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Staff Research Projects

The core and associated staff of the Hellenic Observatory engage in a number of in-house, collaborative and commissioned projects along the thematic lines and geographic focus defined by our strategic aims and mission. At the same time, it has also engaged in a number of projects conducted by external researchers to promote public policy research and to foster academic collaboration and networks.

List of Current Research Projects

Exploring the concepts of Crisis and Social Change through Greek Lived Experiences of COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr Chalari (Visiting Senior Fellow, October 2020 - September 2021) and her collaborator (Ms Koutantou, University of Essex) focus on the exploration of the concepts of Crisis and Social Change through Greek Lived Experiences of COVID-19 Pandemic. Their present study explores the ways Greek individuals have experienced the state of crisis while coping with the pandemic of COVID-19. The purpose is to re-examine the ideas of crisis and social change through the lived experiences of this unprecedent pandemic. The study started as an exploration of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Greeks while experiencing some of the strictest pandemic measures in Europe, however, it expanded in a wider study including and comparing narratives of Greek participants residing in 13 countries around the globe, and therefore experiencing social distancing measures in different levels of intensity. The empirical collection of 46 interviews has been conducted during the critical time of April 2020. The underlying purpose would be to reveal lived experiences of COVID-19, as a significant component which should be added in our wider understanding of this pandemic as a crisis.  This study aims in incorporating diverse subjective experiences deriving from different participants who, at the same time, share common grounds in terms of cultural backgrounds. The distinctive response Greece has followed towards COVID-19 formed a preliminary platform of common ground that participants could be sharing. Furthermore, Greece has recently started overcoming a prolonged socio-economic crisis lasting over a decade, resulting in severe social transformations affecting, inter alia Greek people’s ways of living, well-being and crisis coping strategies (Chalari & Sealey, 2016; Chalari & Serifi, 2018; Chalari & Koutantou, 2020). One of the main consequences of the Greek crisis involves a large migration wave of brain drainers residing abroad who maintain connections with homeland and share common cultural background (Chalari & Koutantou, 2020). Although Greek economy remains fragile and rather weak, the Greek government was one the few to impose extreme lockdown measures as a respond to COVID-19 outbreak. As Greek people had suffered over a decade of severe social, economic and political transformations, an exceptional research opportunity has emerged, while observing how the global crisis of COVID-19 pandemic caused even more intense social transformation in everyday lives allowing established as well as new coping strategies to emerge. Additionally, the sizable Greek diaspora who have left Greece before or during the crisis, have also experienced lockdowns on various different places around the globe. Such realisation offers a first-class opportunity to compare and contrast the narratives of Greek people who have gone through the consequences of a prolonged crisis, while having to confront an even more intense period of social and economic transformations while residing in Greece or abroad. 

Bank Performance in the euro area and the Single Supervisory Mechanism

Professor Helen Louri- Dendrinou (Visiting Professor, September 2020 - December 2020) will examine if and how the establishment of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) influenced the performance of European banks, using two key indicators for profitability (Return on Assets and Return on Equity) and a series of capital adequacy indices. Data of 548 euro area banks for the period 2011-2017 will be used applying the methodologies of difference-in-differences and linear regression with endogenous treatment effects. A positive effect on performance, in general, is expected but the details of the mechanism need to be researched and analyzed.

Publications:
Non-performing loans in the euro area: Does bank market power matter?
Maria Karadima, Helen Louri
International Review of Financial Analysis, November 2020

The Syrian refugee crisis and the Greek settlement policies adopted. Which were the immediate and long-term problems to be confronted and how these policies have been developed since the beginning of the refugee crisis?

 

Dr Maria Rizou (Visiting Fellow, September 2020 -August 2021) will examine in detail the recent Syrian refugee crisis (and more wider the current migration crisis) and thepolicies implemented by the Greek state and the UN in settling these refugees. The project will analyse the impacts of these policies for the refugees themselves but also for the local population living near or next to refugee camps and hot spots. Which types of interventions were used, and which were the intermediary outcomes and the final outcomes of these processes? The aim of this research project is also to analyse and follow the problems that refugees faced and continue to confront in their place of origin, during transit and at destination. This study aims to link the political actions to economic and social policies as well as potential economic gains and social benefits of regular migration. 


