Greece vs. Germany - A Game for Pride
Greece vs. Germany
Greece vs. Germany
From the very moment Greece was issued aid by its European partners, its harshest critic and most stern policeman has been Germany. The Germans, you see, are budget minded and perennially profitable. Thus, the nation’s austere populace wonders aloud why they should pay for Greek negligence.

Greeks on the streets of Athens and Greek-Americans in New York City counter with arguments about the infinite contributions of the Greek culture to society, the foundation upon which modern day Germany stands. Greeks will neither shy from reminding embarrassed Germans about the tonnage of gold and ancient relics stolen away during World War II, not to mention 10% of the Hellenic Republic’s population sacrificed in its impossible defense against the Nazis. That was one of the largest percentage losses by an Ally during the war, though did not compare to the atrocities suffered by the Jewish people.

So, in retrospect, perhaps it’s not too much to ask Germany for a little slack today, so that Greece might stand on its feet again. However, after the Greeks voted to endure continued austerity for the sake of remaining in the euro-zone, and to honor their debts to the EU and IMF, German Chancellor Angela Merkel only reiterated a strict stance for hard days for Greece. Others in Italy and Spain, where the taste of Greece’s pain is almost familiar, called for an extension of the time line for Greece to pay back its debt. Such grace would allow Greece to more gradually employ necessary measures in a means that might not overburden its economy and its people.

Much insult and injury has been delivered by each party in this family argument, but on Friday the nations will each get a chance to vent in a very competitive and direct manner. Greece faces Germany, you see, in the quarterfinals of the UEFA European Championship. To the winner goes the pride.

Picking the Winner Greece does not match up well against Germany today in many regards, but if a comparison were made taking into account the course of history, well then we would have a different favorite. Let’s have some fun then picking a winner between Greece and Germany in this marquee matchup…

CategoryGreeceGermany
FIFA World Soccer Ranking 15   3
Population 10.8 Million     81.9 Mln.
GDP Global Rank #35     #4
Most Millionaires
      
Military Size     #29 #30
Contributions to Humanity

History

Passion

Most Euro Victories 1   3
Most Recent Euro Victory   2004 1996
Best Story If Victorious




**    Data by Wikipedia, except millionaires list which was published by Bloomberg Businessweek, and “Passion,” “History,” and “Best Story If Victorious,” which were determined by your very biased author.

Greece does not have a whole lot going on these days, save soup kitchens and suicides. Its population is much smaller than Germany’s, but its military is larger including reserves. Greece’s economy cannot compare to the cornerstone of Europe, which is Germany. As far as publicly traded companies, well, that is part of the problem. Greece’s industrial base is much less important than Germany’s, with Greece’s focus on tourism, agriculture and shipping. Take note though that the domicile of Greece’s significant shipping industry is not formally within Greece, and so not one company makes the list below.

The National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG) trades in penny stock territory at $1.76 per share in New York, though it’s still sporting a market capitalization of $1.68 billion. Germany’s best known bank is Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB), trading upward of $35 per share, valuing the company at $32.7 billion. Germany’s largest companies are in fact on the tip of the tongue of most Americans, while Greek firms are generally not known except by Greek-American stock nerds like your Wall Street Greek.
Germany’s Largest Companies Notable to Americans:
For Greece, it’s a different story:
  • National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG)
  • Alpha Bank A.E. (OTC: ALBKY)
  • Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE.AT)
  • Viohalco S.A. (BIOX.AT)
  • Bank of Cyprus (BOC.AT)
  • Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. (NYSE: CCH)
  • Ellaktor S.A. (ELTEX.AT)
  • Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE.AT)
  • EFG Eurobank Ergasias S.A. (OTC: EGFEY)
  • Hellenic Telecommunications (OTC: HLTOY)
  • INTRALOT S.A. (OTC: IRLTY)
  • Marfin Financial Group (OTC: MRFGY)
  • Marfin Investment Group (MIG.AT)
  • Motor Oil Corinth Refineries (MOH.AT)
  • Mytilineos Holdings (MYTIL.AT)
  • OPAP SA (OTC: GOFPY)
  • Public Power Corp. (PPC.AT)
  • Titan Cement (TITK.AT)
  • Piraeus Bank (TPEIR.AT)
  • TT Hellenic Postbank SA (TT.AT)

It’s a list of never heard of names for most of you.

