GIG Economic Bulletin – September 19, 2022

Despite progress on the economic front, Greece’s return to investment grade has been held back by geopolitical risks. NBG has revised its growth forecast upwards by 1.5-2%, with nominal GDP expected to return to 2011 levels.

Economic BulletinInsights
As bond yields continue to climb and the knock-on effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine deepen across European economies, ratings agencies Moody’s and DBRS refrained from upping their rating of Greek debt. Meanwhile, Greece’s cross-ministerial committee approved a landmark €226.4 million energy project led by UK-backed Bluesky300 IKE combining solar power, battery energy storage, and green hydrogen production.

Macro

Moody’s held its rating of Greek debt at Ba3, three steps below investment grade, with a stable outlook. DBRS also maintained its rating at BB with a stable outlook, one step below investment grade on its scale. On the positive side, the ratings agencies noted Greece’s commitment to fiscal discipline and the cleaning up of the systemic banks’ balance sheets. However, they pointed to risks arising from inflation, rising rates, and the threat to energy supplies from Russia.

NBG significantly revised its 2022 growth forecast from 4% to 5.5-6%, while next year is seen at 2-2.5%, one percentage point lower than its previous prediction. GDP is expected to reach €207 billion for the first time since 2011, pushing the debt-to-GDP ratio down to 170%.

Greece’s non-seasonally adjusted quarterly unemployment rate resumed a downward path in Q2 this year, falling to 12.4% from 13.8% in Q1, according to figures from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

Business turnover was up 39.3% Y-o-Y in Q2 according to ELSTAT. The biggest increase was in hospitality and catering where sales grew by 128.8% Y-o-Y.

The import price index recorded a rise of 28.1% Y-o-Y in July, according to data released by ELSTAT. The average 12-month increase was 30% compared to 4.3% over the previous 12-month period.

Bond yields continued to climb, with short-term maturities coming under more pressure as the markets anticipate further tightening by the Fed. Mid-week Greek benchmarks were 4.26% for the 10-year and 3.39% for the five-year.

Energy

A solar power station combined with a Li-ion battery energy storage facility and a green hydrogen production plant was one of two strategic projects approved by the cross-ministerial committee. The project which will be implemented by UK-backed Bluesky300 IKE, has a budget of €226.4 million.

Greece looks set to keep the mechanism for skimming excess profits from electricity producers if the EU member states approve the Commission’s proposal for a €180/MWh cap on non-natural gas generation, which is a variant of the existing Greek scheme.

Athens has voiced its position in favour of an emergency levy on refiners based on their 2022 profits. According to sources, the government intends to implement the measure even if it is not agreed EU-wide.

PPC, DEPA Commercial, and Copelouzos Group are in advanced discussions for a joint venture to build a new 840-MW gas-fired power station in Alexandroupolis.

Infrastructure

Container traffic at Piraeus Port was down by -10% in the first seven months of the year compared to the same period in 2021. The total came to 2.5 million containers compared to 2.8 million last year.

The Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) has published a proposal for the creation of a Smart Bridges Network based on IoT technology. The project has a budget of €156.2 million and is supported by RRF funds.

Ellinika Idatodromia received approval for the first seaplane port in Attica at the port of Lavrio.

HRADF’s Project Preparation Facility and the Church of Greece have signed a MoU for the creation of a major logistics centre on church property at Schisto.

Real Estate

Bank of Greece data shows that the property market is quickly regaining the ground it lost during the big crisis, with prices in Attica up by 44.6% since Q2 2018, now just 18% from the peak seen in 2008. Prices across Greece for the same period are up by 31.2%. 

Athens has a 48-kilometer coastline called the Apollo Coast. Copyright: Aerial-motion / Shutterstock

The threshold for securing the golden visa is being raised from €250,000 to €500,000 as the government tries to free up more properties at the lower end of the scale for Greeks trying to get on the property ladder.

The consortium of SMER-Laskaridis-Brown Hotels has won the bidding for Intrum’s Project Tethys, a portfolio of loans secured on 72 hotels.

Tourism

The 14 regional airports managed by Fraport showed a 2.2% increase in passenger arrivals in the first eight months of the year compared to the same period in 2019. The total number of passengers came to 22.2 million.

Flagship air carrier Aegean Airlines returned to profitability in Q2, with net profits of €10.8 million. Passenger numbers were up by 171% compared to 2021, and turnover increased by 201%.

Digital

With the addition of NovaWind’s €2-billion investment programme, the total committed investment in digital infrastructure projects reaches €7 billion, focussing primarily on FTTH and 5G.

Accenture has inaugurated its new technology centre in Thessaloniki to coincide with the Thessaloniki International Fair. The centre employs 200 people and is aiming to hire another 300 by 2025.

Banks

WOOD and Co. has joined Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in issuing a “buy” recommendation for Greek banks. The report identifies five key issues including the sustainability of the recent credit expansion, the increase in interest income, and the prospect of lower growth.

Stock Market

The ASE general index retreated marginally by -0.68% on a weekly basis to close Friday 16 September at 836.17 points. Large caps fell by -0.66%, while banks edged up by 0.2%.

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