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Economy of Greece

Economy of Greece
Greek agriculture, shipping and tourism
Currency 1 euro (ευρώ) = 100 cents (λεπτά)[1]
Calendar year[2]
Trade organisations

€182.054 billion (nominal; 2013)[3]
€216.465 billion (PPP; 2012)[3]

$241.796 billion (nominal; 2013 est.)[4]
$265.632 billion (PPP; 2013 est.)[4]
GDP rank 43rd (nominal, 2013 est.)[5]
50th (PPP, 2013 est.)[6]
GDP growth
Increase1.6% (Q3 2014 est., year-on-year)[7]
GDP per capita

€17,400 (nominal; 2012)[3]
€19,500 (PPP; 2012)[3]

$21,857 (nominal; 2013 est.)[4]
$24,012 (PPP; 2013 est.)[4]
GDP by sector
services: 80.6%; industry: 16%; agriculture: 3.4% (2012 est.)
−1.7% (October 2014)[8]
Population below poverty line
35.7% at risk of poverty or social exclusion (2013)[9][10]
34.4 (2013)[11][12]
Labour force
4,793,367 (August 2014)[13]
Labour force by occupation
services: 70.3%; industry: 16.7%; agriculture: 13% (2012 est.)[14]
Unemployment 25.9% (August 2014)[13]
Average gross salary
€19,807 (2012; annual)[15]
€10,676 (2012; annual, equivalised)[16]
Median net salary
€9,513 (2012; annual, equivalised)[16]
Main industries
shipping (4th; 2011),[17][18] tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products; mining, petroleum[2]
Exports €27.57 billion (Decrease−0.1%; 2013 est.)[20]
Export goods
petroleum oils (not crude), etc 38.88%, aluminium and articles thereof 4.38%; electrical, electronic equipment 3.75%; pharmaceutical products 3.48%; plastics and articles thereof 3.32%; vegetables, fruits, etc 3.18%; iron and steel products 3.03% (2012)[21]
Main export partners
 Turkey 10.8%,
 Italy 7.5%,
 Germany 6.2%,
 Bulgaria 5.5%,
 Cyprus 4.8%,
 USA 3.8%,
 UK 3% (2012)[21]
Imports €46.87 billion (Decrease−5.0%; 2013 est.)[20]
Import goods
crude petroleum oils, etc 37.47%; electrical, electronic equipment 6.48%; pharmaceutical products 5.92%; machinery, etc 4.2%; ships, boats, etc 4.13%; plastics and articles thereof 2.72%; cars, car parts, motorcycles, etc 2.72% (2012)[21]
Main import partners
 Russia 12.6%,
 Germany 9.2%,
 Italy 7.7%,
 Saudi Arabia 5.6%,
 China 4.8%,
 Netherlands 4.6%,
 France 4.2% (2012)[21]
FDI stock
$40.1 billion (57th; 31 December 2013 est.)[2]
-€6 billion (3.1% of GDP; 2012, provis.)[22]
€418.881 billion (2013 Q3, provisional)[23]
-€213.907 billion (2013 Q3, provis.)[24]
Public finances
€317.499 billion (Q2 2014 est.)[25]
€22.257 billion (12.2% of GDP; 2013 est.)[26]
Revenues 47.0% of GDP (2013 est.)[26]
Expenses 59.2% of GDP (2013 est.)[26]
Foreign reserves
$7.524 billion (March 2014)[31]

The economy of Greece is the 43rd or 50th largest in the world at $242 billion or $283 billion by nominal gross domestic product or purchasing power parity respectively, according to World Bank statistics for the year 2013.[5][6] As of 2013, Greece is the thirteenth-largest economy in the 28-member European Union.[3] In terms of per capita income, Greece is ranked 37th or 40th in the world at $22,083 and $25,331 for nominal GDP and purchasing power parity respectively.

A [34] The country is also a significant agricultural producer within the EU. With an economy larger than all the Balkan economies combined, Greece is the largest economy in the Balkans and an important regional investor.[35][36] Greece is the number-two foreign investor of capital in Albania, the number-three foreign investor in Bulgaria, at the top-three foreign investors in Romania and Serbia and the most important trading partner and largest foreign investor of the Republic of Macedonia. Greek banks open a new branch somewhere in the Balkans on an almost weekly basis.[37][38][39] The Greek telecommunications company OTE has become a strong investor in Yugoslavia and other Balkan countries.[37]

Greece is classified as an advanced,[40] Globalization Index for 2010 and 34th on the Ernst & Young’s Globalization Index 2011.[43]

The country's economy was devastated by the Second World War, and the high levels of economic growth that followed throughout the 1950s to 1970s are dubbed the Greek economic miracle. Since the turn of the millennium, Greece saw high levels of GDP growth above the Eurozone average, peaking at 5.9% in 2003 and 5.5% in 2006.[44] The subsequent Great Recession and Greek government-debt crisis, a central focus of the wider Eurozone crisis, plunged the economy into a sharp downturn, with real GDP growth rates of −0.2% in 2008, −3.1% in 2009, −4.9% in 2010, −7.1% in 2011, −7.0% in 2012 and −3.9% in 2013.[45][46][47] In 2011, the country's public debt reached €355.141 billion (170.3% of nominal GDP).[48][49] After negotiating the biggest debt restructuring in history with the private sector, Greece reduced its sovereign debt burden to €280.4 billion (136.5% of GDP) in the first quarter of 2012.[50] Greece returned to growth after six years of economic decline in the second quarter of 2014,[51] and was the eurozone's fastest-growing economy in the third quarter.[52]


  • History 1
    • Strengths and weaknesses 1.1
    • Eurozone entry 1.2
    • 2010–2014 government debt crisis 1.3
  • Primary sector 2
    • Agriculture and fishery 2.1
  • Secondary sector 3
    • Industry 3.1
    • Mining 3.2
  • Tertiary sector (Services) 4
    • Maritime industry 4.1
    • Telecommunications 4.2
    • Tourism 4.3
  • Trade and investment 5
    • Foreign Investment 5.1
    • Trade 5.2
  • Transport 6
  • Energy 7
  • Taxation and tax evasion 8
    • Tax evasion 8.1
  • Wealth and standards of living 9
    • National and regional GDP 9.1
    • Welfare state 9.2
    • Largest companies 9.3
  • Currency 10
  • Charts gallery 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • Further reading 14
  • External links 15


Athens Tower, a symbol of the postwar Greek Economic Miracle from 1950 to 1973.

