News in Brief – April 2023
- Greek Elections − Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that the country would hold general elections on May 21. According to recent public opinion polls, the ruling New Democracy party leads the main opposition party Syriza but may not have enough votes to secure an outright majority in parliament. A second election may be held in early July if no clear winner or coalition emerges from next month’s vote.
- Economic Growth − Greece has revised upwards its official growth estimate for the economy this year thanks to continued strength in tourism and the country’s resilience to the energy crisis. Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said he now expects GDP to expand by 2.3% in 2023, up from a previous forecast of 1.8% that was incorporated in the government budget. Likewise, the Bank of Greece has increased its forecast for economic growth to 2.2% this year, up from 1.5% previously.
- Budget Surplus – Greece recorded a surprise primary budget surplus for 2022 equal to 0.1% of GDP, according to the latest data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority, compared with a government forecast of a 1.6% of GDP primary budget deficit. In 2021, Greece reported a primary budget deficit equal to 4.7% of GDP.
- Positive Outlook – International ratings agency Standard & Poor’s raised its outlook for Greece to ‘positive’ from ‘stable’, signaling that it may lift the country’s sovereign credit rating at its next review. The agency currently rates Greece at BB+, one notch below investment grade.
- Bond Sales – Greek bonds drew strong demand from international investors with a two back-to-back bond issues that were heavily subscribed despite turmoil in fixed income markets. Last month, the country raised €2.5 billion from a five-year bond issue that attracted some €20 billion in bids resulting in a lower than initially expected yield of 3.9%. This month, Greece reopened a 10-year bond, raising €300 million amid €1.7 billion in demand.
- Marble Exports − Greek marble exports have tripled in the last decade, according to an announcement by the country’s marble producers’ association, with Greece emerging as the European Union’s second largest marble exporter after Italy. According to the association, Greek marble products are shipped to more than 120 countries around the world, with some 60% going to China, the U.S., the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
- Athens Casino – Greece’s Council of State has approved plans to relocate the Mont Parnes Casino to the northern Athens suburb of Marousi, a move that is expected to boost development prospects in the northern suburbs of the Greek capital. The €200 million investment project envisions the creation of a mixed-used development comprising a luxury hotel, entertainment venues, a conference center and exhibition halls in addition to the casino.
- Housing Policy − The Greek government has formally launched its special, €500 million housing program to help young families acquire their first homes. The program provides subsidized loans and other assistance to those aged between 25-39 years old struggling to find affordable housing. Initial data shows that the first 600 applications have already been approved by the country’s banks, with total applications for support reaching 14,000.