The Georgist equilibrium comes to Greece?

The 63-year-old has been been trying to buy an apartment ever since she was evicted from the home she rented for 32 years – when it was bought by Chinese investors two years ago.

“I want some security in case the same thing happens again,” says Ms Hynes, originally from Ireland. She earns a modest salary as an English teacher, while her Greek husband’s monthly pension was cut from €1,500 (£1,315; $1,690) to €500 during the country’s economic crisis, which began in 2010.

“When we were evicted there were still apartments selling nearby for €100,000. Now I can’t find anything under €250,000. These are Chinese and Russian prices. Not Greek.”

Greece’s financial crisis a decade ago shrank the country’s economy by more than 25% in the following years, but there are finally signs of improvement.

The property market, once completely dead, is on the rise – house prices in Athens rose 3.7% last year…

The boom appears to be driven by a controversial “golden visa” scheme, in which non-EU citizens receive residency and free movement in the EU’s Schengen zone, in exchange for investing in property.

The worry is that foreign investors are benefiting while ordinary Greeks miss out.

Many EU countries including the UK, Portugal and Spain, have golden visa schemes, but Greece has the lowest threshold. Investors receive five-year residency after purchasing €250,000 of property, making the country a new hotspot for foreign buyers.

Here is the full Jessica Bateman BBC story, via Ray Lopez.  Does a culture of renters bring a bohemian, non-complacent dynamic urban core?  Or a bunch of whiners who oppose economic progress?  Or both?


Whiners, always whiners. I hope the Greek economy comes back, since I want to sell the multi-story apartment my uncle built (and valued at over 2 million euro in 2006); I inherited it just before my uncle turned senile. Good man.

Bonus trivia: they like to build with concrete in Athens and Manila, which is less prone to rot than wood, but even concrete gets water damaged and moldy looking, both in hot climates like the Philippines, or in freeze-and-thaw four season climates. The key is to paint or cover the concrete with a sort of waterproof gypsum every 3-15 years, which a lot of people in PH and even GR don't do.

You don't care that Greece is being taken over by Chinese and Russians? As a Filipino living in Greece with a Greek girl half my age, I wonder why you don't care about my adopted country as much as I do. putang ina

Who is whining? She was actually trying to take control of her own future but just reporting the reality of Russian and Chinese money bidding the price of real estate up.

I don't see where she made any mention of her desire to have the government fix her problems.

"Residency and free movement in the EU’s Schengen zone, in exchange for investing in property."
Ballsy, for a govt to try selling a continent.

Welcome to the EU/Davos mode of Technocratic governance.

"We will sell your birthright, and eat the consequent pottage ourselves. Then tell you that if you worked for lower wages you could have pottage too. Now go and clean the table for our new Chinese and Russian citizens, or I'll give the job to Nigerian."

That's also the Tyler Cowen view of the world. This is what he calls "economic progress" and people like you are just "whiners". I don't see why any who isn't some Chinese or Russian oligarch can consider people like Tyler anything but an enemy.

I'm not familiar with Greece but I have some familiarity with other parts of Europe - Germany for example, relatively little new housing supply comes onto the market. Some of that is simply lack of space and infrastructure for high density some of that is regulations. Having Russians or Chinese come in to buy up property simply raises prices it doesn't bring more supply onto the market. But that's progress.

I really respect Tyler, but he is utterly blind to the sentiment that you may place a greater weight on the welfare of your countrymen than that of humanity in general. For him, a happy child in Nigeria is worth as much as a smile on the face of your own children.

Now, now. You have to admit he'll trrade either smile for an Amazon tax break.

The stranger 20 km away is just as much a stranger as someone a continent away. Often times the one down the highway is wearing a red hat and using racial epithets.

The only morons who think otherwise are under the same delusion derided by Oscar Wilde. You’ve given us every violent stupidity from the crusades to the two world wars, almost caused a nuclear exchange over Cuba, etc.

Good riddance.

The use of a highly specific shared cultural reference (Wilde) is clearly consistent with your belief that the stranger you're talking to here shares no more cultural history with you, no basis for shared communication, than a random individual on the other side of the planet!

Wilde, were he alive today, would probably have special words for the fool who thinks he shares no more cultural or population history with a stranger whose ancestors are all from the same country, was raised in that country and speaks the same tongue (in other words, a countryman), than with a stranger with whom none of those things are true (in other words, a foreigner).

