Greek Data Updates

Edward Hugh is only able to update this blog from time to time, but he does run a lively Twitter account with plenty of Greece related comment. He also maintains a collection of constantly updated Greece data charts with short updates on a Storify dedicated page Is Greece's Economic Recovery Now in Ruins?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Building Activity in Greece

I'm trying to get a measure on the extent of the construction slowdown in Greece and its likely impact on the general level of economic activity in Greece. Building permits conceded give one indication. The latest data we have is from June. Looking at the chart, the slowdown from the middle of last year is clear enough.

The year on year growth graph also says it all I think.

We don't have too many other measures for Greece at this point, but the Greek Statistical Office do use cement output as a proxy for the level of construction, and a glass at the volumes used does tell its own story.

Even though in June and July there was a recovery from the lower level of earlier in the year (when remember the government deficit reduction was affecting civil engineering projects and the interest rate tightening at the ECB new home starts), the level is way down across the board from a year earlier, as can be seen clearly from the year on year chart.

And remember all of this is pre the sub-prime turbulence in August, since the latest month we have any kind of data here for in July.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Greek Deficit Outlook

The Greek government on Monday unveiled its 2008 draft budget, which aims to cut its deficit to 1.7 per cent of gross domestic product in an attempt to balance its public finances by 2010. Eurostat is reported to be near to large a big upward revision in the valuation of Greek GDP by 20 per cent or more. The effect of this will be to drive down the 2008 budget deficit-to-GDP ratio considerably.

The draft budget did not contain any big surprises. It counts on a projected double-digit increase in tax revenues and a smaller rise in expenditures to bring the general government budget deficit below 2 per cent of GDP in 2008 from an estimated 2.5 per cent this year.

This year’s budget deficit goal was set at 2.4 per cent of GDP, but spending overruns related to the destruction caused by the summer’s forest fires and the cost of general elections pushed it up to 2.5 per cent.

George Alogoskoufis, finance minister, told reporters the initial estimate for the direct cost of the fires on the 2007 budget was €300m (£209m, $428m), but this figure is expected to rise further.

The big question is what is now likely to happen to future Greek GDP growth? The government forecast is for the economy to grow by 4 per cent next year and by an anticipated 4.1 per cent this year following the 4.3 per cent recorded in 2006.

But there must be significant downside risk on all this in the current global and European climate. Especially given the dependence of the Greek economy on construction and its vulnerability to any global slowdown in the demand for shipping services, so all of this now needs to be watched carefully.