Macro roundup: Everything's up

Building activity and industrial production are up, but so too are prices

Greece’s inflation print on Wednesday showed that the EU-harmonized index of consumer prices rose 2.8 percent in October. That’s quite a bit lower than the reading of 4.1 percent for the euro area as a whole, but it does put Greece in the club of countries with a reading above the ECB’s target of 2 percent.

Further up the chain, Elstat released data today showing that import prices in industry increased 26 percent in September from a year earlier, an upswing from August, when the index increased 18.7 percent.

I suspect we’ll be talking a lot more about inflation in the weeks and months ahead. So for this week’s focus I wrote instead about something else that’s going up: industrial production. Greece’s economy is starting to look like it’s on stronger footing than it was before the pandemic.

Firing up industry
Earlier this year it was tempting to dismiss surging growth rates in industrial production as merely the result of base effects from last year’s lockdown, but it’s now clear that output is outstripping its pre-pandemic levels. Industrial production grew 9.7 percent from a year earlier in September, down slightly from 10 percent in August, and well below …
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Finally, the expansion in building activity continued in August, with the number of permits issued increasing 12.7 percent compared with the same month a year earlier. For the first eight months of the year, the increase was 29.1 percent compared with the same period of 2020.

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Next week’s key data

Monday, Nov. 15:
  • January-October central government budget execution (Finance Ministry)

Wednesday, Nov. 17:
  • September unemployment (Elstat)

Friday, Nov. 19:
  • September balance of payments (Bank of Greece)

Elsewhere on the web

  • The European Commission released its autumn forecasts this week, and they’re more upbeat on Greece.

  • Here’s a policy paper from the Levy Institute on the impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector, and the distributional impact of the recovery.

  • Last week I linked to a really interesting post by Ryan Avent on labour shortages and automation (“Revenge of the robots”, here it is again if you missed it). With that piece in mind, here’s a headline this week: “North American companies rush to add robots as demand surges”.

  • Thessaloniki gets the culinary recognition it deserves, becoming an UNESCO-designated City of Gastronomy (disclaimer: I may be a bit biased when it comes to praising Thessaloniki).

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