Finance Students and Greece's Prime Minister Discuss Financial Crisis and Reforms
May 30, 2014
Five 2014 honors graduates who completed the Isenberg Finance capstone course "International Macro-Finance and Financial Crises" have returned from Greece, where they met with the country's prime minister, Antonis Samaras (second from left in photo), and other senior-level officials. The students traveled as a group with the course's professor, Nikos Artavanis, and a second Isenberg finance professor, Ben Branch.
The one-hour meeting at the Maximos Mansion with Prime Minister Samaras gave the students a unique opportunity to discuss Greece's protracted financial crisis and the extraordinary challenges that it has posed for the country's people, economy, and government. Although unemployment in Greece remains Europe's highest at around 26%, the nation is exiting six years of recession through stronger economic performance, including an improved climate for business and capital formation, noted Mr. Samaras.
During their stay in Athens, the students and their professors heard variations on the prime minister's message in meetings with Adonis Georgiades, Greece's Minister of Healthcare, and Gikas Hardouvelis, head of the EFG Eurobank's research department. The group also met with Konstantinos Kollias, president of the Economic Chamber of Commerce, and Haris Theoharis, General Secretary of Revenues at the Ministry of Economics. And the students also explored a variety of culture sites on their 12-day visit.
"I still cannot believe the level of access we had to Greek insiders. Our first-hand accounts with bankers and government ministers reshaped my perspective of how politicians and business leaders must work together to ensure stable markets and economic stability," noted graduating operations and information management major Brian Heacox '14. "Not only were we able to learn firsthand about Greek culture but we were given inside info into modern day politics and economic affairs through various officials. This experience really put some perspective into what I had previously been studying and shown light on some extremely intriguing topics," added Sean Porter '14, a graduating finance major.
"The students had been rigorously trained on financial crises during their senior year," emphasized Artavanis. "They posed informed questions about the austerity measures and the expectations for the future of the Greek economy. The trip represents a new era of collaboration between Isenberg-notably its finance department-and the Commonwealth Honors College," he continued. "In that, we aim to offer advanced educational opportunities to top-performing Isenberg students and to create synergies among them and high-achieving students from different schools and majors.