 

Private returns to education in Greece before and during the crisis

In this project Professor Panos Tsakloglou (Visiting Professor, January 2020 - June 2020) and his collaborators (Ioannis Cholezas and Nikos Kanellopoulos) used micro-data of Labour Force Surveys and attempted to provide answers to a number of questions like: “Controlling for the macroeconomic environment, which were the factors affecting the probability of unemployment at the individual level and how did the influence of these factors change during the crisis (with emphasis on the role of education)?”, “How were the private rates of return to education change in Greece during the crisis for narrowly defined educational groups and how do these rates change if the unemployment rate per education group is taken into consideration?”, “Is education a good investment from a private point of view even in times of high unemployment?” and, finally “How different are the ‘traditional’ OLS estimates of private rates of return to education from estimates derived using instrumental variable techniques?”

 

Distributional changes in turbulent times

Professor Panos Tsakloglou (Visiting Professor, January 2020 - June 2020) and his collaborators (Eirini Andriopoulou, Eleni Kanavitsa and Chrysa Leventi) analyzed changes in aggregate inequality and poverty in Greece during the period 2007-2017 using the data of EU-SILC and the tax-benefit microsimulation model EUROMOD. Unlike claims made in the public discourse, inequality did not rise substantially and/or continuously in the crisis years (actually, some indices record a decline), while the structure of inequality changed only marginally, with inequality “within” groups being far more important in shaping aggregate inequality than inequality “between” groups (irrespective of the partitioning criterion).  On the contrary, both the level and the structure of poverty changed dramatically during the crisis.  When the indices used are sensitive not only to the extent but to the average depth of poverty and to the distribution of resources among the poor, the rise in poverty is very large, even when the poverty line used is “relative”. When “anchored” poverty lines are utilized, the changes are far starker. Regarding the composition of the poor, unlike what is often heard in the public discourse, the pensioners are the only group that improve substantially their relative position, while the contribution of the unemployed rose markedly. Finally, using EUROMOD, specific policy changes are associated with changes in aggregate inequality and poverty.


 

What has been effect of Foreign Direct Investment and Mergers & Acquisitions into Greece since 2015, and is there a best-practice approach from the perspective of investors, policy or the economy?

Robert Quartly-Janeiro’s (Visiting Fellow, December 2019- November 2020) research focuses on how Greece can attract higher levels of foreign direct investment across two areas. Firstly, via buy-and-build strategies, and secondly by improving Greece’s attractiveness and opportunity-set for ESG and impact investment.’ His work is broken down into two areas. Firstly, he’s collating a report Buy-and-Build Strategy as a catalyst for increasing foreign direct investment in Greece on Greece’s position as a location for buy-and-build strategies so often employed by investment firms and corporates, in order to explore and make a case for this form of investment approach being increasingly used by investors into Greece. The second area of his work is to deliver a report Remaining Blue: Attracting ESG and Impact Investment into Greece (working title) in Spring 2021 on the the emerging opportunities for greater environmental, social, and governmental (ESG) investment into Greece, noting the lack of ESG credentials of Greek firms. The report looks to explore how Greece can attract ESG and impact investing beyond public markets, alongside the opportunities that exist for ‘greening’ sectors significant to Greek GDP e.g. shipping and tourism, in order to capitalise on the financial allocations being made to ESG by international investors. Additionally, this would ensure Greece doesn’t lag behind other countries when it comes to ESG and impact investing, that has proven to strengthen businesses and increase economic performance.

Bank recapitalisation under adjustment programmes: The Greek case

Dr Chrysoula Papalexatou (Hellenic Bank Association Postdoctoral Research Fellow, September 2019- August 2020) focused on the relationship between banks and the state in the case of Greece during the crisis. The Greek banking sector found itself inside a nation state which was restricted by the supranational financial order. At the same time, funds for banking recapitalisation came from the adjustment programmes with strong conditionality. Dr Papalexatou's current research examines the negotiations over the recapitalisation schemes in Greece. It explores how the multiple actors involved in the negotiations affected the bailout calculus and how the involvement of international lenders shaped and changed the traditional links between the banks and the state –given that all this unfolds against the backdrop of the creation of the Banking Union which has supra-nationalized bank governance. Moreover, departing from the Greek case, this project also provides a comparative assessment focusing on the different relationships and their evolution between financial institutions and national governments in other Eurozone states of Southern Europe.