So, there was this American citizen named Einstein, who shares with me American citizenship, but who does not have ancestry like mine and was not raised in the U.S. (we share each other's languages, though neither of us are native speakers of the language the other was raised in).

Wonder what Wilde would have to say about him in this context. Being American is not about ancestry or being raised in the U.S., it is about an idea.

I think it's fairly obvious (to all people with at least basic intellectual faculties) that we're talking about playing averages here, and what is on average the case, rather than the mere possibility of sharing more with a foreigner than a countryman, in a particular selected case.

I'm not an American, but I think many people would agree that a person who speaks only Chinese, has lived in only China, has only ancestors and family who have lived in China and speak Chinese, has no knowledge of any folk or elite culture of the US, yet still professes to believe in "the American idea" as he understands it... is not actually an American. "American" is a descriptive category, not something that one can proscribe oneself into by self selecting into a particular belief. That is, it's not "about an idea".

Consider a random Outer Hebridean indigent, who speaks not Korean, has no Korean ancestors, knows no Korean culture, has never lived in Korea. Is he able to bootstrap himself into being a South Korean by professing an identification with "the South Korean idea"? It would be a ridiculous notion, because "Korean" is a descriptive category, that contains factual information about a person; their personal history and their family history. These are facts that stand apart from a person, apart from their intentions and beliefs. Not, then, a content free elective identity that requires no facts other than self identification to be true. So, to my mind, is "American". Why should it be less so?

Korea is not America.

Anyone can become an American (or a Canadian or an Australian for that matter).

The New World is not subject to the same tired old ethnic/religious/racial box ticking as the Old World. That's what makes the New World so much better than the Old World.

"The New World is not subject to the same tired old ethnic/religious/racial box ticking as the Old World."

In my part of the old world ethnic/religious/racial box ticking was introduced as a copy of American practice.

Oh, you can become an American, sure. But it's not different from becoming a German - you are vetted to participate in the community of Germans, or born into it, then you do so.

Despite what any idealogue might want them to be, nationality terms are descriptive terms for people who are part of particular communities and longstanding groups - not a statement of fealty to some ideology. Prior Approval does not cease to be an American, however much others might view him as lacking loyalty to the "American idea" or however much he might renounce it. Because that idea is not really what makes one an American - the facts of his birth and life are what made him American, something he will never not be, and something a person who believes in "the idea of America" but has never participated in the US community will ever be.

On the US and Australia being better than Europe? Maybe. But I don't see that as having do with their attitude to nationality, but the character of their institutions from early on, under British tutelage (much of Europe not so fortunate), and then avoiding the disasters of the world wars and soviet communism. There are times when the US has looked pretty bad, and really the US is only one civil war away from losing any edge it ever has, and rather more politically unstable than Western Europe (as much as I don't want to see anything bad happen to an English speaking hegemon).

With a bit more bad luck, you could easily have been like those other great immigrant nations, Brazil and South Africa.

"The stranger 20 km away is just as much a stranger as someone a continent away. Often times the one down the highway is wearing a red hat and using racial epithets."

LOL, that's strikingly bigoted and silly. Most likely I speak the same language as the stranger 12 miles away. We both live near the same major city, in the same state. We grew up with the same weather, we watch the same local news. We've been to the same stadiums, driven the same type of cars, etc.

A stranger from 12 miles away and I have very similar life experiences.


One thing I have noticed about your place on the left-internationalists, pace Haidt, is that you have defective sacral and loyalty mechanisms. You genuinely can't form attachments about common cultural values or see the logic of mutual aid organised about clade and kin. You likewise won't follow authority unless it is to your immediate and personal advantage.

Even before Haidt, I'd noticed this in n-player games. It was always the flakiest liberals who would defect from coalition first, but without, it seemed, even noticing their betrayal. They seemed genuinely confused as to why their colleagues expected them to stand their ground.

Anyway, perhaps you think a Somali would or should die for your defence as readily as a countryman? Your weltschaung and condescension comes across as a kind of autism. Your professed universalism merely suggest you can't form deep coalitions about common values and defect at the slightest convenience.

I wouldn't advertise that tendency, if I were you.

It’s 2019. There hasn’t been a need for anyone to “die for my defense” since the French and Indian War, if that. One could make the argument it goes all the way back to King Phillip’s War. Unless I step into a time machine and wake up as my ancestors 370 years ago, I don’t need anyone willing to “defend my country.”