The evolution of the Greek economy during the 19th century (a period that transformed a large part of the world due to the Industrial revolution) has been little researched. Recent research from 2006[53] examines the gradual development of industry and further development of shipping in a predominantly agricultural economy, calculating an average rate of per capita GDP growth between 1833 and 1911 that was only slightly lower than that of the other Western European nations. Industrial activity, (including heavy industry like shipbuilding) was evident, mainly in Ermoupolis and Piraeus.[54][55] Nonetheless, Greece faced economic hardships and defaulted on its external loans in 1826, 1843, 1860 and 1894.[56][57]

Other studies support the above view on the general trends in the economy, providing comparative measures of standard of living. The per capita income (in purchasing power terms) of Greece was 65% that of France in 1850, 56% in 1890, 62% in 1938,[58][59] 75% in 1980, 90% in 2007, 96.4% in 2008 and 97.9% in 2009.[60][61]

The country's post-World War II development has largely been connected with the so-called Greek economic miracle.[62] During that period, Greece saw growth rates second only to those of Japan, while ranking first in Europe in terms of GDP growth.[62] It is indicative that between 1960 and 1973 the Greek economy grew by an average of 7.7%, in contrast to 4.7% for the EU15 and 4.9 for the OECD.[62] Also during that period, exports grew by an average annual rate of 12.6%.[62]

Strengths and weaknesses

Greece enjoys a high standard of living and very high Human Development Index, ranking 29th in the world in 2012.[63] However, the severe recession of recent years has seen GDP per capita fall from 94% of the EU average in 2009 to 75% in 2012.[64][65] Actual Individual Consumption (AIC) per capita fell from 104% of the EU average to 85% during the same period.[64][65]

Greece's main industries are tourism, shipping, industrial products, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products, mining and petroleum. Greece's GDP growth has also, as an average, since the early 1990s been higher than the EU average. However, the Greek economy also faces significant problems, including rapidly rising unemployment levels, an inefficient public sector bureaucracy, tax evasion, corruption and low global competitiveness.[66][67]

Greece is ranked 69th in the world on the Corruption Perceptions Index, alongside Bulgaria, Italy and Romania.[68] Greece also has the EU's lowest Index of Economic Freedom and Global Competitiveness Index, ranking 119th and 81st in the world respectively.[69][70]

GDP growth rates of the Greek economy between 1961 and 2010.

After fourteen consecutive years of economic growth, Greece went into recession in 2008.[71] By the end of 2009, the Greek economy faced the highest budget deficit and government debt-to-GDP ratios in the EU. After several upward revisions, the 2009 budget deficit is now estimated at 15.7% of GDP.[48][49] This, combined with rapidly rising debt levels—127.9% of GDP in 2009—led to a precipitous spike in borrowing costs, effectively shutting Greece out of the global financial markets and resulting in a severe economic crisis.[72]

Greece was accused of trying to cover up the extent of its massive budget deficit in the wake of the global financial crisis.[73] The allegation was prompted by the massive revision of the 2009 budget deficit forecast by the new PASOK government elected in October 2009, from "6–8%" (estimated by the previous New Democracy government) to 12.7% (later revised to 15.7%). However, the accuracy of the revised figures has also been questioned, and in February 2012 the Hellenic Parliament voted in favor of an official investigation following accusations by a former member of the Hellenic Statistical Authority that the deficit had been artificially inflated in order to justify harsher austerity measures.[74][75]

Average GDP growth by era[44]
1961–1970 8.44%
1971–1980 4.70%
1981–1990 0.70%
1991–2000 2.36%
2001–2007 4.11%
2008–2011 −3.825%

The Greek labor force, which totals approximately 5 million, at 2,032 average hours of work per worker annually in 2011, is ranked fourth among OECD countries, after Mexico, South Korea and Chile.[76] The Groningen Growth & Development Centre has published a poll revealing that between 1995 and 2005, Greece was the country whose workers worked the most hours/year among European nations; Greeks worked an average of 1,900 hours per year, followed by Spaniards (average of 1,800 hours/year).[77]

As a result of the on-going economic crisis, industrial production in the country went down by 8% between March 2010 and March 2011,[78] One of the sectors hardest hit has been the garment industry, a traditional mainstay of the economy. while the volume of building activity saw a reduction of 73.1% between January 2010 and January 2011.[79] Additionally, the turnover in retail sales saw a decline of 9% between February 2010 and February 2011.[80]

Between 2008 and 2013 unemployment skyrocketed, from a generational low of 7.2% in the second and third quarters of 2008 to a high of 27.9% in June 2013, leaving over a million jobless.[81][82][83] Youth unemployment peaked at 64.9% in May 2013.[84]

Eurozone entry

Greece entered the Eurozone in 2001.

Greece was accepted into the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union by the European Council on 19 June 2000, based on a number of criteria (inflation rate, budget deficit, public debt, long-term interest rates, exchange rate) using 1999 as the reference year. After an audit commissioned by the incoming New Democracy government in 2004, Eurostat revealed that the statistics for the budget deficit had been under-reported.[85]

Most of the differences in the revised budget deficit numbers were due to a temporary change of accounting practices by the new government, i.e., recording expenses when military material was ordered rather than received.[86] However, it was the retroactive application of ESA95 methodology (applied since 2000) by Eurostat, that finally raised the reference year (1999) budget deficit to 3.38% of GDP, thus exceeding the 3% limit. This led to claims that Greece (similar claims have been made about other European countries like Italy)[87] had not actually met all five accession criteria, and the common perception that Greece entered the Eurozone through "falsified" deficit numbers.

In the 2005 OECD report for Greece,[88] it was clearly stated that "the impact of new accounting rules on the fiscal figures for the years 1997 to 1999 ranged from 0.7 to 1 percentage point of GDP; this retroactive change of methodology was responsible for the revised deficit exceeding 3% in 1999, the year of [Greece's] EMU membership qualification". The above led the Greek minister of finance to clarify that the 1999 budget deficit was below the prescribed 3% limit when calculated with the ESA79 methodology in force at the time of Greece's application, and thus the criteria had been met.[89]

The original accounting practice for military expenses was later restored in line with Eurostat recommendations, theoretically lowering even the ESA95-calculated 1999 Greek budget deficit to below 3% (an official Eurostat calculation is still pending for 1999).

