Showing posts with label Austerity measures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Austerity measures. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Greece’s Olive Oil Industry Offers a Lesson on Economic Hurdles

The country is a major producer of ‘green gold,’ but sells much of it in bulk
The Wall Street Journal

By Nektaria Stamouli | Photographs by Andrea DiCenzo for The Wall Street Journal
Dec. 18, 2017 5:30 a.m. ET
STREFI, Greece—Workers at Yiannis Skiadas ’ mountainside mill pressed prized Kalamata olives on a recent day to extract the thick, fragrant oil known regionally as “green gold”—most of which would get shipped abroad in bulk and blended into Italian olive oil.

Mr. Skiadas could earn almost three times as much by branding his oil and selling it himself. But that would require investing in every step from cultivation to marketing, and quick cash from Italian customers is appealing after a decade of economic pain in Greece.

“Thank God for the Italians,” he said.

Greek olive oil should be a shining example of the country’s export sector. Instead, it offers a lesson in why Greece remains deeply uncompetitive despite years of pressure to fix its economy.Greece has what should be significant competitive advantages, including a climate that is favorable for agriculture and a 22% drop in labor costs since 2010, around the start of the Greek debt crisis.

But the country has been unable to leverage its low cost base to pull itself out of economic malaise. The value of Greek exports fell last year, despite years of efforts aimed at promoting export-led growth. Just 2.5% of Greek enterprises are involved in export activity, according to a recent survey by Ernst & Young.

Bank lending is scarce in a country mired in debt. And Greece’s notoriously inefficient bureaucracy makes it time-consuming to secure health and safety approvals and export paperwork, according to Greek exporters.

Similar problems affect other Greek agricultural products from peaches to wine. Exports of textiles and household appliances have also slipped in recent years.

The failure of Greece’s olive-oil makers to break into the international market for branded oil is especially painful. Greece is the world’s No. 3 producer of olive oil, according to Eurostat, but just 4% of branded olive oil sold world-wide is Greek, according to a 2015 report by the National Bank of Greece .

The reason: Greek olive-oil producers have mostly stuck to making bulk oil, unable or unwilling to invest in making the branded product that can command lofty prices in foreign markets. Only 27% of Greek olive oil is exported as a branded product, compared with 50% from Spain and 80% from Italy.

“Greece hasn’t invested to create a brand name, as have Italy and Spain,” says Christina Sakellaridi, who heads the Greek Exporters Association. “Now it’s difficult to compete with them.”

By sticking with bulk oil rather than branded oil, Greece is forgoing about €250 million ($294 million) in revenue each year, according to the National Bank of Greece report, money the capital-starved country desperately needs.

Many Greek olive farms and mills are family-operated and have fewer than 10 employees, according to olive-growers’ associations. Their small size leaves them with little of the money and management skill needed to upgrade their products and establish a brand name.

For those who do invest, the payoff can be significant. Before the crisis, Georgios Skarpalezos sank money into new machinery for his mill. Now he makes extra virgin olive oil that he sells in, among other places, London’s Harrods department store. He makes as much as €4 a liter, while a middleman, usually an oil-mill owner, might make as little as 10 to 20 euro cents a liter on bulk oil.

“I cannot produce huge quantities, because I have to focus on the quality of the product,” said Mr. Skarpalezos, showing dark glass bottles designed to safeguard the oil.

Olive-oil producers also often need to import products such as Mr. Skarpalezos’ glass bottles and plastic caps.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Public debt, unemployment, big NPL pile weigh on Greece: central bank governor

Reuters Staff


ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s banks have shown progress in tackling a stockpile of non-performing loans, Bank of Greece governor Yiannis Stournaras said on Friday, but said it would remain a challenge for the country.

Greek banks are saddled with 103 billion euros in bad loans, equal to almost 60 percent of the economy, after years of financial crisis and crippling recession. The European Central Bank wants that reduced by 38 billion euros by the end of 2019.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Don't blame others for your problems, Germany's Schaeuble tells Greece

OCTOBER 25, 2017 / 12:03 AM / UPDATED 14 HOURS AGO

Reuters Staff



ATHENS (Reuters) - Outgoing German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble urged debt-wracked Greece to stop blaming others for its financial woes and stick to a reform agenda instead of relying on debt relief.

Schaeuble, a leading advocate of Greece’s tough austerity programs and one of Germany’s most powerful politicians, was elected speaker of its lower house of parliament on Tuesday.