Most of your comment is just ad hominem or absurd.

Of course I can form attachments based on common culture. But it’s 2019. It doesn’t need to be defined by an invisible line in the sand or a Trumpian love of specific fast food franchises.

My common culture is defined by cosmopolitanism, education, elite international cities, professional networks of finance, law, and business, intellectualism, and a working knowledge of English.

And of course I have kin attachments. But extrapolating that to a nation of 330 million is simply idiotic.

If we were playing first person shooter video games, I would protect Alistair with one of my lives but I would shoot you in the back. Then I would rifle through your belongings.


I wonder how many of these globalist economists are on the spectrum. They claim to love someone 3,000 miles away, that speaks a different language, that has different values, as much as his brother.

Maybe he doesn't know what it means to love his brother, or his neighbor.

Otoh, like Hmmmm, his loyalty is to a transnational tribe of wealthy, global elites.

It may have been Chesterton who said that when everyone is your brother, no one is.

The world of “me against my brother, my brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against ...” is hemorrhaging population.

They’re instead streaming into the world of “whatever, let’s just have rule of law and let anyone compete.”

One is barbaric and insane. The other Is radical only in its equality of opportunity.

Funny you should mention rule of law. Our (USA) Constitution gives Congress the power to define citizenship. We have such laws in place, but they are not enforced. That is not the rule of law, that is the rule of mood affiliation.

You mean the much publicised Forbes article in which "In World's Best-Run Economy, House Prices Keep Falling -- Because That's What House Prices Are Supposed To Do", attributing to Germany a miracle of stable property prices, shared by every furiously tweeting, Teutophile hater of the Tory class on Britain's millennial socialist left is... not 100% accurate? ; )

They have this odd read of the political situation, in which opposition to socialism is about socialism putting the "wrong" technocrats in charge, and that actually if the technocrats are just go getting corporate managers who profess adherence to "mainstream economics", free trade, self interest and the burgher class, then it's all fine and go, go technocrats.

But for the average person, opposition to socialism is about the principle that their life should not be managed by any *sort* of Weberian bureaucracy of ideological intelligentsia who view themselves as promoting the general good of humanity, and whether they have fealty to the "winners" or the "whiners" is not really the point of it.

Likely part of why continual libertarian suggestions that borders are "collectivist" and unfair get no traction. People dislike a state bureaucracy intervening in their life, but "collectivist" measures that don't have any intrusive bureaucratic impact and help them live with their community are favored. Again, it's an authoritative bureaucracy managing their lives for the common good, maximum utility, economic growth and justice that is rejected, not the very bedrock notions of sharing and living in a community with your people.

Lol. No.

The average person wants a good school district for their kids, low taxes for them, higher taxes for anyone who makes more than they do, no foreign policy headlines that make them sad, cheap healthcare, and better than average social status.

They don’t care about almost anything else.

You really hate people, don't you?

Assuming Greece has the same crazy zoning laws as the rest of the world, they should probably limit this kind of foreign property investment to newly built residential property. Otherwise it just creates a nasty property bubble (see Sydney, Australia)

Greece should close down some schools and cut pensions to give subsidies and tax breaks to all those foreign investors or else they get nothing if those investors leave for better taxpayer funded goodies elsewhere. You see, Greece is like a private shopping mall and offering differential rewards to prospective tenants is standard practice.

It means that Greek assets were undervalued during the crisis

Or access to the EU is undervalued.

+1, if the foreign investors value access to the EU at 250K euros then they are getting houses for free

If a video advertisement costs 20 dollars per one thousand ads, and it performs below the direct response benchmark, there is still a chance the branding response has more than made up for it.

These low barrier immigrant investor schemes selling access to a wider entity should be deemed illegitimate. Bad for average Greeks, bad for other countries forced to deal with back door immigration. Only winners are property owners. The same thing exists in Canada with the Quebec investor scheme funneling Chinese to Vancouver and Toronto through a back door. It may not be a significant impact, hard to tell exactly, but pretty easy to see the free rider problem.

"Only winners are property owners": my first thought too.

Changes in taxes affecting property in the UK seem to have put off foreign plutocratic buyers - the upper end of the London housing market has been in retreat for some time now.

That may well be a good thing for different potential buyers, though no doubt the rather dim Mayor is capable of taking action to make things worse for almost everyone.

Balding suggested a while ago that the equivalent of the Chinese trade surplus was being moved out of country surreptitiously and against Chinese law. The money was showing up in real estate markets in the west.

