A most enlightening article in the New York Times tells the story of Fotis I Antonopoulos, who tried to launch a business in Athens called OliveShop.com, selling olive oil and other products over the Internet. The wall of bureaucracy meant that it took him ten months to get started, having to collect forms from all over the city.
The banks professed themselves unable to process credit card payments - he set up a system with the American PayPal in ten minutes. A law says he could not have a warehouse in Athens, so he took a shop front and boarded up the windows. Hoards of Inspectors called, two of them unable to agree on the legality of having a spiral staircase, and finally telling him to decide himself.
Inspectors said parts of the website had to be written exclusively in Greek, and the team vainly tried to explain that hardly anyone outside Greece was able to read the alphabet, and that the site was intended for foreign customers.
Finally they insisted that since it was a food business, Anonopoulos and his partners should submit lung X-rays and stool samples.
Of course, Mr. Antonopoulos had refused to pay what is known as the 'speed tax': the bribes needed to bypass regulations, even necessary ones.
Humorous though it is, there is a lesson here for all of us. Greek unemployment is 50% and getting worse, yet regulations mean that new businesses find it difficult or impossible to get going. The same is true in Italy and Spain, and true to a smaller extent in all other European economies. Encouraging growth, which is the buzzword at the moment, is not just a question of government spending and the money supply.
It is a question of making your country an attractive place in which to do business.