Elena Panaritis – Press Kit

Elena Panaritis

Innovative thinking and the commitment to deliver results, mark her entire career. For Elena, change is a matter of (i) identifying the key issues that get markets and societies stuck; (ii) designing solutions to “unstuck” them; (iii) convincing the shareholders of the appropriateness of the solution; (iv) implementing the solution. It is this 360-degree pursuit that has enabled Elena to create new spaces of entrepreneurial endeavor and policy dialogue. She has developed a methodology Reality Check Analysis to successfully transform informality. Her work, as innovative as it is successful, ranges from tackling informality of property rights in Peru, Bulgaria, and other countries, to designing and proposing market reforms for countries stuck in informality and debt crises.
Elena is a Change Maker with a track record. Guided by a strong passion and a relentless pursuit to promote change, she has improved the lives of millions of people by weaving economic theory and practice on the ground – as an economist, entrepreneur, and policy innovator.

Guided by an unwavering commitment to positive change and that to be a path maker, Elena spearheaded award-winning reforms and products that can empower citizens (innovation and international best practice recognition by the World Bank and the United States Government). Her work in Peru is a shining example. She succeeded in bringing over 17 million Peruvians and billions of their informal assets into the formal economy. They all became part of all sorts of new financial and non financial products accelerating the growth of the market and the economy. The initial pivot was a major “trend change.” Her perseverance paid off. The actual implementation took only 3 years! Elena introduced socio-economic impact analysis in the 1990s to measure the outcome of such change. She documented a value creation of at least 200 multiple (a 60MUSD loan for the creation of formal property rights gave a property value return of 1.7BUSD), yet also an increase in trust among the citizens the State and the banking system; an increase in social capital; a reduction of the probability of child labor; a wider and stronger middle class and democracy; as well as an increase in investment and security of ownership among the disenfranchised (see chapter 5 of Prosperity Unbound.)

This impact assessment became the basis for a domino effect of such reforms in more countries. Elena is now working on the application of her methodology and the private use of formalized assets data. The possibility became apparent for changing informality-stricken economies to bring about sustainable growth, robust markets, and stronger middle classes. Today, more than 70% of the world’s population lives and works on informal property arrangements estimated at 9 trillion USD dollars in asset size. 


Here’s what fellow economists are saying about Elena’s work:


Paul Romer, Nobel laureate Economics 2018. He has developed the concept of Charter Cities, has hailed the importance of her work, recognizing that Elena’s reforms engendered trust” and “sparked enthusiasm” for the opening of new markets.

Robert Litan, Director of Research for Bloomberg Government, former Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute and Vice President for Research and Policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurship calls her work “a real contribution.”

Willem Buiter, Chief Economist of CitiGroup Global, singles out “useless” and “harmful” finance based on derivatives to task and writes that “effective and efficient financial intermediation is a necessary condition for prosperity.” In contrast, he refers to Elena’s work as “useful finance” and continues: “The world described [in Prosperity Unbound], where the foundations of a productive market economy are being put in place, appears light years removed from the world of Wall Street …” in his Financial Times Blog. He further wrote Elena’s work brings a rather unique perspective to institutional economics. In contrast to the many who just talk and write about the subject, she is one of the very few practitioners in the field – although she also writes and talks about it very well. She developed and applies a method of transforming economically distressed communities (communities whose economic activities are largely confined to informal markets) in both developing and developed countries.” 






Elena Panaritis is an entrepreneur, economist, and policy innovator. A leader and value creator of untapping informal assets.


Elena created new product-lending lines for the World Bank and spearheaded several socioeconomic reforms; including property rights reform. She has been recognized with honors and awards for her unique contribution to transform crisis stricken markets/economies for people who live in informality, receiving International Best Practice and Innovation awards both by the World Bank and the US Government; only from her reform application in Peru, over 17 Million people benefited while the investment return exceeded the 200 multiple.


Elena’s reform methods have changed the way people and policymakers think about them; and specifically about structural reforms. As an economist she pioneered triple bottom -line entrepreneurship, she is renowned for her success in transforming informal markets into vibrant, growing formal economic and social entities. Her book Prosperity Unbound: Building Property Markets with Trust (Palgrave Macmillan) maps out a new development process, recounts her experience, and expands on her methodology- “Reality Check Analysis”, which is considered one of the best practical applications of institutional economics. 


Until recently she served as a senior economic advisor, handling the Euro and Greek Economic Crisis, to two Greek Governments (2009; 2015) in 2015 she also served as the Special Envoy for Negotiating the Greek Sovereign debt and lending program of Greece. Elena worked directly with the Greek Prime Ministers and the Minister of Finance, as well as high-level officials of the EU the IMF lenders to Greece, and US high level officials. In 2009 she was appointed as an honorary Member of the Hellenic Parliament from which position she resigned in 2012.


She is the founder of Panel Group, a triple bottom-line business that focuses in the informal sector (distressed cities and markets), transforming the wealth base of poor property holders, to proud middle class owners. She has also founded Thought4Action, an Action Tank that works as an educational foundation to create awareness and calls for action, about transforming informality and countries under solvency crisis. Elena Panaritis has taught innovation in applied economics, housing finance and property markets reform courses at Stanford, the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania, INSEAD, and the Johns Hopkins University- School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She has degrees from Johns Hopkins SAIS, INSEAD, and The American College of Athens, she speaks Spanish, English, French, Italian, and has basic knowledge of German.


Elena Panaritis in the News

Interviews and Talks


TALKS (selected)







From Brussels to Bombay: The euro crisis could spread,” INSEAD Knowledge Magazine (20 July 2012)

‘The Johns Hopkins SAIS Bologna alumni magazine’ Social Entrepreneur. Rivista Online, Winter/Spring 2010



Is there growth in Europe or is there wishful thinking?’ (with economist Sir Christopher Pisarides)

Euroscepticism in Europe

Just Like Sisyphus, Greeks Are Forever Pushing That Boulder Up the Hill

Cyprus Bailout: A Really Bad Deal

Debt Forgiveness Is Inevitable and Will Save the Euro

Greece Is at the Crossroads With the IMF in Tow

Why Europe Is Failing to Prevent the Spread of the Euro Crisis 

What Does a France Downgrade Mean for Europe’

‘Institutional Reforms Can Lead Greece Out of the Crisis’


Bruised and confused: why Greeks voted against the gods of Europe

Promote Greek entrepreneurship

Greece should not be forced to act alone’   



‘The Way Out of Greece’s Insolvency”  

‘The Path Ahead for Greece’

‘The Historical Roots of Greece’s Debt Crisis’

Now is Not the Time to Bet Against Greece

Greece’s Date with the Taxman



For more videos and interviews, visit Elena’s YouTube channel



www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gheB9LWmM0 www.prosperityunbound.com/worldbank_player.html


www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd_5eN1gGOU www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5PWV1PNhA0