Greeks Not Bearing Gifts, Latest Economic Data Show

  @natrudy on September 30 2013 10:15 AM
Greece
The Greek flag (right) is waving a bit more shakily as monetary problems mount. Reuters

Greek July retail sales plunged 14.4 percent, doubling a  7.7 percent decrease in June, said the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Monday.

Retail sales by volume, at current prices, which is another key measure, fell by a similar amount, down 14 percent from the year before. The initial 14.4 percent drop is the second-worst since January 2013.

Department stores fared the worst, with a 26 percent contraction. The broad food, automotive fuel and non-food sectors all contracted too, at rates between 12 to 16.8 percent.

The data reflects a tension between improvement in other economic indicators in Greece, like economic sentiment and PMI, and show “recessionary signals" for the Greek economy, according to Greek political economy website Macropolis.

Wages for working Greeks fell 7.5 percent in the second quarter, from the year before, according to government statistics.

The size of Greek wallets, measured in household disposable income, continued to contract, albeit more slowly, by 6.2 percent for the first quarter, compared with 8.3 percent to 13.6 percent for the three quarters before that.

The Greek troika -- the European Union, International Monetary Fund, and European Central bank lenders to Greece -- said on Sunday that had progressed well in their review of the size of a third bailout for Greece, the Guardian reports.

Greek debt as a percentage of GDP stood at 157 percent in 2012, according to Eurostat, or 303.9 million euro ($411 billion). Earlier in July debt among euro zone countries reached a record high for the quarter.

On the labor front, too, prospects look glum. The Greek unemployment rate was 27.1 percent in the second quarter, according to the most updated ELSTAT data, of which a sizable slice represents youth unemployment.

Some hope that increased tourism spending, however, will help pull Greece out of the economic doldrums, at least briefly. The Greek economy is forecast to shrink by 4.2 percent of GDP this year, according to the EU.

The Athens Stock Exchange composite index fell 3.1 percent in Monday morning trading. 

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