This is real and has a very large effect where I live. The Vancouver market has been very vigorous, and we see people show up with the proceeds of sales bidding up properties. They sell for enormous amounts in the city, but can't move up market and if they move laterally the money all goes into the house. So they buy in the Okanagan or further in the interior, and have a few hundred thousand in cash left over.

It is a great deal if you own a house or condo. But not if you don't. Housing costs are outpacing the ability to pay, and rents follow.

An interesting angle. If you live in a house for a certain time, I think a year, the profit from the sale is not taxable income. It is a very attractive market for that reason. Wages or business income for an individual doesn't come close.

A budding economist has a natural experiment on the effects of taxation on decision making.

For various reasons, China having economic troubles, the regulations that are trying to control this, the Canadian government trying to walk a tight rope between pissing off the Americans and the Chinese, the slowdown in the oil industry here, many things, have meant that the flow has slowed down. Prices are flat and sales are down.

I would short the Canadian banks right now.

@derek - my Greek lawyer thinks the same thing, as he's been approached by rich Chinese looking to launder their money via Greek real estate. You can't blame them for that, after all, what good is it to be a millionaire on paper in China when any day your government can confiscate your wealth and declare you persona non grata?

It is even worse in Malta and Cyprus. They sell EU passports in return for a property purchase.

In Limassol 9 our of 10 tallest buildings have been built in the last 6 years. And more in construction. These building are empty, no one wants to live in Limassol, it is an EUR passport they are after.

So that's what Stonehenge was for! You've solved one of the great mysteries of pre-history. AG.

Perhaps the worst scheme is Hungary's, which requires long term deposits in Cyprus. Hungary does not profit from this arrangement, but Hungarian middlemen and Cypriot banks do.

"Does a culture of renters bring a bohemian, non-complacent dynamic urban core? Or a bunch of whiners who oppose economic progress? Or both?"

I think Tyler has conflated two decidedly different issues raised by this article. The 'dynamic urban core v. whiners' formulation alludes to your classic Development v. NIMBY / Gentrification v. Displacement dynamic apparent in cities like San Francisco or New York, as opposed to what this article has highlighted which is a flood of foreign hot money chasing an EU visa.

Whereas in a classic real estate market prices are driven by expected appreciation/rental yields, the individuals purchasing these properties are baking in the perceived value of an EU visa (which for many may be the entire purchase price!). If the purchase price is, essentially, that of the visa and NOT the property, then of course there is going to be an unsustainable market distortion (and hence rents) entirely disconnected from the local economy.

Bingo. What use is all those billions looted from Siberian Petrochemicals if you can be arrested at Putin's/Xi's whim and your money stolen right back?

"EU residency - For the plutocrat who thinks he has everything!"

The vast majority of people participating in these projects are upper-middle class people trying to have a better quality of life (more leisure time, better environment, more fun places to travel, etc.). I went to a pitch for one of these schemes in Spain out of curiosity once and all the people there were small businessmen, doctors, academics, and the like. $250,000 is not a billionaire entry point.

No, it's not. It's far too low a price, you're right.

I think the point here is that competition in national supply has driven down the price of an EU passport. A Greek passport is very nearly as valuable as a German one, from a Moroccan or Russian perspective. As a result passports are now being sold well below the cost of the negative externalities they impose on the natives in housing and social cohesion.

Wait, what's the value of social cohesion? I've only ever seen it used in the negative, as an attempt to exclude others from participation. It's like plaque in the circulation of human endeavors.

Value of social cohesion?

Go and live in the middle of an immigrant neighbourhood with high crime and low social trust where no-one speaks your language and your kids are the only ones of their ethnicity in school.

Then ask me again a year, if you are still breathing.

Since natives have much higher crime rates than immigrants (and significantly higher for violent crime)’re much more likely to still “Be breathing” living in the immigrant neighborhood.

We would take you all more seriously if you just commented “I don’t care about the facts, I just don’t like people with darker skin tones.”

At least it would be honest and we’d save some time.

Is that fact actually true? If you haven't lived in the scenario he's described- which is possible lots of places- then you can't really say whether you value social cohesion or not

I think it is very logical for Russians & Chinese to purchase Western escape routes. Russia was very recently a communist prison, now simply a horribly corrupt dictatorship that will violently topple when Putin dies. China's Xi is trying to emulate the cult of personality of Mao, the guy who starved 20+ million people to death within living memory of many Chinese.