Clearly, economically speaking, Greece is a second class citizen. Much of this is because of the great brain drain that occurred for Greece after Ottoman rule and during the dark days following World War II. Whether because of communism and civil war, or for survival’s sake, a great many Greeks left Greece and are now domiciled across the globe. Greeks are leaving again today for their own survival, and are being welcomed across the globe by their brethren. It’s unfortunate that sometimes they never return.

As far as soccer goes, there’s a beautiful fairness in play. On any given day, any given team can beat any other team. That is because it will not be 80 million against 10 million on Friday; GDP nor personal wealth will matter when the national teams meet on the pitch. What will matter is passion and pride, two factors which run richly in Greeks. Yet, the Greek team is overmatched, as is clear by the FIFA rankings and by the play of both teams through the tournament thus far. But, these two teams have not met yet. Germany is a strong soccer squad, and just like its culture, it succeeds through science and scheme. For Greece, though, the game itself often determines how well the team plays. When Greece met with host Poland in the first round, it seemed to have compassion for the lesser rival, and the result was a tie. Against the Czech Republic, perhaps the Greek team recalled its important victory en route to its magical 2004 triumph, and so a loss resulted. When it came to Russia, winning was critical to the Greek team, and so they played to their full potential. Beating Germany is more than critical; it is a national necessity.

Editor's Note: This article should interest investors in National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG), Hellenic Telecommunications (NYSE: OTE), Coca-Cola HBC (NYSE: CCH), Teekay Corp. (NYSE: TK), Navios Maritime Holdings (NYSE: NM), Navios Maritime Acquisition (NYSE: NNA), Navios Maritime Partners L.P. (NYSE: NMM), Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd. (NYSE: TNP), Overseas Shipholding Group (NYSE: OSG), International Shipholding (NYSE: ISH), Excel Maritime Carriers (NYSE: EXM), Safe Bulkers (NYSE: SB), Claymore/Delta Global Shipping ETF (NYSE: SEA), Genco Shipping & Trading (NYSE: GNK), Diana Shipping (NYSE: DSX), Danaos (NYSE: DAC), Tsakos Energy Navigation (NYSE: TNP), Ship Finance Int'l (NYSE: SFL), Nordic American Tanker (NYSE: NAT), Seaspan (NYSE: SSW), General Maritime (NYSE: GMR), DHT Maritime (NYSE: DHT), Brunswick (NYSE: BC), Marine Products Corp. (NYSE: MPX), DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS), Top Ships (Nasdaq: TOPS), Eagle Bulk Shipping (Nasdaq: EGLE), Sino-Global Shipping (Nasdaq: SINO), Paragon Shipping (Nasdaq: PRGN), K-SEA Transportation Partners (NYSE: KSP), Euroseas (Nasdaq: ESEA), Star Bulk Carriers (Nasdaq: SBLK), Omega Navigation (Nasdaq: ONAV), Knightsbridge Tankers Ltd. (Nasdaq: VLCCF), TBS Int'l (Nasdaq: TBSI), Golar LNG (Nasdaq: GLNG), Claymore/Delta Global Shipping (Nasdaq: XSEAX), American Commercial Lines (Nasdaq: ACLI), Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB), ITA (Nasdaq: ITUB), Banco Santander (NYSE: STD), Westpac Banking (NYSE: WBK), UBS (NYSE: UBS), Lloyd’s Banking Group (NYSE: LYG), Barclay’s (NYSE: BCS), Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS), Allied Irish Banks (NYSE: AIB), Banco Latinamerican (NYSE: BLX), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Citigroup (NYSE: C), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), European Equity Fund (NYSE: EEA), Vanguard European Stock Index (Nasdaq: VEURX), Powershares FTSE RAFI Europe (NYSE: PEF), Europe 2001 (NYSE: EKH), S&P Emerging Europe (NYSE: GUR), Ultrashort MSCI Europe (NYSE: EPV), Vanguard Europe Pacific (NYSE: VEA), Wisdomtree Europe SmallCap (NYSE: DFE), Wisdom Tree Europe Total Div (NYSE: DEB), iShares S&P Europe 350 (NYSE: IEV), Morgan Stanley Eastern Europe (NYSE: RNE), DWS Europe Equity A (Nasdaq: SERAX), DWS Europe Equity B (Nasdaq: SERBX), Fidelity Europe (Nasdaq: FEUFX), Fidelity Europe (Nasdaq: FIEUX), ICON Europe A (Nasdaq: IERAX), Pioneer Europe Fund (Nasdaq: PBEUX), ProFunds Europe 30 (Nasdaq: UEPIX), Putnam Europe A (Nasdaq: PEUGX), Rydex Europe 1.25x (Nasdaq: RYAEX).

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