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Lunchtime conversations

The group on holiday was the usual mix of interesting people, with just two whom I tried my best to avoid. The holiday was fully inclusive (including apparently unlimited wine most lunchtimes and every dinnertime!) so we always ate together as a group. Which meant that there were lots of opportunities for stimulating mealtime conversations.

One of the older men in the group was a retired economics lecturer from a northern university. He was watching the painful dancing around handbags on the Grexit and debt negotiation with a detached professional horror. When pressed on the subject he said that it wasn’t his specialism, but that when Politics and Economics collide, Politics might win in the short term, but in the long run, Economics will always win out. It’s going to be very interesting to see for how long the cobbled-together deal announced today sticks, or whether further default and Grexit has merely been delayed.

Many of the lunchtime conversations naturally revolved around the prospects of economic recovery. The youth unemployment in particular is worryingly high. Our guide said that her son, who had just graduated from university in Corfu, has won a scholarship to the USA, and she very much doubted that he would be in a position to return back home for many years – there just aren’t the job openings available in his field in Greece. Yet if the brightest and most able young people take part in a brain drain, the prospects of driving the economy back to prosperity look even bleaker. It’s going to take a long hard slog, together with painful structural reforms and changes to ingrained attitudes. Since so much of their economy is based on tourism, I do hope that tourists aren’t put off by the current uncertainty – I had a really good holiday, and would be happy to return.