News in Brief – March 2023
- Greek Economy − Greece’s economy grew at a better-than-expected 5.9% rate last year thanks to strong tourism, increased private consumption and rising investment activity, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority. The figure beat market expectations for a growth rate of 5.1% and the government’s forecast of 5.6%. Greece also outpaced much of Europe with last year’s growth above the Eurozone average of 3.5%.
- Export Growth – Greek merchandise exports jumped 30% on year in January to €4.4 billion, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, further extending the country’s decade-long export boom and following last year’s record €55 billion in exports. Excluding the value of ships and petroleum products, exports advanced 17.3% to €2.9 billion in January. In separately reported remarks, Panhellenic Exporters Association President Christina Sakellaridis predicted that, in the absence of adverse geopolitical developments, Greek merchandise exports could reach €70 billion this year.
- Jobs Growth − Greece’s unemployment rate in January fell to its lowest level in 14 years, the lowest since the start of the country’s financial crisis in early 2010, data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority showed. Overall unemployment dipped to 10.8% in January from 12.4% in December and 13.7% a year earlier, and with a corresponding decline in youth jobless rates.
- Mergers & Acquisitions − Merger and acquisition activity in Greece soared by some 250% last year with the value of deals exceeding €10 billion, according to a new report by international consultancy PwC. The increase reflects the growing investment activity in Greece from both domestic and foreign investors. According to PwC most deals were in the financial services, food & beverage, and energy sectors, followed by the technology, media and telecom industries. The average size of the transactions nearly doubled from year-earlier levels to €110 million, PwC said.
- Greek Equities – Greek stocks outpaced most other European bourses, rising by close to 10% in the first quarter and with the Athens Stock Exchange General Index holding around the psychologically important 1,000 point level. Market analysts say that Greece’s strong economic prospects and the improving profitability of listed companies have helped buoy Greek stocks despite volatility on global markets, making the Athens bourse one of the best performers in the world so far this year.
- Credit Rating − Greece could regain its investment-grade credit rating this year, Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras said in an interview with the Financial Times. “We think that 2023 is the year we will get the investment grade,” Mr. Stournaras said and urged that Greece’s government continue to maintain a prudent fiscal policy. Greece’s credit rating was reduced to junk status 12 years ago at the onset of the Greek financial crisis. Separately, international credit ratings agency Moody’s has upgraded its outlook for the country to “positive” from “stable”.
- Tobacco Investment – Tobacco giant Philip Morris International will invest €200 million to increase its production capacity at its factory in Aspropyrgos, west of Athens. The four new production lines will help boost exports for the company and are expected to add 300 jobs.
- Innovation Index − Greece was one of the best performers in Europe in adopting new, innovative practices over the past seven years, according to a special innovations index put together by the European Commission. According to the 2022 European Innovation Scoreboard, Greece scored 80.2% in boosting its innovation performance, improving 24 percentage points since 2015.
- Retirement Destination – Greece was ranked at the best place for retirees according to UK life insurance brokers Reassured. The broker analyzed six key factors most people consider when they’re thinking about retiring abroad including cost of living, cost of accommodation, cost of transport, annual levels of sunshine, life expectancy, and total population over 65.