 

FDI and Productivity Spillovers: Evidence from Greece


Dr Dellis' (Visiting Fellow, September 2019- December 2019) research aimed to empirically gauge the effect that FDI inflows have on domestic productivity and innovative performance using data from OECD economies. Furthermore, it examined the potential of threshold effects regarding the development of the host economy financial system insofar as the latter is considered a conducive force for spillover effects. Finally, the study shed focus on the specific attributes of the Greek economy in relation to the attraction and efficiency of FDI flows under the prism of the ongoing structural reform process.  

 

The economic contribution of the diaspora to the Greek society and state in the long term and especially in the last 30 years

 

Dr Papakonstantinou Katerina (Visiting Fellow, October 2019 - June 2020) focused on ‘The economic contribution of the diaspora to the Greek society and state in the long term and especially in the last 30 years’. Dr Papakonstantinou's research focused on the various aspects of the migration waves from Greece, the impact on demography and the economy. The main research questions were based on the effects of migration waves from Greece in the long term but mainly in the last 30 years in order to understand the contribution of this phenomenon to the Greek economy: the net contribution to the GDP with the migrant remittances; capital investment in the Greek economy and the types of entrepreneurship; changes in the labour market, in salaries and the rate of unemployment. The role of gendered migration and the networking of migrants in order to support their living and professional development. Based on the statistical data from various sources, the purpose of the research is to combine all available information and to produce a final paper providing new insight into the economic dimension of migration and diaspora while discussing key theoretical concepts such as networking, chain migration and family capitalism in diasporas.


 

In search of the optimal fiscal policy mix and what can be learned from the recent history of austerity programs in Greece

 

Dr. Platon Monokroussos (Visiting Professor in Practice, December 2018 - November 2021) with his research entitled “In search of the optimal fiscal policy mix and what can be learned from the recent history of severe austerity programs” is proposed aims to produce 1-2 publishable papers on a number of topics and themes relevant to the below items. 

- An updated assessment of the fiscal consolidation programs implemented in Greece over the last 5 years as well as the outlook going forward, in view of the conditionality underlying the new bailout program, the prospect of new debt relief and current expectations about the evolution of the domestic economy in the years to come.

- Based on the above analysis, the study will derive a number of policy-related implications, so as to judge the degree of success of recent fiscal policies implemented in Greece in restoring fiscal sustainability. Such an assessment would be of significant importance in the current trajectory, especially taking into consideration that Greece’s new (3rd) bailout program contains a new sizeable package of fiscal measures, primarily consisting of VAT rate hikes and new pension cuts. Although the country’s burgeoning public debt burden undoubtedly argues in favor of continuing fiscal prudence (and the provision of further generous debt relief from the official creditors), serious doubts exist about the potential effectiveness (and social fairness) of the new fiscal austerity program. This is especially in view of the domestic recessionary environment and the fact that a poor track record in fighting tax evasion increases the chances that the main brunt of the new measures will again be borne by wage earners, pensioners and other sensitive social groups. Probably, the best way to advance the aforementioned arguments is to let numbers talk: according to the latest data from the Secretariat General for Public  Revenues, cumulative tax arrears in Greece totaled €80 (or c. 45% of 2014 GDP) in September 2015, with as much as €5.6bn of which being accumulated in the first nine months of this year. In view of the aforementioned, the study will make a number of proposals as regards the main characteristics of a more fair and efficient fiscal policy mix that would aim to facilitate the attainability of the agreed fiscal targets with the least possible macroeconomic and social costs. In these lines, and taking into account Greece’s idiosyncratic characteristics, the study will assess the potential implications of a generalized reduction in income tax rates for businesses (in tandem with measures to strengthen VAT and income tax compliance) and will provide some preliminary thoughts on the potential merits and drawbacks of a flat income tax rate. More  generally, the study will make a number of reform proposals that would aim to simplify the tax system, increase its social fairness and efficiency and make it more conducive to attracting increased volumes of foreign direct investment.

