Greece - New paradigm or old problem?
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Greece - New paradigm or old problem?

Greece has come a long way in a short time. The economy looks good and business is booming. But is there a danger of declaring victory while the battle is still raging? Greeks are starting to argue that Greece is different and that excessive stock market valuations are justified. Many other countries have done the same in the past and lived to regret it. Brian Caplen reports.

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Stock market fever has taken hold in Greece. In Athens, taxi drivers and waiters are at the ready with their tips for the best stocks to buy - a classic sign of an overheated market. Almost everyone in Greece seems to have a view on the market these days.

In villages where old men used to sit drinking coffee all day, exchanging farming advice and scandal, they now frequent only cafes and bars with screens and all they talk about is the market. Then there is the island trader - a 20-something male who spends most of his days phoning his broker from the beach.

Even the clergy has the bug. A financial journalist recalls visiting a priest to discuss his forthcoming wedding and being showered with questions, not about the serious vows he would be taking, but on which shares to pick.

One in two Greek families now owns stock and the country is enjoying a consumption and investment boom fed by rising asset prices. The market has leapt 102% in the first 10 months of this year after an increase of 85% last year, massively more than any other European market, and notwithstanding a sell-off in September.

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