GIG Economic Bulletin – 22 November 2021

September unemployment declined to 2010 levels, and the Greek government revised its official growth projection for 2021 from 6.1% to 6.9%. The draft budget sees growth boosted by double-digit increases in investment spending and exports, both this year and the next.

Economic BulletinInsights
A new report by McKinsey dubbed “Net Zero Greece” predicts some €500 billion in investments will be needed for Greece to reach its climate goals by 2050, prioritising green R&D, and opportunities in offshore wind, the hydrogen supply chain, and e-mobility. Greece’s Golden Visa programme is returning to the limelight following a period of stagnating owed to the pandemic, while the Government’s draft budget forecasts an increase in economic growth on the back of upturns in investment spending and exports.

Macro

The draft budget published on Friday forecasts 6.9% growth in 2021 – up from 6.1% in the previous official projection – slowing down to 4.5% in 2022. Debt is expected to stand at 197% of GDP in 2021, reducing to just under 190% next year, while the primary budget deficit is forecast at 7.3% in 2021, and 1.2% in 2022. Investments are expected to increase by 11.7% in 2021 and 21.9% in 2022, while exports are expected to go up by 14.1% and 11.1% over this year and the next.

In its latest forecast UBS sees growth at 7.9% this year, 5% in 2022, and 4.7% in 2023. The bank’s analysts also expect Greece to significantly reduce its deficit to 3.5% from 9.5% and the debt ratio down to 180% by the end of 2023.

Morgan Stanley sees strong growth this year but also risks in the absorption of RRF resources, noting that the scale of the programme of the RRF, and the dependency on the Greek growth trajectory, creates risks. The bank forecasts 7.9% growth in 2021, slowing down to 2.7% for 2022 and 2023.

Unemployment dropped to 13% in September according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), from 13.9% in August. The figure is the lowest recorded since August 2010 at the start of the debt crisis, while the same month last year unemployment stood at 16.5%. The number of people in employment increased by 140,800 Y-o-Y bringing the total number to 4.08 million.

October’s jobs balance was negative, with 230,000 new hirings and 300,000 departures, as the tourism season drew to a close and pandemic support measures expired. Over the first 10 months of the year the balance is positive by 214,800 jobs.

The current account deficit narrowed in September to €176.7 million compared to €446 million in the same month of 2020. According to the Bank of Greece (BoG), the improvement is mostly due to the performance of the services sector. Over the first nine months of 2021, the deficit stands at €5.59 billion, compared to €8.35 billion over the equivalent period of 2020.

Industrial turnover jumped by 39.6% Y-o-Y in September, on the heels of a 31.6% increase in August, according to ELSTAT. The latest in a series of impressive readings is the result of a 40.4% rise in manufacturing revenue and a 14.7% increase in the mining and quarrying index.

Business revenues came in at just below €91.5 billion in Q3 2021, up by 26.9% from the same quarter last year, led by tourism where sales jumped by almost 80%. Quarterly revenues approached pre-pandemic levels, coming close to those of Q3 2019.

The import price index was up by 26% in September according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). Prices of imports from outside the eurozone were up by 40.2%, while prices of eurozone imports were up by 5.5%.

Privatisations

Privatisation fund HRADF’s Asset Development Plan explores alternative scenarios for HELPE, EYDAP and EYATH. The sale of 30% of Athens International Airport remains a key objective, while several ports and marinas, highways, and utility companies are included in the plan.

Green Investments

McKinsey’s “Net Zero Greece” report finds that a total of €500 billion – or €16.6 billion annually – will need to be invested to hit the target of net zero by 2050. As part of the investment, the report calls for €2.5 billion annually – or 1% of GDP – to be invested in green R&D. Offshore wind, the hydrogen supply chain, and e-mobility are among the sectors seen to offer the greatest investment opportunities.

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Real Estate

The latest figures suggest that the Golden Visa scheme is heating up again, with 747 new permits issued so far in 2021, compared to 938 in 2020 and 3,535 in 2019. In 2019, the scheme brought Greece €1.45 billion in FDI.

Project Terra by Piraeus Bank is expected to conclude in Q1 2022 with the disposal of around 3,000 properties worth around €1 billion. Alpha Bank is preparing to sell 51% of its property business, including 573 properties with a total value of over €500 under the codename Project Skyline.

Servicers

Servicers restructured 167,000 loans under their management worth a total €11 billion in the first nine months of the year, with substantial haircuts sometimes reaching 75%. Since July 2019, 564,000 loans with a volume of €32 billion have been restructured.

Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras urged the servicing companies at their annual meeting to accelerate debt restructuring for companies considered viable, and to make full use of the new legal framework for insolvency.

Banks

Talks are in progress between the government and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) about changes to the role of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), including its divestment from the systemic banks, governance issues and the veto right concerning key decisions and staff selection. The HFSF holds stakes in Greece’s systemic banks, on behalf of the Greek state, amounting to 40% of NBG, 27% of Piraeus Bank, 9% of Alpha Bank, and 1.4% of Eurobank.

Stock Market

The ASE general index closed the week at 915.02 points, locking in marginal weekly gains of 0.11% despite a sell-off on Friday following other European markets, in reaction to the announcement of a general lockdown in Austria. Total capitalisation approached €67, a new high for 2021.

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