 

Non-performing loans in Greece: explaining the interplay of macroeconomic,bank-specific and firm-level determinants

 

Dr. Platon Monokroussos’s (Visiting Professor in Practice, December 2018 - November 2021) research concentrates on ‘Non-performing loans in Greece: explaining the interplay of macroeconomic, bank-specific and firm level determinants’. Dr. Monokroussos examines the determinants of credit risk in the years leading to the global financial crisis and afterwards. In line with a couple of earlier empirical works on the drivers of non-performing loans in Greece (Louzis et al., 2012; Monokroussos and Thomakos, 2014), the study will use an extended set of potential macroeconomic and bank-specific explanatory variables to  empirically test a range of relevant hypotheses proposed by the literature. With regards to macro (systematic) determinants of non-performing loans, the study will examine whether a fully-updated series of potential macroeconomic drivers including real GDP, unemployment rate, inflation, real loan interest rates and real collateral values (proxied by property prices) plays indeed a major role in explaining the evolution of problem loans.

 

The future of housing in Greece

 

Dr Philipp Katsinas (Hellenic Bank Association Postdoctoral Research Fellow, September 2018 -August 2019) investigated the impacts of the economic crisis on housing in Greece. Traditionally characterised by high rates of owner-occupation, the absence of social housing and relatively low residential segregation, the Greek housing system has been affected by increased private indebtedness both towards the state (due to the introduction of a new property tax) and to financial institutions (due to non-performing loans) and the opening up of property foreclosures, which had been largely prevented until recently. Further developments have included the growth in short-term rentals and the entry of transnational investors into the housing market. Using a mixed-methods approach, the project addressed housing recommodification and financialisation, focusing on the interaction between state and supranational policies, financial institutions, investors, and local government development strategies, providing insights on finance- and culture-led urban restructuring and its socio-spatial effects from the Greek case.

 

Wages, employment and labour market reforms: Lessons from Greece

 

Dr Ioannis Laliotis (Hellenic Observatory Research Officer, September 2018 - September 2019) worked on a number of research projects of policy relevance and public debate. His research portfolio spaned over empirical applications on the Greek labour market and on the interplay between economic conditions, labour markets and health. As Research Officer he focused on analysing the impacts from the implementation of labour market and collective bargaining system reforms. More specifically, his research explored the features of the decentralized collective negotiations system in Greece before and after the 2011 industrial relations reform. Using the universe of signed firm-level contracts for a large number of years, his research attempted to explore the profile of firms that responded to the institutional change and estimate the implications for contractual base wages and other labour market outcomes. Second, and from a more policy-relevant and causal perspective, his research seeked to formally evaluate the impact of the reform, in terms of wages and employment, by developing and matching unique sources of contract and firm-specific data and applying quasi-experimental methods.

 

The Oxford Handbook on Greek Politics

 

Professor Kevin Featherstome is co-editing the volume The Oxford Handbook on Greek Politics with Dimitris Sotiropoulos (Athens). This is due for publication in 2019. It will contain over 40 full-length chapters by leading academics reflecting on post-1974 developments in Greece, placed in a conceptual and comparative perspective. It aims to provide an authoritative guide to the development of contemporary Greek politics – particularly from 1974 to the present, what has been termed the ‘Metapolitefsi’ period since the fall of the Colonels’ junta. This is not a chronological history; rather, it is a reflective commentary and analysis across the key themes of development that have shaped politics, institutions, and policies. As reflective essays, they critically assess the existing literature in specific fields and outline agendas for future research to build-up knowledge and awareness – they identify themes and seek to shape research terrains. Analytically, they comprise conceptual and empirical dimensions to deepen the appreciation of developments and to connect them to a wider, international literature. In placing developments in this reflective and analytical context, the chapters will provide expert insight that can stand the test of time as a key point of reference.


