Macro roundup: Greece's external gap balloons
Tourism recovery was not enough to stop current account deficit hitting 13-year high
Greece’s current account deficit last year came to 20.1 billion euros, the most since 2010, the year when the financial crisis forced the country to seek a bailout package from the rest of the euro area and the International Monetary Fund.
It’s well documented that the country’s worsening external position is due to the spike in energy prices and the resultant deterioration in Greece’s terms of trade. The 7.3 billion-euro increase in the oil deficit alone between 2021 and 2022 outweighed the 7.1 billion-euro boost to travel receipts, negating the heralded recovery in that sector.
Still, even adjusting for price increases, goods imports grew 16.9 percent at constant prices while exports grew 4.3 percent. Imports and exports of non-oil goods increased 15.5 percent and 7 percent respectively at constant prices.
Turning back again to the rebound in travel receipts — this probably also owes some part to inflation when the figure are compared with their 2019 high.
Whereas travel receipts of 17.6 billion euros last year were just 3 percent lower than they were in 2019, the number of visitors to Greece dropped by 11 percent. But those that came each spent 619 euros on average, compared with 564 euros in 2019.
When charted, the eye is caught by the 12 percent drop in average spending per trip between 2021 and 2022. But if you take away the Covid-affected year before last, then average spending has been on an upward trajectory since 2018. That could partly be targeting more affluent tourists, but price rises would also have come into it
If you are enjoying this newsletter, then consider sharing Grecology with others.
Next week’s key releases
Monday, Feb. 27:
February economic sentiment indicator (European Commission)
Tuesday, Feb. 28:
January bank lending and deposits (Bank of Greece)
December retail sales (Elstat)
November building activity survey (Elstat)
January producer price index (Elstat)
January central government budget execution, final (Finance Ministry)
Wednesday, March 1:
February manufacturing PMI (S&P Global)
Friday, March 3:
January unemployment (Elstat)
I’d love to get your thoughts and feedback, either in the comments, on Twitter or by replying to the email. If you’re not subscribed yet, consider doing so.