Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Notes from some small islands.

Team Macro Man are currently on vacation and will be back sometime next week, so probably no posts before then.
But first some notes from here in the sunny Aegean seas.

Lobster pasta in basic tavernas is 90 Euros and interestingly it appears to be on most taverna menues. TMM find it hard to believe that every restaurant has a fresh lobster ready for a rich Russian to order, or perhaps there is only one lobster held centrally, ready to be airlifted into whichever restaurant hits the jackpot.

A new generic squid is available everwhere. Not the old calamari but a new 9 inch long beast that looks suspiciously Pacific in origin.

Local business is nearly all "cash only", which implies that things are so tough that no one wants to pay card handling fees, or that no one wants audit trails re tax liabilities.

The lamb gyros kebabs have all been replaced with pork or chicken (cheaper imported protein). This was a real surprise to TMM who thought that it would be available but just more expensive. Which then has us thinking that of course in a recession quality goods don't get cheaper, they stop being sold completely as cost per unit rockets, leaving only inferior goods available. We suppose we have seen this already start with airlines, where routes are cut first leaving only the budget airlines and then nothing at all. TMM wonder if the second wave of European middle class woe is when routes are shelved to normally popular holiday destinations leaving holiday house owners stuffed.

Greek ferry drivers play ten-pin bowling using parked boats as the pins and their wash as the balls. The driver of the Highspeed 6, Santorini to Ios just got a strike. The Greek islands are serviced by stunning huge superfast waterjet ferries capable of 45 knots, but there must be massive fuel savings to be had going back to slow ones. As we tourists are constantly told here - Whats the rush?

"Greek Economics" is alive and well. If your trade has halved then of course you need to double prices to stay flat.

The mobile phone network and free wifi coverage is phenominal compared to the UK.

The owner of the new yacht TMM is sitting on is an Athenian public sector employee.

Most locals we've spoken to feel the crisis is not their fault, nor their problem.

Retsina is proof of TMM's theory that there is always a good reason why "local specialities" stay just that - Local.

But God its beautiful here and miles from the market madness. We will unfortunately be back next week.

Until then...Yamas!

Posted from my Android phone using greek cafe wifi and a solar charger.


Nic said...

Have a fab holiday :)
Will you be keeping an ear open for the tooth fairy on Friday?

CV said...

Have a nice one. And yes Retsina is a gruelling, but necessary, drink on those parts.

Tired of tomatoes, feta and olives yet ;) ?


maximm said...

I am off to a similar small island in the med. And was informed by a friend that in his hotel a burger and chips + club sandwhich and chips and a couple bottles of local larger was....75 Euros!

Lets hope I can find a cheap source of Keo beer somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Yassou ! Just came back to rainy London from Cyclades - I noticed prices through the roof as well, on one island (not touristic destination, mostly locals and Athenians for summer) a coffee on the port is roughly same price as one on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Construction in past 15/20 years is crazy (greater than the sum of all construction in prior hundreds of years). Most say they want to go back to Drachma and grow their own tomatoes if they have too. Not sure they understand the effects but emotions are everything (not what guys in a suits in London or NY analyze). There's definitely a sense that they've had a fantastic 10/15 years with crazy Europeans throwing money at them. It was like a great Bouzouki, driking and dancing Sirtaki till dawn. Was great fun, now no way they pay back, they all know it and so back to horiatiki salad and retsina wine (which they consider is the envy of the world and they're probably right).

CV said...

When the bastard relic moves, it sure does move fast doesn't :). Ouch if you start poodling in at 1850.


Marz Bonfire said...

Great post. Thanks for the valuable insights. My fav quote: "The owner of the new yacht TMM is sitting on is an Athenian public sector employee." That says it all.

Anonymous said...

"The owner of the new yacht TMM is sitting on is an Athenian public sector employee."

Depend on the position: a senior official is also a public sector employee.

Leftback said...

Since Mr Polemic is in the Greek Islands, we are proud to present another edition of:

Goldfinger or Mr Bond?

Mr Bond is slightly shaken this week, but not stirred. Goldfinger, on the other hand, has been sucked right out of the plane again:

Goldfinger v Mr Bond

Bond is in a spot of bother for a while, but manages to eject in time and is safe, with Pussy of course.

LB expects some anons may be absent today due to margin calls. We regret the interruption, and trust that the name-calling will resume soon.

Leftback said...

