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Friday, November 02, 2012

Another disastrous budget for Greece

This week saw the release of the Greek budget plan for 2013-2016 and it did not make for happy reading. The English version is yet to be released but below we reproduce some of the key facts and figures from the Greek report. The table below essentially sums up the report and the crushing blow it delivers to hopes of a Greek recovery:

Debt peaking at a 192% of GDP in 2014! Astonishing given that less than six months ago the EU/IMF/ECB Troika seemed supremely confident that Greek GDP could stabilise at 120% of GDP by 2020 and would peak in 2013 at only 167% of GDP. (It’s also worth checking out this FT Alphaville post which highlights just how wrong some of the previous estimates were).

It’s easy to say that Greece failed to fully implement reforms and adhere to the bailout conditions (which it did) but at some point the failure of policies themselves and the fudging of the numbers must be admitted.

To many of us all of this was already abundantly clear but the release of the official figures confirming it at least ensures that the political debate will need to be moved on – expect ‘Grexit’ discussions to return to the headlines with a vengeance.

There are also a few interesting nuggets in the budget which suggest to us that further revisions may be likely:
  • Firstly, unemployment is expected to go from 22.4% this year to 22.8% next year and then decline to 17.1% in 2016. It’s hard to see how this can happen with both government and private spending expected to fall over this period, while there will also be plenty of labour market reforms which tend to increase unemployment, at least in the short term. 
  • Despite dropping by 15% this year, investments are expected to fall by only 3.7% next year and then return to growth. Again this seems massively optimistic without a permanent fiscal transfer supporting Greece and remove the cloud of a Grexit which continues to deter investors. 
  • Exports are expected to grow at an increasing rate over the next five years, despite the eurozone and the global economy potentially posting low levels of growth. 
  • Private consumption is expected to fall by 7% next year (after 7.7% this year), and yet this is expected to be consistent with a 4.5% contraction in GDP rather than a 6.5% one seen this year. Combined with falling government spending and structural reform this is again hard to imagine. 
  • Table 2.5 highlights what could happen if Greece does not implement its medium term fiscal strategy (aka. its austerity packages and structural reforms), putting debt at 220% of GDP in 2016. This highlights how easily the levels could once again veer off track if many of these unrealistic targets are not met. 
As we mentioned in our recent note, a two year extension will be far from enough for Greece and this budget further reinforces that fact. With it now out in the open, discussions over the next few weeks should focus on more than just Greece’s next two years, but the fundamental decision of whether Greece belongs in the euro.


Rik said...

More interesting to see which hogwash will be presented to justify further payment. And which future problems will arise because of that.

Will go further this way till roughly being so much cheaper than its direct competition (Turkey, Bulgaria, Rumenia) that the negatives of an Grexit are compensated.
We are far from that point (costs are still higher and considerably, wages, tax and other). Devaluation likely 60-70% may be more and with a >50% probability). A lot to be compensated.
This is real investors the ones that create real jobs not the financial ones that can leave within a day.Seen from that angle it is clear that Euro membership is simply not sustainable.

Rollo said...

If the EU had any decency, they would help Greece exit from the destuctive Eurozone. But they have not; and will continue to torture the Greeks to save their own religious belief in the EU. The longer it goes on, the worse it will get, for every country in Europe.

christina speight said...

Rollo is right. Greece is bering tortured and wrecked tp save the faces of the top eurocrats whose religion is European federal unity via the euro.

Greece's only hope at all is to face the storm and quit the euro . The immediate chaos will be considerable but from then the country can recover with complete freedom of action. All these 'bail-outs' make it worse and prolong the agony.

Idris Francis said...

Rollo and Christina are right, and there is no limit if impoverishment and civil strife to which the EU elite will go to try to save their currency and their intended State.

That being the case, and that being the mentality, the dogma and the intention of the EU, my question to Open Europe is simply this - Just how much longer, in defiance of this and a great deal more evidence, do you intent to continue arguing that Britain should remain in this totalitarian, authoritarian, terminally incompetent and terminally corrupt organisation? Rather like arguing for belonging to the Mafia for the economic benefits?

Talking of economic benefits, Professor Tim Congdon, now a leading light in UKIP, has just published what no UK Government has ever dared publish so far, a cost/benefit analysis of Britain's EU Membership - showing a net annual cost of the order of £150bn pa or 10% of GDP.

See also, for one of the best sumamries of the devastation caused by the euro and EU, and the certainty if their collapse, see http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/NJ31Dj01.html