Compared to Brexit or Trump being impeached, the Russians & Chinese face far greater fears. Always have a back-up plan!

A friend of mine did this - purchased half million dollars' worth, I think it was, of property in Spain - after Trump was elected. I'm sure plenty of people threatened to leave, but she and her spouse were on the point of retiring, fairly well-off, and able to follow through. She already owned, in the US, a couple of properties most of us could only dream of for our sunset years, so for her the sum almost entirely represented the cost of expressing her hatred of Donald Trump. A little bit was the ease of travel from a base in Spain - they love to travel, are blessed with a very happy marriage, and cheerful attitudes, and will have a great time.

Whether the idea that buying property as a means of disapproving DJT, in particular - is ironic, or more like rain on your wedding day, I don't know; now could someone explain to me where the Georgist equilibrium lies in all this?

10 years ago, during the darkest days of the Great Recession, Mr. Tabarrok wrote "Buy a House, Get a Visa" :

It was during the web2.0 boom times. Links brought me from to and then to this strange site named marginal revolution =)

Back to Greece. Some regulation and zoning may be needed. I've been to Gran Canaria or Zakynthos islands off-season and it's really sad to walk around a ghost town because all the apartments are for tourists. There should be an optimal tourist/local ratio to keep a city alive, I just don't know what it is.

As benchmark, the EB-5 Alien Entrepreneur visa for the US requires at least 1 million of investment and creating lawful 10 jobs. 500K if the investment is made in a rural or high-unemployment zip code. 250K€ in real estate seems very easy to comply with. It looks like the local politicians own or benefit from the profits of real estate companies.

"The 63-year-old has been been trying to buy an apartment ever since she was evicted from the home she rented for 32 years – when it was bought by Chinese investors two years ago."

Coming soon to an America near you. People losing their homes thanks to foreign greed.

Already arrived with the Asian home buyer.

So that is it. Americans died in Seul and Hill Eerie Hill to stop Asian hordes, but now America surrends without a shot.

Do you remember in the 1980's when Japan was going to buy all the American real estate ("Nakatomi Plaza")? Phases come and go.

Maybe governments should defend their peoples. President Captain Bolsonaro has vowed to block key Chinese investments in Brazil.

The "including the UK" part is about golden visa schemes. Nowhere does it say that the UK is part of Schengen.

Fair enough - it seems that 'The boom appears to be driven by a controversial “golden visa” scheme, in which non-EU citizens receive residency and free movement in the EU’s Schengen zone, in exchange for investing in property.' and 'Many EU countries including the UK, Portugal and Spain, have golden visa schemes, but Greece has the lowest threshold.' should not be conflated, as one golden visa scheme is not the same as the other golden visa schemes.

The property market, once completely dead, is on the rise – house prices in Athens rose 3.7% last year…

What's so good about rising house prices? Maybe it's because a 30 year mortgage doesn't look like such a good idea if the property doesn't appreciate in price (not necessarily value) during that time span, which would mean the end of profits for mortgage writers and banks. After all, the health of any economy is determined by the success of its banking sector.

Rising property values may not do all that much for owner-occupants either, unless at some point they can cash out to obtain a real, realized capital gain. Which they really don't if they just move from one appreciated residence to another, similarly appreciated one. Although they might if they're willing to move from a high-priced housing market to someplace where prices haven't appreciated as much.

Although rising prices would seem to help bankers by making less likely they'll take a loss if the owner defaults (because owners can sell, or be forced to sell, for more than the balance due on the loan). That is, rising prices should reduce risk to lenders, but that's only true if prices rise monotonically and forever. Which isn't very likely, is it?

In the USA many states permit negative-amortization loans, such as the infamous option-ARM. This is an adjustable rate loan in which the borrower may make payments based on any interest rate betweenb a low, nominal rate and a much higher, actual (market) rate. Of course, paying at the nominal rate can't go on forever, and it doesn't: when the loan reaches 120% loan-to-value (typically) the borrower either must pay it down or start paying a ruinously high interest rate.

But in practice, so long as prices continued to rise borrowers would just take out a new option-ARMs when the old one reached that 120% limit. Yet without prices that just rise monotonically forever, a day of reckoning was sure to come. And when it did, lenders (or whatever suckers had bought the loan) got stuck with real estate that was worth significantly less than the loan, as the occupants just walked away.