An error very frequently made in press reports is the confusion of the discussion regarding Greece’s Eurozone entry with the controversy regarding usage of derivatives’ deals with U.S. Banks by Greece and other Eurozone countries to artificially reduce their reported budget deficits. A currency swap arranged with Goldman Sachs allowed Greece to "hide" 2.8 billion Euros of debt, however, this affected deficit values after 2001 (when Greece had already been admitted into the Eurozone) and is not related to Greece’s Eurozone entry.[90]

A study of the period 1999-2009 by forensic accountants has found that data submitted to Eurostat by Greece, among other countries, had a statistical distribution indicative of manipulation; "Greece with a mean value of 17.74, shows the largest deviation from Benford's law among the members of the eurozone, followed by Belgium with a value of 17.21 and Austria with a value of 15.25".[91][92]

2010–2014 government debt crisis

Greek government debt levels between 1999 and 2010.

By the end of 2009, as a result of a combination of international and local factors the Greek economy faced its most-severe crisis since the restoration of democracy in 1974 as the Greek government revised its deficit from a prediction of 3.7% in early 2009 and 6% in September 2009, to 12.7% of gross domestic product (GDP).[93][94]

In early 2010, it was revealed that through the assistance of

  • Nick Malkoutzis Greece – A Year in Crisis – Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, June 2011
  • New study on the "Economic, Social and Territorial Situation of Greece" – European Parliament, Committee on Regional Development's delegation to Greece, 13 – 15 July 2011
  • The Greek Economy – a bi-monthly publication by the Hellenic Statistical Authority on the state of the economy
  • The Greek Exports – Database of Greek Exporters
  • Greek Banks Digest – (in English)
  • World Bank Summary Trade Statistics Greece
  • Tariffs applied by Greece as provided by ITC's Market Access Map, an online database of customs tariffs and market requirements.

External links

  • Pasiouras, Fotios. Greek Banking: From the Pre-Euro Reforms to the Financial Crisis and Beyond (Palgrave Macmillan; 2012) 217 pages; covers the mid-1990s to 2011.
  • Manolopoulos, J. Greece's 'Odious' Debt: The Looting of the Hellenic Republic by the Euro, the Political Elite and the Investment Community.. London, May 2011: Anthem Press. 

Further reading

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  7. ^ a b "GDP up by 0.2% in the euro area and up by 0.3% in the EU28" (PDF). Luxembourg: Eurostat. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "CONSUMER PRICE INDEX: October 2014" (PDF). Piraeus: Hellenic Statistical Authority. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "STATISTICS ON INCOME AND LIVING CONDITIONS 2013 (Income reference period 2012): Risk of poverty" (PDF). Piraeus: Hellenic Statistical Authority. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "People at risk of poverty or social exclusion by age and sex". Luxembourg: Eurostat. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "STATISTICS ON INCOME AND LIVING CONDITIONS 2013 (Income reference period 2012): Income inequality" (PDF). Piraeus: Hellenic Statistical Authority. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Gini coefficient of equivalised disposable income (source: SILC)". Luxembourg: Eurostat. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "LABOUR FORCE SURVEY: August 2014" (PDF). Piraeus: Hellenic Statistical Authority. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Martin Teichgraber (7 June 2013). "European Union Labour force survey - annual results 2012". Luxembourg: Eurostat. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "Average annual wages, OECD Stats".  
  16. ^ a b "Mean and median income by age and sex (ilc_di03)".  
  17. ^ a b c d e , i.e. country ranking in value of exports (services; data code 206; yearly times series)"Sea Transport"ITC Trade Map: List of exporters for .  
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    • OECD (15 March 2010). OECD Environmental Performance Reviews OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Greece 2009. OECD Publishing. p. 256.  
    • Christos C. Frangos (2009). Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference: Quantitative and Qualitative Methodologies in the Economic and Administrative Sciences. Christos Frangos. p. 404.  
    • Peter Haggett (2002). Encyclopedia of World Geography: Italy. Marshall Cavendish. p. 1470.  
    •; Int'l Business Publications, USA (1 January 2012). Business in Greece for Everyone: Practical Information and Contacts for Success. Int'l Business Publications. p. 42.  
    • Jill Dubois; Xenia Skoura; Olga Gratsaniti (2003). Greece. Marshall Cavendish. p. 42.  
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    • Tullio Treves; Pineshi (1997). The Law of the Sea: The European Union and Its Member States. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 239–240.  
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See also

Charts on the Economy of Greece
Greece's social expenditures as a percentage of GDP.
Greek social expenditures as a percentage of GDP (1998–2009) 
Distribution of income in Greece over the years
Distribution of income in Greece over the years 
Distribution of total income in Greece over the years.
Distribution of total income in Greece over the years 
Number of employed, unemployed, inactive and unemployment rate in Greece over the years.
Employment and unemployment in Greece since 2006 
Combined charts of Greece's GDP and Debt (various) from 1970 to 2010; also of Budget Deficit from 2000 to 2010.
Greek GDP, Debt (various) and Budget Deficit over the years 
Combined charts of Greece's GDP, Debt and Budget Deficit (International 1990 Geary-Khamis dollars)
Greek GDP, Debt and Deficit (Int. 1990 Geary-Khamis dollars
Deposits (including repos) in Greek banks by residents of Greece.
Greek bank deposits (including repos) since 1998 
Domestic bank deposits of Greek households in Greece by type of bank account.
Domestic bank deposits of Greek households by type of account 
Domestic lending-credit by domestic banks in Greece since 1980;by sectors and categories (in some cases)
Domestic lending by domestic banks in Greece since 1980 
House Price Index (including flats), Greece
House Price Index, Greece (including flats) 

Charts gallery

Prior to the adoption of the Euro, the majority of Greek people had a positive view of the new currency (64%).[200] In February and June 2005 however this number fell considerably, to only 26% and 20% respectively.[200] Since 2010 the number has risen again, and a survey in September 2011 showed that 63% of Greeks had a positive view of the Euro.[200]

