Back to our data fetishism today with some of the best-ever data on the wastefulness of Greek public investment - the only type of government spending with a snowflake's chance in hell of producing growth. This paper comes straight from the LSE’s Hellenic Observatory, whose work I’ve cited before.
In his time as an NBG Senior Research Fellow, a certain Y. Psycharis (of the humble but clearly well staffed University of Thessaly) managed to piece together a complete and consistent set of Greek regional investment data over 30 years – a very formidable task.
Psycharis' aim was to examine how much the allocation of funds varies between different regions, how it is determined, and how it has changed with successive governments. His key findings, thought tactfully delivered, are devastating. I reproduce the key findings with no additional commentary as none is needed:
“Neither a North-South/Mainland-Island/Urban-Rural divide nor ‘the needs based approach’ could carry sufficient explanation for the allocation of public investment.”
“Second, contrary to what many researchers have portrayed about history and inertia for the stability of the devolved spending in the UK and ‘the remarkable stability’ of regional spending pattern in the USA, the regional allocation of public investment in Greece is changing over time.”
“Third, the level of underdevelopment - and as result redistribution - does not appear to have constantly and systematically comprised the principal criterion to explaining the regional pattern of resource allocation in Greece during the period 1976-2005.”
“Fourth, the policy followed throughout the study period concerning the regional distribution of public investment does not seem to have been dictated by a higher-level strategic regional development plan.”
“Last but not least, the regional distribution of public investment seems to be affected by electoral geography. The electoral preferences of prefectures, even the place of origin of certain members of each government, seem to comprise explanatory variables for the regional distribution of public investment.”
Thank you Mr. Psycharis. More on our misuse of public funds here.