The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage
NEW YORK (
) -- In any turnaround, there are two tasks that must be executed simultaneously and without delay. First, stop the cash hemorrhaging and second, create and implement a plan to drive revenue. Nearly two years on, beyond consuming billions of borrowed euros, Greece has shown little progress toward a turnaround. It's been dragging its feet on cost-cutting and its revenue-generating capabilities have gone backwards.
The unfolding Greek tragedy should surprise no one because Greece has a track record for consuming other countries' cash, while demonstrating little to help itself. Greece as one of the European Union's original cohesion fund recipients has received billions in aid to invest in things like infrastructure to make the country as competitive as other EU member countries. Twenty seven years later, Greece is still receiving funds because it still hasn't caught up. What's the incentive to stop receiving free money?
The cohesion funds, however, are working. When it comes to a competitive environment, Greece's infrastructure is where it gets its highest marks. If only economic growth came from infrastructure alone. But it doesn't. The EU net-giver countries probably assumed that Greece would be doing its part to become more competitive by tuning up administrative inefficiencies. No such luck. When it comes to government efficiency, labor efficiency and market efficiency, Greece scores at or near countries in the third world.
The situation has been getting worse. In 2010, Greece ranked 83rd on the World Economic Forums Competitiveness Index. In 2011 it fell to 90th and dead least for the Eurozone. The next nearest Eurozone member was Slovakia which ranked 69th.
Instead of a country on a path to be turned around, Greece appears to be in competition to be dead last in every category that indicates economic strength.
When it comes to corruption Greece doesn't rank in the third world but it's not in the first world either. On Transparency International Corruptions Perception Index, Greece slipped seven spots from 2009 to be ranked 78th in 2010, dead last in the Eurozone. That's a bad omen for attracting foreign direct investment that could spur job creation. Italy was second to last with a 67th ranking.
When it comes to the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index, Greece's ranking dropped 12 positions from 2010 to 2011 making it the 109th hardest country to do business in and dead last in the Eurozone. The next nearest Eurozone member is 80th ranked Italy. Particularly worrisome for Greece is its 149th ranking on starting a business and 154th ranking for investor protections.
When it comes to productivity based on purchasing power, Greece won the dead last position again. At about 35% lower than the average Eurozone country it is sure to hold onto that lead medal for a while.
Dead last again in innovation. The number of patents granted to Greece since 1997 the USPTO is 340. Luxembourg, second to last in the Eurozone has less than 5% of Greece's population but it has been granted two times the number of patents.
When it comes to The Global Entrepreneurship Index, Greece is again at the bottom of the Eurozone heap.
It's no wonder Greece's forecast for growth is 0.2% between 2011 and 2015. What's even scarier is that the 0.2% growth may be high. Greece's productivity has recently been declining. When the going gets tough, the tough get going and the Greeks go on strike.
What's next for Greece? The EU doesn't have a Eurozone expulsion option, so that option is out for now. Greece could decide to leave the Eurozone -- and by default the EU -- and kill the golden goose. They probably won't take that option. The option to bail out Greece with a Eurobond would never occur in time. Besides, some of the EU members are right. Throwing a lifeline to the Greeks will just given them an incentive to continue doing more of the same.
All of the PIIGS face difficult problems, but none, like Greece, is looking disaster in the eye and saying, you can't make me take the measures needed to turnaround my country and restore the dignity of my nation. Greece's fate is completely in its own hands and it should surprise no one if it shows no shame and defaults on its debts. At least its woeful behaviors are not contagious.
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