By Beatrice E. Rangel
Leaders of the financial world were about to pack their summer bags to take a respite from a rather jittery first semester when Mr. Tsipras crossed those plans. He decided to put to his constituency the decision as to whether Greece should initiate another round of belt tightening. And his people who have no relationship to Buddhism, of course, said No.
The problem now lies on what to do about this outcome.
Exiting the euro will do very little to improve the Greek lot, as their economy has failed to specialize in the manufacturing of a particularly vital product or in the provision of a strategic service.
Going back to the drachma could improve competitiveness for olives, olive oil, anchovies, honey and wine. But the problem lies in the fact that, except for the European Union where product cycles seem to be longer, the rest of the world has been moving at high speed to capture market niches that bring in hard currency.
And this race toward competitiveness has displaced Europe from leading positions in production of items that up and until ten years ago were deemed quintessentially European. Such is the case of Feta cheese, which now has the US as both the largest producer and consumer of the delicacy.
Chile has displaced Scotland in salmon production.
Louisiana and Malaysia have displaced France as producers and consumers of ecrevisses (crayfish).
India and Vietnam are tailing China in silk production.
Olives, olive oil and wine are produced everywhere in the world at far more competitive prices than in Greece.
One of the few winning strategies then would be to focus on becoming the best vacation destination in the world: The development of upscale resorts and gated communities; the establishment of theme parks and the exploitation of history and beaches in a mix similar to that developed by Mexico in the tourism strip of Cancun-Rivera Maya would be the only plausible development strategy.
But even that faces headwinds.
As the Chinese stock exchange continues on its correction mode to bring back to earth assets that grew about 100% over the last five years and the German, French and English banks take cover from the Greek fallout, FDI flows could only come from uber high net worth individuals who see the opportunity of becoming 21st century versions of Walt Disney.
Maybe Groups like Genting would also have that sort of appetite. But their demarche will be slow and parsimonious. Meanwhile, Greece will reel under political instability and economic stagnation. And the European financial system will wobble under the weight of Greek debt conversion.
And while markets were taking a dive in China, Europe and the US, Latin America received the first Pontiff born in the region. Ecuador; Bolivia and Paraguay had the luck of being visited by the most popular head of the Vatican in many decades.
By choosing Ecuador, Pope Francis reiterated his message about the significance he gives social inclusion and small nations. President Correa, a distinguished member of the Latin American pro-Marxist political leadership took cue from opinion polls and sprinkled Quito with billboards carrying the Pope's messages while attending religious ceremonies with impeccable behavior and gallantry.
In Paraguay the people and the government joined in a beautiful creation. They built an altar out of 32,000 corn cobs, and 200,000 coconuts, pumpkins, gourds and seeds to proclaim their pride on the blessings of mother earth and as tribute to his last encyclical.
But just as the markets were crashing elsewhere in the world in Bolivia manners collapsed. President Morales -- wearing a Che Guevara patch on his jacket -- presented Francis with a cross made with a sickle and hammer.
This clearly was a way to underline his Marxist militancy but also to show the world his lack of respect for the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis taken by surprise chose not to comment.
But Mr Morales came through as quite a rarity in this world. He showed the colors of a leader who lives in the past and who has yet to achieve the virtue of kindness.
Resurrecting Marxism is as futile an exercise as attempting to bring to dinosaurs back to life. Using the image of Christ to promote an ideology simply is bad manners. But the only civilized way to put up with such a behavior is to treat it pleasantly as Francis did.Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.
For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.
You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.
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