So, I'd argue that it's not so much rising prices as predictable prices that reduce lenders' risk. Although volatile interest rates may create boom-and-bust conditions for lenders, as ARM borrowers default when rates are high but refinance when they are low.

Is this blogpost evidence that Mr Cowen is coming to realise that immigration might not be a Good Thing for the whole of a host population?

Wonders will never cease.

What? No! Did you read his comments? He accuses people getting upset at rising rents due to Chinese/Russian "investments" of being whiners.
For Tyler all of this is a feature not a bug.

@dearieme - as Agent says, TC has for years now conceded that open borders is not an unalloyed good thing. No $1T bills.

Something similar has happened in the low country: it happened before the financial crisis and has happened again once the economy started recovering from the financial crisis. What's that? People from elsewhere buying houses in the area, lots of them, not to live in but to rent, primarily short-term using Airbnb. It's a phenomenon fueled by low interest rates, excess savings, and the promise of rising prices. So what's the problem? The problem is that it isn't prosperity, it's an illusion of prosperity. When the promise of rising housing prices is revealed as an illusion, as it always does, prices will collapse and owners will default, leaving poorly-constructed houses to deteriorate in the heat and humidity. Sure, money is made in the run-up to the inevitable, the bankers, the developers, the builders, the brokers, all those who are the parasites of the illusion of prosperity. And, ironically, so do the Mexican immigrants who do the actual labor building the houses - I say ironically, because this is a region where the working class doesn't care for immigrants but the developers, builders, and owners of the resorts depend on, and profit from, them.

Here is an interesting article on "tech" in NYC: It's interesting because the writer of the article emphasizes that "tech" in NYC is mostly the result of, and limited to, the advertising and financial services industries for which NYC is known. It makes sense that "tech" that services these two industry would locate in NYC, but it reveals just how single-minded "tech" really is. Of course, Google is the leader in digital advertising (Facebook is second), so Google's desire to put an office there makes perfect sense. As for financial services, investing is becoming more a function of data mining than expertise in reading financial statements a the banks replace analysts with computer engineers and quants. And the leading financial services firms are getting on the cryptocurrency (blockchain) bandwagon: JP Morgan Chase has already introduced its own cryptocurrency (although its use is limited to transactions within (the enormous) bank). Is this another illusion of prosperity, like the housing boom in the low country, or is this actual prosperity?

The density of Manhattan, its wear and tear, its snarling diffidence, dampened and simmered, delivered and dimmed, fitting an altogether decent madness, until the New Yorker was able to circumscribe method acting with a stand-up comedy routine, and secretly hope for a romantic tragedy. You gathered your plurality of memories and walked in the style of silliness. After lunch, you went from a business meeting in Chelsea Market to Houston Hall, then to the Ace Hotel, spent a couple hours reading in Union Square Cafe, and sat in the park until you found a pleasant stranger to go downtown with and ditch your friends.

So, she wants a Greek price level that precisely accommodates Irish entry but not the Chinese. I guess I'm trying to calibrate my sympathy with a similar level of precision.

There's a big difference between allowing the Chinese to participate in the market, and distorting the market with a special incentive that is very valuable to Chinese (and other non-EU) buyers.

There is lots of room to object to these schemes from a pro-free-market viewpoint.

Why not just sell the passport for 250k and leave the house out of it?

She already gets residency on terms that the Chinese do not. Again, she wants the free market distorted just enough to suit her interest but not others.

From what I read she'd like a little security.

A bit unfair: she's married to a Greek.

...who had his pension slashed.

The term 'slashed' is used a lot in rich countries in connection with government budgets, but it's almost all theater.

It's been a rough decade to be Greek.

We have a Greek acquaintance who had his academic pension slashed sufficiently that he wonders whether he will ever be able to retire. Unfortunately at his age, and with his speciality, he would find it very difficult to get an academic post abroad. Poor sod.

The real unfairness here is that foreigners have to pay $250,000 or more for rights that Europeans get for free. The lines for these visa schemes suggest that the fair market value of a European citizenship is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it looks quite unseemly for people who effectively inherited hundreds of thousands of dollars to complain about others born with nothing who are now striving for the same position. This problem could be solved by open immigration so people would not buy empty houses in order to immigrate.

Tell me, if we all graze our goats on The Commons, how fat will they get?

"The real unfairness here is that the entire world isn't an entirely communist system!"