With Irene now perhaps setting her sights on the Hamptons and Rhode Island, LB has already started to board up the windows of the portfolio, there is simply way too much optimism out there ahead of Friday's meeting.

Irene Tracking East

We plan to stay dry on Friday and over the weekend. Be careful out there.

odjros said...

I am off to Mani and Kythira next week ...no country in the world beats greece for good holidays if you know your way around... Spanish highrises in benid0rm .. Greek LOL :)..gelio

astako pasta is everywhere and yes I do indulge occasionally

Have you discussed Finish collateral issues with your local friend ..just curious ..I wouldn't

Sti Kriti kai sti Mani ....


Wish you all teh best

from a greek expat!!

ntwsc said...

And ntwsc finds it hard to believe you can't just bugger off and switch off, Pol. (Positively over lobstered or what?)

γειά σου (bless) and καλημέρα.

PS Got enough rockets in the garden to know better what not to sow next year

Anonymous said...

A famous προφήτης of the yield milk drinkers once wrote a paper on warm milk and ouzo, shaken then stirred. Longbondfingering or sth…


Polemic said...

Thanks all for the kind wishes, comparative experiences and recommendations.

Ntwsc, yes i am amzed too. Normally the sailing keeps my adhd satisfied but its so damn windy at the moment we are holed up in a tiny harbour waiting for it to drop to a force 6 to brave the departure. Its all vectors, but i still havent worked out a non terrifying solution to coming off my "stern too" mooring with bow anchor out with a force 6/7 on the stern. Hope the massive motor cruiser on other side of tiny marina is bouncy.
Sorry to turn this temporarily into a sailing forum but there you go ntwsc, priorities changing!

ntwsc said...

Now you're talkin Pol ;)
Apparently I'm an ace with the spinnaker and fetching beers.
And experience dictates that parking a boat in a force 6/7 is best done with a hangover.

Anonymous said...

'C from C'
calling in from the darkest depths of Norfolk,I see the week was as thought. A pause awiting the bearded one.Makes sense ,after the easy short money who really wants to position until Fed policy takes a view.
Speculating on what that may bring seems pointless as the issues are clear enough re growth ,but what is not clear enough is what does the Fed have left and when would thye think it appropriate to make a move.Anyones' guess ,but there are no shortage of opinions out there,but none I would trust to be worthy of backing with money.

For all the noise of the Fed and US the largest unsorted issue remains in Europe anyway.Trying to get meaningfully long equity etc whilst there are awaited dates for Euro policy action in front is like trying to clear your way through a minefield.You're fine until you're not ..boom.

Greece is fine ,but noi math for the UK holidays.We have everything at prices that do not bankrupt us and really who needs the poor company of foreign peasants when we can stalk thorugh the royal hunting grounds and bag our own 'Anons' out poaching the royal wildlife ;)

Point One Away said...

I hear Greece has banned exports of hummus and Taramaslata , due to double dip recession...

Leftback said...

The Greek bond situation is clearly becoming more drachmatic by the day. We can only hope that Polemic isn't liraing at any scantily clad maidens in between shots of ouzo and bites of dolmades.

European markets dithering around key support levels into the close today. Will they hold without activity at the Fudge Factories? Some of the big European banks (Barclays, STD, SocGen, BNP) are above their recent lows, but DB and RBS are making new lows.

C in C is correct that Europe remains centre stage, and The Bernank was a sideshow this morning, but perhaps the weekend portion of the Tri-Wizard Tournament might be more interesting? One wonders why the Europeans are out there at J Hole, unless some Forbidden Spells are to be incanted?

Leftback said...

The Swissy is falling like a stone right now, wonder if we are seeing an unwinding of a number of the safe haven trades?

Anonymous said...

Britain Will Take in Billions of Pounds from Taxes on Swiss Bank Accounts

Via: BBC:

A UK government minister has defended a deal with the Swiss that could capture tax of up to £5bn but keep bank account holders’ identities secret.

Undeclared money held by UK taxpayers in Swiss accounts will be taxed for the first time, at up to 34% of the total.

Treasury minister David Gauke said the deal was historic, with no chance of the Swiss abandoning tax secrecy altogether.

Ζάχαρη said...

γεια σας απο Ελλαδα...
Don't fooled by the sunny. Winter below.

Ζάχαρη said...


Nikos Eggonopoulos / Greek Poet