Between 1832 and 2002 the currency of Greece was the Drachma. After having signed the Maastricht Treaty, Greece applied to join the Eurozone. The two main criteria to join the Euro currency were, that the EU country upon application time, was not allowed to exceed a public deficit of -3.0% of GDP and the debt burden should show a declining trend if it was above 60% of GDP. Greece managed to comply with the strict criteria, after having submitted its 1999 annual public account. On 1 January 2001, Greece officially joined the Eurozone, with the adoption of the Euro at the fixed exchange rate ₯340.75 to €1. In 2001 the Euro however only existed electronically, so the physical exchange from Drachma to Euro only happened on 1 January 2002. This was followed by a ten-year period for eligible exchange of drachma to Euro, which ended on 1 March 2012.[199]


Forbes Global 2000[198]
Rank Company Revenues
(US$ billion)
(US$ billion)
(US$ billion)
Market value
(US$ billion)
1 National Bank of Greece 10.4 -16 137 1
2 Bank of Greece 5.4 0.3 210.7 0.4
3 Coca Cola HBC 9.3 0.3 9.5 10.2
4 Hellenic Telecom 6.2 0.6 10.7 3.7
5 Alpha Bank 4.6 -1.4 76.9 0.5
6 Public Power Corporation 7.7 0 21.2 2
7 Piraeus Bank 3.9 -8.6 62.5 0.3
8 Hellenic Petroleum 13.8 0.1 9.7 3.3
9 OPAP 5.2 0.7 2.3 2.8
10 Motor Oil 12.8 0.1 3.4 1.2

According to the Forbes Global 2000 index, Greece's largest publicly traded companies as of May 2013 are:

Largest companies

Greece is a welfare state which provides a number of social services such as quasi-universal health care and pensions. In the 2012 budget, expenses for the welfare state (excluding education) stand at an estimated €22.487 billion[187] (€6.577 billion for pensions[187] and €15.910 billion for social security and health care expenses),[187] or 31.9% of the all state expenses.[187]

Welfare state

Eurostat data for 2010[197]
Rank Region GDP
(€ mn)
(% of total)
annual growth
per capita
per capita
(% EU average)
0 a 0 0 -100 0 0
1 Attica 106,635 48 -3.51 25,900 106
2 Northern Greece 55,163 24.83 -4.73 15,400 63
3 Central Greece 38,767 17.45 -3.03 15,600 64
4 Central Macedonia 30,087 13.54 -5.19 15,400 63
5 Aegean Islands and Crete 21,586 9.72 -4.84 19,200 79
6 Crete 10,955 4.93 -3.79 17,900 73
7 Thessaly 10,742 4.84 -6.55 14,600 60
8 West Greece 10,326 4.65 -2.90 13,800 57
9 Sterea Hellas 10,059 4.53 -1.25 18,100 74
10 Peloponnese 9,436 4.25 -3.97 16,000 65
11 East Macedonia and Thrace 9,054 4.08 -1.69 14,900 61
12 South Aegean 7,476 3.37 -5.40 24,100 99
13 West Macedonia 5,281 2.38 -3.30 18,000 74
14 Epirus 4,917 2.21 -2.36 13,700 56
15 Ionian Islands 4,029 1.81 -6.22 17,200 70
16 North Aegean 3,155 1.42 -7.04 15,800 65
Greece 222,152 100 -3.86 19,600 80
EU 12,279,589 5527.56 4.49% 24,500 100
100 z 1000000000000000 1000 100 1000000000 1000
Eurostat data for 2009[194][195][196]
Rank Region Total GDP
(€ bn)
% % growth Per capita
1 Attica €110.546 47.7 0.8 €29,100
2 Central Macedonia €32.285 13.9 −1.3 €17,900
3 Thessaly €11.608 5.0 −1.3 €17,000
4 Crete €11.243 4.9 −1.6 €19,900
5 West Greece €10.659 4.6 −3.6 €15,500
6 Central Greece €10.537 4.5 −1.7 €20,500
7 Peloponnese €9.809 4.2 −0.7 €17,900
8 East Macedonia and Thrace €9.265 4.0 0.9 €16,500
9 South Aegean €7.646 3.3 −2.8 €26,800
10 Epirus €5.079 2.2 −0.2 €15,300
11 West Macedonia €5.506 2.4 −1.9 €20,300
12 Ionian Islands €4.130 1.8 −7.4 €19,100
13 North Aegean €3.330 1.4 −3.3 €17,900
14 Mount Athos N/A N/A N/A N/A
Greece €231.643 100.00 −0.5 €20,500
EU €11,745.353 N/A −5.8 €23,500

In terms of GDP per capita, Attica ranks first (€29,100),[195] followed by the South Aegean (€26,800)[195] and Central Greece (€20,500).[195] Epirus (€15,300)[195] and West Greece (€15,500)[195] have the lowest values. Greece's average GDP per capita in 2010 was €21,900,[196] below the EU average of €24,400.[196]

According to Eurostat, Greece's most economically important regions in 2009 were Attica (which contributed €110.546 billion to the economy)[194] followed by Central Macedonia (€32.285 billion),[194] Thessaly (€11.608 billion),[194] Crete (€11.243 billion)[194] and West Greece (€10.659 billion).[194] The least important were the North Aegean (€3.330 billion)[194] and the Ionian Islands (€4.130 billion).[194]

The country's two largest metropolitan areas account for 57% of the national economy.
GDP per capita of the regions of Greece in 2008.
Revenues of Greece between 1999 and 2010 as a percentage of GDP, compared to the EU average.

