, the very big make-the-monkey-jump men who turned economies into explosive kindling, lit the fuse, then stood first in line at the fire sale.

The Greek philosophers had a word for it...hubris, hubris against the whole of society.

Perhaps when we do find the leader that embodies both, ethos or credibility hand in hand with the ability to speak well, to be a charismatic speaker, to be able to convince...he or she will be able to convince the rest of society to return to Isocrates' principles of being a reasonable and useful citizen of society, to reembrace our basic sense of values for equality and justice for all citizens,  then our world will surely take a turn for the better...

Food for thought? We hope so!

Don't Forget: ' The Future of Hellenism in America' Conference Today in Washington DC


The American Hellenic Institute Foundation presents its 10th Annual Conference,  
The Future of Hellenism in America 
starting today 18 November 2011 in Washington D.C.  
With many of our prominent and dynamic Global Greeks taking part,
Greek Americans such as  
Ambassador Patrick Theros, Ted Spyropoulos, Professor Dan Georgakas,  
Andrew Kaffes and Antonis Diamataris
co-sponsored by the Onassis and Niarchos Foundations, 
it cannot help but be both thought-provoking and successful!

If you are in Washington and would like to attend this very worthwhile conference,  Register here

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Marathon of Marathons: The Athens Classic Marathon

The Athens Classic Marathon is the Marathon of Marathons! No matter how many Marathons you've run, you haven't run a real Marathon until you've run the original!
Today the world's greatest Marathon race took place in the city where it was born, in Athens, Greece along the exact same path that the heroic Pheidippides followed in 490 B.C., 2501 years ago, to announce the Athenians' victory over the Persians.
Commemorating that incredibly difficult 42 kilometre run from Marathon to Athens by  Pheidippides, people from all over the world flock to Greece each year to take part in the Athens Marathon, few being able to withstand the lure, the historic significance and the symbolism of running the same route as Pheidippides, in the Marathon of Marathons,
The message we want to send around the world is simple:
20,000 this year, 30,000 next year!
Spread the word, become a part of history!
The Athens Classic Marathon is the Marathon of Marathons! No matter how many Marathons you've run, you haven't run a real Marathon until you've run the original!

 Related posts:
The Marathon of Marathons:490 B.C - 2010 A.D - Commemorating 2500 Years Since the Battle of Marathon

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Greece: One of the Greatest Brands that's (N)ever been Branded - ΓΙΝΕΤΑΙ!

Earlier this year, in a post called Rebuilding Our Myth: YES we CAN we wrote the following

'We Greeks know all about myths... in fact our ancestors created the whole concept and built up the brand name!

Now at one of the critical crossroads in her long and glorious history, Greece, along with the rest of us who love this country whether living here or abroad, has started the process of debunking some of the myths that have been circulating in the last few months and rebuilding her own incredible Greek Myth.

In today's strictly commercial terms, this is called rebuilding a brand and that brand is none other than

Let's all do our bit to help rebuild 
Brand GREECE - for us and the future generations.'

Today we were thrilled to see that one of our Global Greeks, Peter Economides, a brand strategist with a successful career behind him (including Apple's Think Different campaign) has got started on this and we love what he has done... 

Have a look at the brilliant presentation he put together for Rebranding Greece, the 11th International Aristoteli Conference in Thessaloniki  where he was conference keynote speaker on 11/11/11, a historic day for Greece from many points of view  ...

You will love it too!

Brand GREECE -   

One of the Greatest Brands that's never been branded

The Greatest little brand in the world!

Let's all get the message out there! 

Here is Peter giving his presentation at the conference bringing it all together...

About Peter ...from his resume at Felix BNI

Peter Economides is a brand strategist with a global perspective.

He has lived on four continents doing work that has impacted brands and consumers almost everywhere. He has learned from the leaders of some of the world’s best brands.

Owner and founder of Felix BNI based in Athens, Peter is a former Executive Vice President and Worldwide Director of Client Services at global advertising agency McCann Erickson Worldwide and Head of Global Clients at TBWA\Worldwide.

His journey through the world of advertising and marketing started in his native South Africa and took him via Hong Kong, Greece and Mexico to New York, and back to Athens. “The Med is definitely the best.”

He has managed and grown leading ad agencies as CEO/President in Greece, Mexico and the United States.  At McCann Erickson Worldwide he was responsible for the global management of the $1.8 billion Coca-Cola advertising account.  At TBWA\Worldwide he structured and rolled out the global “Think Different” campaign following the return of Steve Jobs to Apple.

Felix BNI clients have included Audi, Volkswagen, Heineken Breweries, Pepsi-Cola, the International Olympic Committee,, Seychelles Tourism, the Antenna Group and Pernod-Ricard. 

Peter’s work is focussed on change - on the strategic responses to shifting culture, consumer habits and behavior, and the challenges of regional and global expansion.

