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Friday, 13 December 2013

Greece in charts: How the situation in Greece is still deteriorating, in spite of the cautious economic growth that is emerging these months.

Last Tuesday, 10 December 2013, BNR News Radio had an item on its website about the trip of the troika (IMF, ECB and EU) to Greece:

This Tuesday, the examinators of Greece’s international sponsors go back to this country, which has been so severely hit by the crisis. Their task is to investigate the current status of the structural reforms that were demanded by the troika.

This has been announced in Brussels by Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, in his role as chairman of the Euro-group.

The Euro-group has studied the continuing problems with Greece. Until now the international sponsors refused another financial injection to the tormented country, dissatisfied as they were with the Greek state budget for 2014, that had been passed in parliament last weekend.

Dijsselbloem stated this Monday, “to be very much aware of the efforts that Greece makes to make cut back expenses and of the difficult political situation” in the country.

How difficult the situation still is in Greece, became clear in a radio news item that journalist Pieter Gautier of BNR made yesterday (click the link for the original quotes in Dutch).

Here is the transcript from  Pieter’s interview with two pundits about the current economic situation in Greece:

“Ordinary Greeks notice very little from the recovery of the Greek economy, in spite of the fact that the biggest slump is over and the economic data slowly improves. At the moment, unemployment is still soaring and people are exhausting their reserves at an alarming speed.

Nevertheless, certain industries in Greece are already growing indeed and, as a consequence of these improvements, the Greek government is even reckoning with moderate overall growth in 2014. 

This, however, does not count for the average Greek, as his personal situation has only been deteriorating. The Greeks are not doing good at all at the moment.

The plummeting economy has had enormous consequences for the country itself. The whole economy is busted, as a matter of fact, and the retail industry and small and medium enterprises have both been blown away by the economic slump.

Unemployment is gargantuous and taxes are skyrocketing everywhere. Many, many people have missed the boat. Many families have absolutely minimal budgets for living. Adult children start to live with their parents again and sometimes their parents even start to live with theirs again, in order to save as much money as possible.

People, who have been unemployed for a long time and who started with some reserves, are now getting desperate. There is no positive outlook for most people. Some people become homeless and must even beg for money for necessities, like bread and milk. This is unique in the history of Greece.

Even in the large shopping streets there is no sign of economic recovery whatsoever. All shops that had been closed earlier, are still waiting for new tenants. There is no new business activity. There have been some new initiatives recently, but only at a very small scale. Only the export industry shows some moderate growth”.

These statements by the Greek insiders in Pieter Gautier’s interview show, how hard the crisis hit Greece and how cold and ignorant the reaction of the European Union has been until now.

Yes of course, the rich and unscrupulous Greek citizens who stashed their black money in foreign banks in time, the numerous tax dodgers and the tens of thousands of corrupted politicians and state officials, all have blood on their hands from the hard-working Greek population, who just want to live without worries and fears. But so has the European Union…

Irrespectively whether the Greeks ‘deserved’ this economic hardship for their economic irresponsibility in the beginning of this century or not; the European Union did let down and even ‘betrayed’ Greece! 

They did so by putting the nearly defaulted country through a period of economic starvation, in which the country just received enough money from the European Union to pay back the banks in the other European countries. No money for economic rebuilding and no options for solving the enormous budget crisis.

Too little has been done about:
  • making the Greek economy more sturdy and competitive;
  • fighting the soaring Greek (youth) unemployment;
  • helping the Greeks to reduce their massive debt via a sturdy, but viable action plan;
  • seriously pushing and helping the Greeks to fight the widespread corruption and tax evasion, as a mandatory reciprocation for the aid funds from the EU/IMF/ECB troika;
  • making sure that the poorest groups in Greece received a fair minimal income to live from. 
Instead, the (North) European government leaders continuously bashed the Greeks for their irresponsible financial / economic behavior in the past and their enormous state debts. The dubious role of many large European banks in the Greek drama has been ‘swept under the rug’.

Every time, Greece has to raise its hand – as a beggar – for a new and relatively small part of the aid funds, in return for inhumane and mindless austerity measures that actually kick the Greek economy further in the dirt. This is a true disgrace.

To see how the Greek economy is doing at the moment, I created a few charts, representing some of the fundamentals in the Greek economy and  based on data from Eurostat:

Greek GDP between 2002 and 2013
Data courtesy of Eurostat
Click to enlarge
Greek imports and exports between 2002 and 2013
Data courtesy of Eurostat
Click to enlarge
Greek (youth) unemployment data between 2001 and 2013
Data courtesy of Eurostat
Click to enlarge

M-o-M growth of food and non-food sales between 2002 and 2013
Data courtesy of Eurostat
Click to enlarge
Working empoverished people in Greece
Data courtesy of Eurostat
Click to enlarge
Development of poverty in Greece
Data courtesy of Eurostat
Click to enlarge

All these charts show in a different way how the Greek economy has suffered from the economic hardship since 2008. 

Experts think that it might take until 2016-2017, until the average Giorgios-in-the-street notices the economic growth that cautiously kicked in. This is a very long time, for a country that suffered so hard.

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