National and regional GDP

Wealth and standards of living

Following similar actions by the United Kingdom and Germany, the Greek government is in talks with Switzerland in order to tax bank accounts in Switzerland owned by Greek citizens.[193] The Ministry of Finance has revealed that Greek Swiss bank account holders will either have to pay a tax or reveal information such as the identity of the bank account holder to the Greek internal revenue services.[193] The Greek and Swiss governments are to reach a deal on the matter by the end of 2011.[193]

The Tax Justice Network has said that there are over €20 billion in Swiss bank accounts held by Greeks.[190] The former Finance Minister of Greece, Evangelos Venizelos, was quoted as saying "Around 15,000 individuals and companies owe the taxman 37 billion euros".[191] Additionally, the TJN puts the number of Greek-owned off-shore companies to over 10,000.[192]

Greece suffers from very high levels of tax evasion. In the last quarter of 2005, tax evasion reached 49%,[188] while in January 2006 it fell to 41.6%.[188] A study by researchers from the University of Chicago concluded that tax evasion in 2009 by self-employed professionals alone in Greece (accountants, dentists, lawyers, doctors, personal tutors and independent financial advisers) was €28 billion or 31% of the budget deficit that year.[189]

Tax evasion

The Ministry of Finance expects tax revenues for 2012 to be €52.7 billion (€23.6 billion in direct taxes and €29.1 billion in indirect taxes),[187] an increase of 5.8% from 2011.[187] In 2012, the government is expected to have considerably higher tax revenues than in 2011 on a number of sectors, primarily housing (an increase of 217.5% from 2011).[187]

The lowest VAT possible is 6.5% (previously 4.5%)[184] for newspapers, periodicals and cultural event tickets, while a tax rate of 13% (from 9%)[184] applies to certain service sector professions. Additionally, both employers and employees have to pay social contribution taxes, which apply at a rate of 16%[184] for white collar jobs and 19.5%[184] for blue collar jobs, and are used for social insurance.

Greece's corporate tax has dropped from 40% in 2000[184] to 20% in 2010.[184] For 2011 only, corporate tax will be at 24%.[184] Value added tax (VAT) has gone up in 2010 compared to 2009: 23% as opposed to 19%.[184]

Also under the new austerity measures and among other changes, the personal income tax-free ceiling has been reduced to €5,000 per annum[185] while further future changes, for example abolition of this ceiling, are already being planned.[186]

The Greek tax system is a tiered one, as Greece employs the system of progressive taxation. Greek law recognizes six categories of taxable income:[184] immovable property, movable property (investment), income from agriculture, business, employment, and income from professional activities. Greece's personal income tax rate up until recently ranged from 0% for annual incomes below €12,000[184] and 45% for annual incomes over €100,000.[184] Under the new 2010 tax reform, tax exemptions have been abolished.[184]

Revenues of Greece between 1999 and 2010 as a percentage of GDP, compared to the EU average.

Taxation and tax evasion

A number of oil and gas pipelines are currently under construction or under planning in the country. Such projects include the Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI) and South Stream gas pipelines.[175]

In addition to the above, Greece is also to start oil and gas exploration in other locations in the Ionian Sea as well as the Libyan Sea, within the Greek exclusive economic zone, south of Crete.[181][182] The Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change announced that there was interest from various countries (including Norway and the United States) in exploration,[182] and the first results regarding the amount of oil and gas in these locations are expected in the summer of 2012.[182] In November 2012, a report published by Deutsche Bank estimated the value of natural gas reserves south of Crete at €427 billion.[183]

In 2011 the Greek government approved the start of oil exploration and drilling in three locations within Greece,[180] with an estimated output of 250 to 300 million barrels over the next 15 to 20 years.[180] The estimated output in Euros of the three deposits is €25 billion over a 15-year period,[180] of which €13–€14 billion will enter state coffers.[180] Greece's dispute with Turkey over the Aegean poses substantial obstacles to oil exploration in the Aegean Sea.

Greece has 10 million barrels of proven oil reserves as of 1 January 2012.[2] Hellenic Petroleum is the country's largest oil company, followed by Motor Oil Hellas. Greece's oil production stands at 1,751 barrels per day (bbl/d), ranked 95th worldwide,[2] while it exports 19,960 bbl/d, ranked 53rd,[2] and imports 355,600 bbl/d, ranked 25th.[2]

In 2008 renewable energy accounted for 8% of the country's total energy consumption,[176] a rise from the 7.2% it accounted for in 2006,[176] but still below the EU average of 10% in 2008.[176] 10% of the country's renewable energy comes from solar power,[129] while most comes from biomass and waste recycling.[129] In line with the European Commission's Directive on Renewable Energy, Greece aims to get 18% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.[177] In 2013 and for several months, Greece produced more than 20% of its electricity from renewable energy sources and hydroelectric power plants.[178] Greece currently does not have any nuclear power plants in operation, however in 2009 the Academy of Athens suggested that research in the possibility of Greek nuclear power plants begin.[179]

Energy production in Greece is dominated by the Public Power Corporation (known mostly by its acronym ΔΕΗ, or in English DEI). In 2009 DEI supplied for 85.6% of all energy demand in Greece,[174] while the number fell to 77.3% in 2010.[174] Almost half (48%) of DEI's power output is generated using lignite, a drop from the 51.6% in 2009.[174] Another 12% comes from Hydroelectric power plants[175] and another 20% from natural gas.[175] Between 2009 and 2010, independent companies' energy production increased by 56%,[174] from 2,709 Gigawatt hour in 2009 to 4,232 GWh in 2010.[174]

A distillation facility owned by Hellenic Petroleum.
The oil rig in Kavala.
View of a wind farm, Panachaiko mountain.


In 2010 Piraeus handled 513,319 TEUs,[171] followed by Thessaloniki, which handled 273,282 TEUs.[172] In the same year, 83.9 million people passed through Greece's ports,[173] 12.7 million through the port of Paloukia in Salamis,[173] another 12.7 through the port of Perama,[173] 9.5 million through Piraeus[173] and 2.7 million through Igoumenitsa.[173] In 2013, Piraeus handled a record 3.16 million TEUs, the third-largest figure in the Mediterranean, of which 2.52 million were transported through Pier II, owned by COSCO and 644,000 were transported through Pier I, owned by the Greek state.