His view is that branding strategy needs to be spherical and all encompassing, touching every aspect of the business organization and process.  As he says, “everything communicates” and “strategy is nothing without a universally compelling, and individually enchanting big idea that engages and aligns people inside and outside the corporation.”

Peter is a Board Director Make-A-Wish Foundation International.

One of his passions is sailing, especially in the Aegean. Another is diving, especially in the Indian Ocean. But his biggest passion is brand strategy.... 

We want to see Peter's passion create the greatest brand ever...

Greece, Hellas, Hellenes!

Global Greek World is with you all the way! 

Show your support, join  Peter's Facebook page Greece: It's Time to Imagine the Future
and/or follow Peter on Twitter 

Photo of the Day: Euros...not GYROS ... :)

Euros...not GYROS!!!
Wonderful cartoon from  Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle 

Food for thought...literally!

Have a great weekend - with love from the real gyrozone*! 

*for the word Gyrozone, credit goes to Nick Malkoutzis, Deputy Editor of the English language Kathimerini. Follow Nick on Twitter

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To the Men and Women of the Hellenic Air Force: Xronia Polla kai Kala!

Today the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Saints' Day of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel... On this day, the 8th of Novembereach year, the Greek nation celebrates those brave men and women in the Hellenic Air Force who like the Archangels guard our country day and night, putting their lives on the line, often falling in the course of duty...

To all these heroes,  and to everyone celebrating a nameday today - Angela, Angelo, Michael, Michaela, Gabriel, Gabriella, Stamati, Stamatia, Stratos and Stratia we wish  Xronia Polla kai Kala! Na eiste panta kala!

The beautiful song that can be heard below, is 'Ηλιος Θεός ( Sun - God) by Vasilis Skoulas, and was written for Kostas Iliakis, who fell heroically on the 23rd day of a fateful May in 2006...

Σαν το σύννεφο φεύγω πετάω
έχω φίλο τον Ήλιο-Θεό
με του αγέρα το νέκταρ μεθάω
αγκαλιάζω και γη κι ουρανό.

Και χωρίς τα φτερά δεν φοβάμαι
το γαλάζιο ζεστή αγκαλιά
στα ψηλά τα βουνά να κοιμάμαι
στο Αιγαίο να δίνω φιλιά.

Λευτεριά στους ανέμους ζητάω
έχω πάψει να είμαι θνητός
ανεβαίνω ψηλά κι αγαπάω
δίχως σώμα χρυσός αετός.

Και χωρίς τα φτερά δεν φοβάμαι
το γαλάζιο ζεστή αγκαλιά
στα ψηλά τα βουνά να κοιμάμαι
στο Αιγαίο να δίνω φιλιά.
Σαν το σύννεφο φεύγω πετάω
έχω φίλο τον Ήλιο-Θεό
με του αγέρα το νέκταρ μεθάω
αγκαλιάζω και γη κι ουρανό

 Σας ευχαριστούμε...
Χρόνια Πολλά και Καλά

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our Nomination for Interim Prime Minister: Minos Zombanakis-The Ultimate Greek Banker

Minos A Zombanakis
The Ultimate Greek Banker

Greece is once again face to face with its destiny... 

As the world watches, after weeks if not months of political turmoil and roller coaster emotions as we go from one bailout talk to the other, from IMF to  EU to Eurogroup and even G20 meetings, we watch in dismay as Greece's future is gambled on.

In the last few days, weeks, months, two years, we have watched our political leaders squabble unable or unwilling to come to an agreement, on anything almost...let alone what they need to do today, forming a government of National Unity.

As they continue to play stupid and childish games at the expense of the country, we thought we would make our own nomination for the post of interim Prime Minister.

If Greece is going to have a banker for Prime Minister then our nomination goes to the ultimate Greek banker,  Mr  Minos Zombanakis, a man who was known simply as The Greek Banker. 

With the international connections and impeccable background which are essential qualifications for the job of leading Greece through this period of economic crisis, Minos Zombanakis could well be the ideal person to fill this extremely important position at such a critical point in time. 

Kalyves Apokoronou - Crete, Greece

Often credited with being the 'father' of the interest rate formula known as LIBOR, Global Greek Minos Zombanakis was born in Kalyves, one of Crete's beautiful coastal villages and educated at Harvard. He is considered a pivotal figure in the history of the Euromarket, the first banker to make full use of the syndicated loan market after establishing Manufacturers Hanover Trust in London in the late 60's.

Minos Zombanakis, whose friends' list read like a Who's Who of the international and financial elite, is one of the world's savvy wheelers and dealers. A respected and popular figure both at home and abroad, his advice was always sought out at every opportunity. This was particularly obvious during the Athens Stock Exchange boom in August of 1999,  when you would often see him at the beach or at the local taverna in animated discussion with ordinary locals but also with people such as Yale educated Stavros Thomadakis, then Chairman of the Capital Market Commission of Greece and fellow native of Chania's  Apokorona district.