Does the ‘Quality of Government’ matter? Weak states, strong societies, and the challenges of EU governance

 

In the multi-level governance of the European Union, national governments are obliged to carry out a range of functional tasks consequent on their EU membership. This paper by Professor Kevin Featherston assesses how far their performance is affected by their national ‘state tradition’, as developed by Dyson. To operationalise the concept, it distinguishes two key dimensions: administrative tradition and the social autonomy of the state. It applies established typologies of the former and, following Rothstein, it creates an ‘impartiality index’ for the latter. EU member states display variation on both measures. The results show an incomplete pattern in terms of administrative tradition, but significant explanatory value for the independence of state institutions from societal pressures, such as corruption, favouritism, and mistrust. The implications for the EU’s dependency on member state delivery, and its management of their heterogeneity, are discussed in the context of the political sensitivities of recent crises.

 The Greek labour market

 

Research in this field involves a number of small projects led by Dr Vassilis Monastiriotis, using data from the Greek Labour Force Survey and applied microeconometric techniques to understand various aspects of the Greek labour market and of changes instigated with the crisis and recent labour market reforms. Specific topics include changes in the structure of sectoral returns and of gender-based occupational segregation (both with Rebekka Christopoulou), geographical differences in unemployment adjustments (with Angelo Martelli), changes in intra-household labour supply decisions (with Nikole Lampropoulou) and two research pieces seeking to evaluate in particular the effects of changes in wage-setting on wage adjustability (with Eleni Kyrkopoulou) and of the minimum wage on employment (with Andreas Georgiades and Ioannis Kaplanis). 

 Regional growth and convergence

 

A number of research papers are developed under this theme, concerning both broad economic geography questions and questions linked specifically to the effectiveness of European Cohesion Policy in Greece. A paper on Spatial Structure and Spatial Dynamics of Regional Incomes in Greece (with Can Karahasan) has recently been published as chapter 15 in the edited volume by Bournakis et al (eds), Political Economy Perspectives on the Greek Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan); while a follow-up paper on the theme, titled Regional Inequalities in Greece: A Spatiotemporal Analysis, is currently in preparation (again, with Can Karahasan). Another paper, with Theodore Arvanitopoulos and Theodore Panagiotidis, looks at the patterns of stochastic convergence across the Greek prefectures and examines their geographical-economic determinants. Last, the Spatial Allocation and Economic Impacts of Cohesion Funds in Greece is examined in current work in collaboration with Dimitris Kallioras and George Petrakos.

The quality of Competition Law enforcement: the case of Greece

 

Professor Yannis Katsoulacos' (Visiting Professor, October 2018 - September 2019) research focused on ‘The Quality of Competition Law Enforcement: the Case of Greece’. The main objective was to identify the quality of competition law enforcement in Greece focusing on the question of whether suitable legal standards are adopted in the assessment of potentially anti-competitive business conduct by the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC). Effective competition is one of the main pillars of a strong and prosperous economy and the effective enforcement of Competition Policy by Competition Authorities (CAs) is one of the main pillars for establishing effective competition in a modern economy. The main objective was to test empirically for the first time the choice of legal standards by the HCC, after constructing a unique dataset of decisions made by the HCC between 1996 – 2017; this would allow inferences about the quality of enforcement of the HCC; inferences concerning the predictions of recent theoretical models concerning the choice of legal standards by utility maximising CAs; also it would allow us to undertake international comparative analysis utilising other countries’ datasets, that are available to the project proposer and to investigate and make policy recommendations regarding the design of alternative, welfare improving, enforcement procedures and structures. 

 

Sectoral Dynamics in the Greek Crisis

 

Professor Nicos Christodoulakis (Visiting Professor, September 2018 - August 2019), investigated how Greek firms behaved in the context of the recent financial crisis, regarding patterns of growth, capital allocation and the ability to survive the fall in aggregate demand. Research was carried out both at an aggregate level and across sectors and regions, so as to draw conclusions regarding possible directions for business activity in the future. The aim of the research was to develop appropriate models and produce evidence regarding: (i)The effect of firms’ size in their ability to grow in the market and survive the economic crisis. (ii) The effect that sectors and regions might have on the resurgence of business activity in Greece. (iii) Suggestions on the type, structure and allocation of business activity, as well as the kind of market reforms that might accelerate economic growth in Greece in the following years.

 

 

Past Research Projects

Over the years the Hellenic Observatory has produced high-quality, multi-disciplinary research.

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