According to Eurostat, Greece's largest port by tons of goods transported in 2010 is the port of Aghioi Theodoroi, with 17.38 million tons.[169] The Port of Thessaloniki comes second with 15.8 million tons,[169] followed by the Port of Piraeus, with 13.2 million tons,[169] and the port of Eleusis, with 12.37 million tons.[169] The total number of goods transported through Greece in 2010 amounted to 124.38 million tons,[169] a considerable drop from the 164.3 million tons transported through the country in 2007.[169] Since then, Piraeus has grown to become the Mediterranean's third-largest port thanks to heavy investment by Chinese logistics giant COSCO. In 2013, Piraeus was declared the fastest-growing port in the world.[170]

The ministry responsible for tourism is the of which 948 km are [2] The Greek road network is made up of 116,711 km of roads,

Between 1975 and 2009 Olympic Airlines was the country's flag carrier, but financial problems led to its privatization in 2009. Both Olympic Air and Aegean have won awards for their services; in 2009 and 2011 Aegean Airlines was awarded the "Best regional airline in Europe" award by Skytrax,[166] and also has two gold and one silver awards by the ERA,[166] while Olympic Air holds one silver ERA award for "Airline of the Year"[167] as well as a "Condé Nast Traveller 2011 Readers Choice Awards: Top Domestic Airline" award.[168]

As of 2012, Greece has a total of 82 airports,[2] of which 67 are paved and six have runways longer than 3,047 meters.[2] Of these airports, two are classified as "international" by the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority,[165] but 15 offer international services.[165] Additionally Greece has 9 heliports.[2] Greece does not have a flag carrier, but the country's airline industry is dominated by Olympic Air, the largest airline by number of destinations served, and Aegean Airlines, the largest airline by number of passengers carried.


Imports and exports in 2012[21]
Imports Exports
Rank Origin Value
(€ mil)
(% of total)
Rank Destination Value
(€ mil)
(% of total)
0 a 0 -1 0 a 0 -1
1  Russia 5,967.20132 12.6 1  Turkey 2,940.25203 10.8
2  Germany 4,381.92656 9.2 2  Italy 2,033.77413 7.5
3  Italy 3,668.88622 7.7 3  Germany 1,687.03947 6.2
4  Saudi Arabia 2,674.00587 5.6 4  Bulgaria 1,493.75355 5.5
5  People's Republic of China 2,278.03883 4.8 5  Cyprus 1,319.28598 4.8
6  Netherlands 2,198.57126 4.6 6  United States 1,024.73686 3.8
7  France 1,978.48460 4.2 7  United Kingdom 822.74077 3
OECD 23,849.94650 50.2 OECD 13,276.48107 48.8
G7 11,933.75417 25.1 G7 6,380.86705 23.4
BRICS 8,682.10265 18.3 BRICS 1,014.17146 3.7
BRIC 8,636.02946 18.2 BRIC 977.76016 3.6
OPEC 8,090.76972 17 OPEC 2,158.60420 7.9
NAFTA 751.80608 1.6 NAFTA 1,215.70257 4.5
#a  European Union 27 21,164.89314 44.5 #a  European Union 27 11,512.31990 42.3
#b  European Union 15 17,794.19344 37.4 #b  European Union 15 7,234.83595 26.6
#3 Africa 2,787.39502 5.9 #3 Africa 1,999.46534 7.3
#4 America 1,451.15136 3.1 #4 America 1,384.04068 5.1
#2 Asia 14,378.02705 30.2 #2 Asia 6,933.51200 25.5
#1 Europe 28,708.38148 60.4 #1 Europe 14,797.20641 54.4
#5 Oceania 71.70603 0.2 #5 Oceania 169.24085 0.6
# World 47,537.63847 100 # World 27,211.06362 100
24 z 1000000000000000000 101 24 z 1000000000000000000 101
the International Organisations or Country Groups list and ranking presented above (i.e. #greek_letters and/or #latin_letters),
is not indicative of the whole picture of Greece's trade;
this is instead only an incomplete selection of some major and well known such Organisations and Groups;
rounding errors possibly present

Greece is also the largest trade partner of Cyprus (exports 23.0%, imports 21.6%)[163] and the largest import partner of the Republic of Macedonia (19.0%).[164]

Imports and exports in 2011; values in millions[162]
Rank Imports Rank Exports
 European Union €22,688.5  European Union €11,377.7
Total €42,045.4 Total €22,451.1
Imports and exports in 2008; values in millions[161]
Rank Imports Rank Exports
Origin Value Destination Value
1  Germany €7,238.2 1  Denmark €2,001.9
2  Italy €6,918.5 2  Italy €1,821.3
3  Russia €4,454.0 3  France €1,237.0
4  China €3,347.1 4  Netherlands €1,103.0
5  France €3,098.0 5  Russia €885.4
 European Union €33,330.5  European Union €11,102.0
Total €60,669.9 Total €17,334.1

Since the 2009 crisis, Greece's negative balance of trade has decreased significantly from €43.3 billion in 2008 to €19.3 billion in 2013.[20][161] Imports saw an overall decrease of around 5% in 2013, while exports were stable.[20]

Graphical depiction of Greece's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.


Greece invested €1.38 billion in Bulgaria between 2005 and 2007[158] and many important companies (including Bulgarian Postbank, United Bulgarian Bank Coca-Cola Bulgaria) are owned by Greek financial groups.[158] In Serbia, 250 Greek companies are active with a total investment of over €2 billion.[159] Romanian statistics from 2005 show that Greek investment in the country exceeded €3 billion.[160]

Since the fall of communism, Greece has invested heavily in neighbouring Balkan countries. Between 1997 and 2009, 12.11% of foreign direct investment capital in the Republic of Macedonia was Greek, ranking fourth. In 2009 alone, Greeks invested €380 million in the country,[157] with companies such as Hellenic Petroleum having made important strategic investments.[157]

Foreign Investment

Trade and investment

In recent years a number of well-known tourism-related organizations have placed Greek destinations in the top of their lists. In 2009 Lonely Planet ranked Thessaloniki, the country's second-largest city, the world's fifth best "Ultimate Party Town", alongside cities such as Montreal and Dubai,[155] while in 2011 the island of Santorini was voted as the best island in the world by Travel + Leisure.[156] The neighbouring island of Mykonos was ranked as the 5th best island Europe.[156] Thessaloniki will be European Youth Capital in 2014.

[151] (OSE). Most of the country's network is standard gauge (1,565 km),[2] while the country also has 983 km of narrow gauge.[2] A total of 764 km of rail are electrified.[2] Greece has rail connections with Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. A total of three suburban railway systems (Proastiakos) are in operation (in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras), while one metro system is operational in Athens with another under construction.

