GIG Economic Bulletin – March 15, 2021

Greece unveiled plans to reopen tourism on May 14 with enhanced health protocols. PPC’s first sustainability-linked bond was six times oversubscribed, with offers exceeding €3 billion.

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With the tourism sector accounting for approximately 20% of Greece’s economy, the government’s plans to welcome travellers on May 14 bodes well for the country’s economy. Meanwhile, leading power company PPC’s successful sustainability-linked bond issue is seen as a vote of confidence, and the Port of Piraeus was Europe’s fourth busiest container port in 2020.

Macro

Greek bank NBG expects the economy to shrink in Q1 2021 by -9.5% Y-o-Y, while the remainder of the year will see growth of 10%, producing an annual growth figure of 4.7.%. Tax refunds and other government support measures are seen as a major factor in staving off a deeper recession in 2020, which could have reached as low as -14% according to analysts’ estimates.

The trade deficit shrank by -23.8% Y-o-Y in January according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). Imports fell by -16.7% Y-o-Y to €3.95 billion, while exports decreased at a lower rate of -12.1% to €2.51 billion, producing a deficit of €1.44 billion.

Inflation fell by -1.3% Y-o-Y in February according to ELSTAT’s CPI index, following a -2% drop in January, marking the eleventh consecutive month of deflation.

Industrial production rose by 3.4% Y-o-Y in January compared to a 3.5% increase in December according to ELSTAT. The leaders were electricity supply which rose by 10.8% and mining and quarrying with a 10.1% increase, while manufacturing rose by 1%. According to the European Commission’s business survey, industry confidence fell by -0.6 points M-o-M in January, and -15.1 points Y-o-Y.

Fiscal

Emergency pandemic spending pushed total public debt in 2020 over the government’s revised target of €370 billion by over €4 billion. Borrowing was, however, constrained by the use of cash reserves built up over previous years.

Tourism

The government is making plans to reopen tourism on May 14 under enhanced Covid protocols, following a pilot season in April.

Ports

Piraeus was Europe’s fourth busiest container port in 2020 with 5.4 billion TEU, behind Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg. Container traffic was down -3.8% compared to 2019, while collectively Europe’s top 15 ports lost -2.8% of their traffic.

Piraeus Port Copyright: Aerial-motion / Shutterstock.com

Green Economy

PPC’s sustainability-linked bond raised between €500 and €650 million, in the company’s first debt issue in seven years. The issue was six times oversubscribed with offers repeatedly exceeding €3 billion. The bond is linked to PPC’s annual carbon reduction targets through 2026, which the company plans to deliver through its de-lignitisation strategy, accompanied by investments of €3.4 billion including a large-scale renewable energy programme.

Energy

IGI Poseidon, the joint venture behind the planned EastMed gas pipeline, took one step closer to making the strategic project a reality by signing an addendum to the 2019 MoU with Israel Natural Gas Lines Company (INGL).

Banks

Eurobank posted a yearly loss of €1.21 billion in 2020 from the bank’s restructuring and the Cairo securitisation. The loss, which is the biggest for the bank since 2014, reflects the cost of cleaning up its balance sheet and halving its NPE ratio to 14%. Adjusting for one-offs, Eurobank made a net profit of €544 million, up from €257 million in 2019.

Eurobank announced a new securitisation for 2021, called “Mexico”, which will consist of about €3.3 billion of loans, aiming to bring its NPE ratio down to 9% this year and 6% in 2022.

Real Estate

Average house prices in Greece increased by 4.2% in 2020, compared to 7.2% in 2019, with the last quarter’s increase marking 12 consecutive quarters of Y-o-Y property price increases according to a report by the Bank of Greece. The biggest increases were seen in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Covid-19 Measures

The government announced a further round of measures to support businesses and workers through April, as the lockdown was extended by one week to March 22. A total €2.5 billion has been earmarked for the latest package, taking the cost of measures for 2021 to €11.6 billion, while the entire pandemic support package so far totals €35.6 billion.

Stock Market

The ASE general index closed the week with gains of 3% at 849.81 points after briefly surpassing 850 points on Thursday. The banking sector notched up gains of 3.24%, while the FTSE 25 closed up 3.08%.

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