The 75-year-old lawyer, whose no-nonsense approach on austerity made him a popular hate figure among Greeks, told Greek Skai TV that Athens must take responsibility for its fiscal difficulties and act on them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Greece Must Complete Most Pending Bailout Reforms by November-PM

By REUTERSSEPT. 18, 2017, 6:48 A.M. E.D.T.

The New York Times

ATHENS — Greece must complete most of the pending reforms agreed with its official creditors by November in order to speed up the conclusion of a key progress review and exit the bailout in time, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told his cabinet on Monday.

Greece's bailout progress is being reviewed by its lenders on a quarterly basis and the next review is expected to start in October. Tsipras has promised to make the country financially independent by 2018, when its third rescue programme expires.

The IMF Needs to Stop Torturing Greece

The fund should write down the country's debt, not demand another bank recapitalization.
By J. Kyle Bass

19 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017, 7:30 π.μ. EEST

“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” wrote the ancient Roman poet Virgil. In the 21st century, it’s the Greeks who should have been more careful about accepting offerings -- specifically from the International Monetary Fund, which is now torturing the country in a misguided effort to get its money back.

Greek officials have worked hard to shore up their economy and finances. From 2010 through 2016, the government achieved the all-but-impossible task of shrinking its primary budget deficit by nearly 18 percent of gross domestic product, and is finally in surplus. After a brutal contraction of almost 30 percent, the economy is exhibiting positive signs in almost every area -- industrial production, new automobile registrations, construction permits, tourist arrivals.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Breakingviews - Dixon: No escape from debtors’ prison for Greece

SEPTEMBER 11, 2017 / 4:51 PM
Hugo Dixon


Tinos, GREECE (Reuters Breakingviews) - Alexis Tsipras is desperate to avoid “suffocating supervision” of Greece’s actions when the country’s third bailout programme ends next August. At the weekend, he promised as much. But the best the Greek prime minister can hope for is that Athens will move from its current high-security prison to an open one – and that will happen only if he behaves.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The IMF Has Approved a $1.8 Billion Conditional Loan For Greece

10:31 PM ET
The International Monetary Fund on Thursday approved in principle a $1.8 billion standby loan arrangement for Greece, making a conditional commitment to help underpin the country's long-running bailout program for the first time in two years.

But the IMF's approval-in-principle means the fund will not make any money available until after it receives "specific and credible assurances" from Greece's European lenders to ensure the country's debt sustainability.
The approval is also conditional on Greece keeping its economic reforms on track. The current bailout, Greece's third since 2010, is now shouldered exclusively by European institutions.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Yes Greece Can

by Marcus Ashworth


July 19, 2017 8:08 AM EDT
Greece's hopes of returning to the debt markets after a three-year absence have been held up by one of its main creditors, the International Monetary Fund.Under the strict conditions of its bailout, the country's debt burden is still too high to contemplate selling more debt, according to the IMF. But there is a compromise option, which Greece should pursue.The Hellenic Republic had been laying the groundwork to issue as much as 4 billion euros ($4.6 billion) in five-year bonds after repaying 6 billion euros of its existing debt this week. But the funds to pay down that debt came from the European Stability Mechanism, so Greece's overall debt hasn't been reduced, simply extended.The IMF's opposition to issuing new debt doesn't stop Greece from shuffling its debt stack by lengthening maturities.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Greece expects minimum $456 mln offers in gas grid sale - newspaper

 Mon Jul 10, 2017 | 7:28am EDT


Greece expects potential investors will offer at least 400 million euros ($456 million) for a majority stake in its gas grid operator DESFA, Energy Minister George Stathakis said in an interview with Naftemporiki newspaper.

Greece, under pressure by EU lenders to conclude the sale as it has earmarked about 180 million euros of the proceeds in this year's budget, relaunched the tender in June after a 400 million euro deal with Azerbaijan state oil company SOCAR fell through over gas tariffs among other issues.

ESM Urges Greece to Ready Market Borrowing Strategy

By REUTERSJULY 10, 2017, 3:09 P.M. E.D.T.

The New York Times

BRUSSELS — Greece should develop a strategy for its return to market borrowing and raise private finance before its euro zone bailout programme ends in a year's time, the head of the European Stability Mechanism said on Monday.

Klaus Regling told reporters "Greece will not need that much borrowing from the markets in the future" once bailout funding via the ESM ends in August 2018. It would be required only to replace maturing debt, given Athens' predicted fiscal surpluses.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Euro Zone Set to OK Release of Loans to Greece This Week-EU Official

By REUTERSJULY 6, 2017, 3:21 P.M. E.D.T.

The New York Times

BRUSSELS — Eurozone creditors are set to give their final go-ahead to the release of loans to Greece on Friday under a political agreement reached in June, a euro zone official said on Thursday.