Among the member states of the European Union, Greece was the most popular destination for residents of Cyprus and Sweden in 2011.[154]

Greece attracts more than 16 million tourists each year, thus contributing between 18.2% to the nation's GDP in 2008 according to an OECD report.[151] The same survey showed that the average tourist expenditure while in Greece was $1,073, ranking Greece 10th in the world.[151] The number of jobs directly or indirectly related to the tourism sector were 840,000 in 2008 and represented 19% of the country's total labor force.[151] In 2009, Greece welcomed over 19.3 million tourists,[152] a major increase from the 17.7 million tourists the country welcomed in 2008.[153]

Tourism in the modern sense has only started to flourish in Greece in the years post-1950,[149][150] although tourism in ancient times is also documented in relation to religious or sports festivals such as the Olympic Games.[150] Since the 1950s, the tourism sector saw an unprecedented boost as arrivals went from 33,000 in 1950 to 11.4 million in 1994.[149]

The Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, popular tourist destination.
The island of Santorini.


Greece has tended to lag behind its European Union partners in terms of Internet use, with the gap closing rapidly in recent years. The percentage of households with access to the Internet more than doubled between 2006 and 2013, from 23% to 56% respectively (compared with an EU average of 49% and 79%).[147][148] At the same time, there has been a massive increase in the proportion of households with a broadband connection, from 4% in 2006 to 55% in 2013 (compared with an EU average of 30% and 76%).[147][148] However, Greece also has the EU's third highest percentage of people who have never used the Internet: 36% in 2013, down from 65% in 2006 (compared with an EU average of 21% and 42%).[147][148]

Other mobile telecommunications companies active in Greece are Wind Hellas and Vodafone Greece. The total number of active cellular phone accounts in the country in 2009 based on statistics from the country's mobile phone providers was over 20 million,[146] a penetration of 180%.[146] Additionally, there are 5.745 million active landlines in the country.[2]

Between 1949 and the 1980s, Southeast Europe.[145] Since 2011, the company's major shareholder is Deutsche Telekom with a 40% stake, while the Greek state continues to own 10% of the company's shares.[145] OTE owns several subsidiaries across the Balkans, including Cosmote, Greece's top mobile telecommunications provider, Cosmote Romania and Albanian Mobile Communications.[145]

OTE headquarters in Athens.


Greece, shipping services
Year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006-2008 2009 2010 2011
Global ranking[17] 5th 5th 5th 4th 3rd 5th -b 5th 6th 4th
Value (US$ million)[17] 7,558.995 7,560.559 7,527.175 10,114.736 15,402.209 16,127.623 -b 17,033.714 18,559.292 17,704.132
Value (€ million)[17] 8,172.559 8,432.670 7,957.654 8,934.660 12,382.636 12,949.869 -b 12,213.786 13,976.558 12,710.859
Value (%GDP) 5.93 5.76 5.08 5.18 6.68 6.71 n/a 5.29 6.29 6.10
Global ranking[143] 14th 13th 14th -b 14th 16th -b 12th 13th 9th
Value (US$ million)[143] 3,314.718 3,873.791 3,757.000 -b 5,570.145 5,787.234 -b 6,653.395 7,846.950 7,076.605
Value (€ million)[143] 3,583.774 4,320.633 3,971.863 -b 4,478.129 4,646.929 -b 4,770.724 5,909.350 5,080.720
Value (%GDP) 2.60 2.95 2.54 n/a 2.42 2.41 n/a 2.06 2.66 2.44
"Trade balance":
Global ranking[144] 1st 2nd 1st 1ste 1st 1st -b 2nd 1st 2nd
Value (US$ million)[144] 4,244.277 3,686.768 3,770.175 10,114.736e 9,832.064 10,340.389 -b 10,340.389 10,380.319 10,712.342
Value (€ million)[144] 4,588.785 4,112.037 3,985.791 8,934.660e 7,904.508 8,302.940 -b 7,443.063 8,067.208 7,630.140
Value (%GDP) 3.33 2.81 2.54 5.18e 4.27 4.30 n/a 3.22 3.63 3.66
GDP (€ million)[3] 137,930.1 146,427.6 156,614.3 172,431.8 185,265.7 193,049.7b n/a 231,081.2p 222,151.5p 208,531.7p
b source reports break in time series; p source characterises data as provisional; e reported data may be erroneous due to relevant break in "Imports" time series
[144][143] Similarly counting shipping services provided to Greece by other countries as quasi-imports and the difference between "exports" and "imports" as a "trade balance", Greece in 2011 ranked in the latter second behind Germany, having "imported" shipping services worth US$7,076,605 and having ran a "trade surplus" of US$10,712,342.[17] ranked higher during that year.South Korea, Germany and DenmarkCounting shipping as quasi-exports and in terms of monetary value, Greece ranked 4th globally in 2011 having "exported" shipping services worth $17,704,132; only

The latest available data from the Union of Greek Shipowners show that "the Greek-owned ocean-going fleet consists of 3,428 ships, totaling 245 million deadweight tonnes in capacity. This equals 15.6 percent of the carrying capacity of the entire global fleet, including 23.6 percent of the world tanker fleet and 17.2 percent of dry bulk".[142]

In terms of ship categories, Greek companies have 22.6% of the world's tankers[139] and 16.1% of the world's bulk carriers (in dwt).[139] An additional equivalent of 27.45% of the world's tanker dwt is on order,[139] with another 12.7% of bulk carriers also on order.[139] Shipping accounts for an estimated 6% of Greek GDP,[140] employs about 160,000 people (4% of the workforce),[141] and represents 1/3 of the country's trade deficit.[141] Earnings from shipping amounted to €14.1 billion in 2011,[139] while between 2000 and 2010 Greek shipping contributed a total of €140 billion[140] (half of the country's public debt in 2009 and 3.5 times the receipts from the European Union in the period 2000-2013).[140] The 2011 ECSA report showed that there are approximately 750 Greek shipping companies in operation.[140]

Greece is ranked fourth in the world by number of ships (3,695), behind China (5,313), Japan (3,991), and Germany (3,833).[32] A European Community Shipowners' Associations report for 2011–2012 reveals that the Greek flag is the seventh-most-used internationally for shipping, while it ranks second in the EU.[139]

Greece has the largest merchant navy in the world, accounting for more than 15% of the world's total deadweight tonnage (dwt) according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.[32] The Greek merchant navy's total dwt of nearly 245 million is comparable only to Japan's, which is ranked second with almost 224 million.[32] Additionally, Greece represents 39.52% of all of the European Union's dwt.[139] However, today's fleet roster is smaller than an all-time high of 5,000 ships in the late 1970s.[135]

During the 1960s, the size of the Greek fleet nearly doubled, primarily through the investment undertaken by the shipping magnates Onassis and Niarchos.[138] The basis of the modern Greek maritime industry was formed after World War II when Greek shipping businessmen were able to amass surplus ships sold to them by the United States Government through the Ship Sales Act of the 1940s.[138]

Shipping has traditionally been a key sector in the Greek economy since ancient times.[135] In 1813, the Greek merchant navy was made up of 615 ships.[136] Its total tonnage was 153,580 tons and was manned with 37,526 crewmembers and 5,878 cannons.[136] In 1914 the figures stood at 449,430 tons and 1,322 ships (of which 287 were steam boats).[137]

16.1% of the world's total merchant fleet is owned by Greek companies, making it the largest in the world. Greece is ranked in the top 5 for all kinds of ships, including first for tankers and bulk carriers.
Neorion shipyard, located in Ermoupolis.