Equally at home in Crete as he is in London, Mr Zombanakis has often hosted some of the world's most famous citizens at his home in his native Kalyves, a town he has supported at all levels and of which he has been made an honorary citizen. It is not by chance that the Kalyves City Centre is named Minos Zombanakis in his honour.

Following vice President Al Gore's unsuccessful bid for the Presidency of the USA he spent much needed down time at Mr Zombanakis' home town, incognito, sporting a beard and a Mexican hat...

In 2010, the Belfer Center launched a new professorship named for Zombanakis, chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank's International Advisory Council for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, a Harvard Kennedy School alum and member of the Belfer Center International Council. Harvard Kennedy School celebrated the professorship with Zombanakis and his family in April that year.

Minos Zombanakis and Family at the Harvard Celebrations 
Picture Source: Belfer Center, KSG, Harvard

The Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System is defined as being aimed at 'a distinguished professor or professor of practice whose research and teaching will illuminate major policy issues of the era in ways that will be informative to policymakers addressing challenges of the international financial system'.

In fact, in April this year, former Vice President of the European Central Bank, esteemed economist Lucas Papademos  was appointed the inaugural Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 

It was because Papademos' name has been bandied around as possible interim Prime Minister of Greece in the last few days that we decided to nominate another, much more influential Global Greek for the position.

At 85 today, you might say Minos Zombanakis age might be against him, but let's not forget we have a precedent: Economist and banker Xenofon Zolotas who headed the Ecumenical Government formed in 1989 at the age of 85...

Why not?

Readers might be interested to read Mr Zombanakis' views on how we got to today's  economic crisis. In an address to the Hellenic Bankers' Association in 2008, entitled The Financial Crisis: How did we get here?, Mr Zombanakis had this to say:

'Let me start by reflecting on the present turmoil in the financial markets. 
Though it is not completely unprecedented in my experience, it is as scary as anything since the original oil price shock of the early 1970s, and it is still very uncertain as to its outcome. In my view, it has its roots in the powerful forces which have completely transformed the financial landscape in recent decades – forces that have transformed the financial system into a giant lottery.

It is worth glancing back to see how these forces originated, and how they interacted to create the toxic mix we have today, because there may be lessons.

I would single out three: financial innovation, deregulation of the finance industry, and monetary policy. I mention them in that order because that is the order in which they occurred.
Taking financial innovation first, I am talking here about innovation in two senses: the invention of new ways of doing business, and the globalisation of financial markets. These trends essentially began back in the 1960s with the development of the Euromarkets, a process with which I was personally and intimately involved. 

The phenomenon of “stateless” money – mainly dollars which had left the US or avoided to be deposited in US banks – created a resource which opened up international financial trading on a completely new scale, and which allowed virtually any bank with international ambitions to participate.
These markets evolved in essentially two forms: securities and loans. The eurobond market was the first to emerge, in the early 1960s, as a means for international companies to tap new sources of capital at a time when national barriers were coming down. But though they were very inventive, these markets were rapidly overtaken in size by the syndicated loan market which emerged a few years later, in the late 1960s/early 70s. That, I am proud to say,was my contribution. 

Within five years of the first Euroloans that Manufacturers Hanover Ltd arranged for Iran and later Italy, deals were running at the rate of hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
This process was made easier by the willingness of the monetary authorities of the day to allow these developments. Or, more accurately perhaps, I should say their inability to do anything about them because we must remember that the US (under Presidents Kennedy and Nixon) introduced tough capital controls to prevent the outflow of dollars. But generally “willingness” is the more accurate term because these new markets took pressure off hard-pressed domestic capital markets, and opened up important new sources of capital for business and sovereign borrowers alike, which was good. 

The process was also facilitated by the invention, of an interest rate formula known as LIBOR, which enabled large groups of banks, several dozen, to put together very large loans. Again, this is an area where I was directly involved.
While I am proud of my contribution, I must accept that the history of the Euromarkets is not entirely positive, though at the time it helped countries to finance balance of payments deficits arising from the sudden increase in oil prices. As we know, these markets soon exhibited the sort of “irrational exuberance” which we have come to associate with almost all large scale financial developments. They got carried away with their success. 

By the end of the 1970s, the international syndicated loan market, in particular, had become enormously competitive, and was churning out loans at the rate of over a hundred billion dollars a year. Loans were literally being forced on ill-qualified borrowers, many of them unsophisticated Third World countries, and when they couldn’t repay, they were given more loans to keep them current. By this time, I was no longer directly involved in the loan business, and I am on record as warning about “the monster” I had helped create. 

But, rather like Dr Frankenstein’s own monster, it had become unstoppable....'

Unstoppable indeed...the results manifest themselves before us...

Καλή μας δύναμη! 
Strength and courage for the hard road ahead! 


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