Seems dumb to tie visas to real estate. If the goal is to make the visa recipent have "skin in the game" in the local housing market why not make them buy MBSs. No empty units then...

The competition among Western countries to garner Darwin Awards for their polity and culture is something to behold. But I suspect there will be enough awards to go around.

If you hate capitalism, there's plenty of socialism all over the world to enjoy all the culture and polity you want.

Here's my interpretation, devoid of any factual knowledge of the particulars of the Greek housing market:

Chinese and Russian investors helped put a floor under the collapsing Greek property market, in the face of significant risk. Their investment maintained and perhaps improved the housing stock (and the Greek economy) during difficult times. Now, as the Greek economy improves, incomes rise as well as rents and the Chinese/Russian investors enjoy a fair return for the risk they took and the housing services they underwrote during the bad times.

Is that what happened? Or did they function more like slum lords who purchased property, ran it into the ground, then reaped the unearned profits of a recovering economy to which they did not contribute.

Almost certainly it is a mix of both.

Either way, a Georgist land tax that appropriates unearned speculative profits (while leaving intact the profits earned by utility -- providing housing services) seems to be a good solution that rewards good behavior while eliminated profit from bad.

Of course, this raises the question, does the magnitude of the risk born by investors during the bad times warrant the outsize profits of the good times?

Dismal indeed.

There are no Greeks benefiting from the sale of these properties?

Absolutely there are. But clearly the distribution isn't particularly even.

It's the same paradigm of a Free Trade deal whereby, the economy grows, the traders get rich, the population enjoys slightly cheaper goods, but a chunk of the working class get hammered. So yes a net positive, but clearly a negative for some people.

Keep in mind that while the lowest quintile of Americans have suffered stagnant wage growth, the Greeks have actually gotten poorer. Greeks today have less real income than they did 20 years ago.

Ramez just asked one(*) generalized version of this question:

"Is housing supposed to be affordable? Or is it supposed to be an investment? Because those two goals are at odds with one another.

IMHO: We should focus on affordability, and let go of house-as-primary-investment."

I agree.

* - the immigration question compounds this. Perhaps they could improve the system and give visas to people who fund new construction? Or in the Med, reclaim abandoned villages.

Good luck separating those two functions without destroying the market.

That didn't quite make sense. If "those two functions" are concurrent, and at odds, in what sense is the market supporting both? Other of course than "badly."

If you can't grasp the concept that something can be both affordable and a good investment, then I can't help.

For those of you on a somewhat higher intellectual level, I'll point out the obvious that if you remove the investment aspects of housing, you aren't likely to end up with high quality affordable housing,

Instead you'll likely end up with trailer parks or public housing.

Wouldn't it be easier and more profitable just to auction off a set of residential visas? That way, the state can collect the economic rents, and spend it all on the Green New Deal.

By forcing foreign plutocrats to buy real estate to get residency, we all have distorted the housing market grossly. Consider real estate values in Auckland, Sydney, Vancouver, London, (and now apparently Athens) and special spots in the US like Manhattan and San Francisco. Prices going wild from foreign money desperate to avoid wealth taxes (hmmm..).

Let the Russian, Chinese, and Arab plutocrats buy residency rights, and let them just put their wealth in US dollars in US banks, and don't demand they buy real estate. Maybe we should ban them from buying real estate.

The only appealing thing about Greek society is the Church. Bad people with a bad culture.

I don't see how that could be. In my estimation bad people make bad-looking places, or make beautiful places ugly. Greece is beautiful, ergo ...

People can be parasites off their ancestors, culturally and in other ways.

My favorite story about life in Greece was composed by an American magazine journalists who was their briefly writing an article. This included an account of his encounters with the detritus of the place's political culture, which is influenced by a disposition in which 'everyone knows that' is an evidentiary statement. He found Greeks on the ground astonishingly hostile to the United States and taking the part of the worst sort of characters abroad (they also blame the U.S. government for their own political failures and embarrassments, including the military regime that ran the country for seven years). While he was there, he was in an automobile accident and got a taste of how Greek nurses understand their vocation: sit in the staff lounge yakking and watching television while you lie in bed stewing in your own juices.

I got laugh out of this:

"These are Chinese and Russian prices. Not Greek.”

They meant these are Chinese and Russian prices as the average Greek is much richer than the average Chinese or Russian.

The Golden visa system should drive property prices up and rents down. It is a subsidy for owning rental property.

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