Greece needs new loans under its current 86 billion euro (76 billion pounds) bailout programme, the third since 2010, to pay debt due this month.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Britain Isn't Greece, Prime Minister

Enough austerity. The government can afford to raise spending where that would help the economy.
By The Editors
7 Ιουλίου 2017, 9:39 π.μ. EEST
Britain’s government isn’t due to announce a new budget until the autumn, but debate is already raging over public-sector pay. With Brexit bearing down, the embattled prime minister, Theresa May, will have to choose between making another embarrassing U-turn and defending a policy that is both unpopular and unnecessary.

Sadly for May, the U-turn makes better sense.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Greece Gets Investor Thumbs Up on Possible Return to Bond Market

By Sotiris Nikas  and Anchalee Worrachate
29 Ιουνίου 2017, 5:04 π.μ. EEST
A new issuance in the second half looks increasingly possible
Government is in contact with investors to test the waters


If Greece returns to the bond market this year, Mark Dowding would be a buyer.

“We have been bullish on Greece over the past year or so,” said the partner and portfolio manager at BlueBay Asset Management in London, which owns some long-dated Greek bonds. “We’ve also formed the view that lenders would remain committed to helping Greece. I feel relatively confident that Greece will be returning to market in the second half of this year.”

Greece eyes market return as debt dispute still simmering

The Washington Post

Derek Gatopoulos | AP June 28 at 11:12 AM

LAGONISSI, Greece — Greece is on target to tap bond markets for money again by the end of this year and exit its bailout program next summer, European creditors said Wednesday.

But a spat with the International Monetary Fund over how to deal with the country’s enormous debt showed no sign of being resolved swiftly.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Prime Real Estate On Fire Sale -- In Greece


Panos Mourdoukoutas ,   CONTRIBUTOR

A deep and prolonged economic contraction has placed prime real estate on fire sale in Greece, creating good opportunities for bargain hunters. But they may not last too long.

Buying prime real estate is all about good location and good timing. Good location is usually a place with a limited amount of land for development, like a city center or a waterfront. Good timing is a period when real estate in these places goes on fire sale due to catastrophic events or prolonged economic contractions.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Europe's Unserious Plan for Greece

The latest deal on debt won’t work, and everybody knows it.
By The Editors

21 Ιουνίου 2017, 9:00 π.μ. EEST

  • Grace periods come to an end. As interest rates creep up, Greece’s debt repayments will rise too. The perpetual primary surpluses creditors are demanding will squeeze the economy so hard that they’ll be self-defeating even in narrow fiscal terms.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Greece’s Open Wound of Division

Nikos Konstandaras JUNE 16, 2017

The New York Times

ATHENS — Many Greeks were surprised when a mild-mannered former prime minister who tried to use unity and consensus to lead the country out of an economic and political impasse was seriously injured by a parcel bomb last month.

What followed was even worse: The attack was not greeted with unanimous condemnation, suggesting that Greece has a long way to go to heal divisions that were exacerbated by the economic crisis, that have shaped politics and that obstruct efforts to get Greece on its feet.

EU's Wieser-Hope Greece Can Tap Markets by Spring 2018: ORF

By REUTERSJUNE 17, 2017, 7:30 A.M. E.D.T.

The New York Times

VIENNA — Thomas Wieser, the EU official who runs preparations for Eurogroup meetings, hopes Greece will be able to tap international markets for money between autumn this year and spring 2018, he told ORF radio on Saturday.

Greece blocks EU statement on China human rights at U.N.

Sun Jun 18, 2017 | 5:43pm EDT


By Robin Emmott and Angeliki Koutantou | BRUSSELS/ATHENS
Greece has blocked a European Union statement at the United Nations criticizing China's human rights record, a decision EU diplomats said undermined efforts to confront Beijing's crackdown on activists and dissidents.

The EU, which seeks to promote free speech and end capital punishment around the world, was due to make its statement last week at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, but failed to win the necessary agreement from all 28 EU states.

Friday, June 16, 2017

E.U. Reaches Debt Deal for Greece Worth 8.5 Billion Euros


LUXEMBOURG — European Union officials agreed on Thursday to unlock loans of 8.5 billion euros for Greece, to ensure it meets huge payments on its debt next month.

The deal, reached by eurozone finance ministers, will ensure that Greece can pay about €7 billion, or $7.9 billion, next month on its towering pile of loans. If Greece defaulted on its debt, it could set off an economic crisis, reviving fears about the future of the eurozone.

The agreement included formal participation by the International Monetary Fund, said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup of finance minsters.