Maritime industry

Tertiary sector (Services)


Industrial production (manufacturing) in Greece (2010; provisional data)[134]
Rank Production Rank Production
Industry Value (€) Industry Value (€)
1 Portland cement 699,174,850 6 Ready-mixed concrete 438,489,443
2 Pharmaceuticals (medicaments of mixed or unmixed products (other), p.r.s., n.e.c) 670,923,632 7 Beer made from malt (excluding non-alcoholic beer, beer containing <= 0.5% by volume of alcohol, alcohol duty) 405,990,419
3 Waters, with added sugar, other sweetening matter or flavoured, i.e. soft drinks (including mineral and aerated) 561,611,081 8 Milk and cream of a fat content by weight of > 1% but <= 6%, not concentrated nor containing added sugar or other sweetening matter, in immediate packings of a net content <= 2l 373,780,989
4 Hot rolled concrete reinforcing bars 540,919,270 9 Cigarettes containing tobacco or mixtures of tobacco and tobacco substitutes (excluding tobacco duty) 350,420,600
5 Grated, powdered, blue-veined and other non-processed cheese (excluding fresh cheese, whey cheese and curd) 511,528,250 10 Cheese fondues and other food preparations, n.e.c. 300,883,207
Total production value: €17,489,538,838
p.r.s.: packed for retail sale; n.e.c.: non elsewhere classifiable
Industrial production (manufacturing) in Greece (2009)[133]
Rank Production Rank Production
Industry Value Industry Value
1 Portland cement €897,378,450 6 Cigarettes €480,399,323
2 Pharmaceuticals €621,788,464 7 Beer €432,559,943
3 Ready-mix concrete €523,821,763 8 Dairy €418,527,007
4 Beverages (non-alcoholic) €519,888,468 9 Aluminium slabs €391,393,930
5 Rebars €499,789,102 10 Coca-Cola products €388,752,443
Total production value: €20,310,940,279

In 2009, Greece's labor productivity was 98% that of the EU average,[132] but its productivity-per-hour-worked was 74% that the Eurozone average.[132] The largest industrial employer in the country (in 2007) was the manufacturing industry (407,000 people),[132] followed by the construction industry (305,000)[132] and mining (14,000).[132]

Between 1999 and 2008, the volume of retail trade in Greece increased by an average of 4.4% per year (a total increase of 44%),[132] while it decreased by 11.3% in 2009.[132] The only sector that did not see negative growth in 2009 was administration and services, with a marginal growth of 2.0%.[132]

Between 2005 and 2011, Greece has had the highest percentage increase in industrial output compared to 2005 levels out of all European Union members, with an increase of 6%.[131] Eurostat statistics show that the industrial sector was hit by the Greek financial crisis throughout 2009 and 2010,[132] with domestic output decreasing by 5.8% and industrial production in general by 13.4%.[132] Currently, Greece is ranked third in the European Union in the production of marble (over 920,000 tons), after Italy and Spain.

The fuselage for the Dassault nEUROn stealth jet is produced in Greece by the Hellenic Aerospace Industry.


Secondary sector

In 2007, Greece accounted for 19% of the EU's fishing haul in the Mediterranean sea,[130] ranked third with 85,493 tons,[130] and ranked first in the number of fishing vessels in the Mediterranean between European Union members.[130] Additionally, the country ranked 11th in the EU in total quantity of fish caught, with 87,461 tons.[130]

[129] Greece is a major beneficiary of the

In 2010, Greece was the European Union's largest producer of cotton (183,800 tons) and pistachios (8,000 tons)[127] and ranked second in the production of rice (229,500 tons)[127] and olives (147,500 tons),[128] third in the production of figs (11,000 tons) and [128] almonds (44,000 tons),[128] tomatoes (1,400,000 tons) [128] and watermelons (578,400 tons)[128] and fourth in the production of tobacco (22,000 tons).[127] Agriculture contributes 3.8% of the country's GDP[2] and employs 12.4% of the country's labor force.[2]

Fish farming, Argolic gulf
Vineyard in Naoussa, central Macedonia.

Agriculture and fishery

Primary sector

Greece exited its six-year recession in the second quarter of 2014,[51][7] but the challenges of securing political stability and debt sustainability remain.[126]

By July 2014 there was still anger and protests about the austerity measures, with a 24-hour strike among government workers timed to coincide with an audit by inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and European Central Bank in advance of a decision on a second bailout of one billion euros ($1.36 billion), due in late July.[125]

In 2013, Greece became the first developed market to be reclassified as an emerging market by financial services companies MSCI and S&P Dow Jones Indices.[122][123][124]

Public sector workers have come out on strike in order to resist job cuts and reductions to salaries as the government promises that a large scale privatisation programme will be accelerated.[120] Immigrants are sometimes treated as scapegoats for economic problems by far-right extremists.[121]

The financial crisis – particularly the austerity package put forth by the EU and the IMF – has been met with anger by the Greek public, leading to riots and social unrest. Despite the long range of austerity measures, the government deficit has not been reduced accordingly, mainly, according to many economists, due to the subsequent recession.[115][116][117][118][119] Consequently, the country's debt to GDP continues to rise rapidly.

On 15 November 2010 the EU's statistics body Eurostat revised the public finance and debt figure for Greece following an excessive deficit procedure methodological mission in Athens, and put Greece's 2009 government deficit at 15.4% of GDP and public debt at 126.8% of GDP making it the biggest deficit (as a percentage of GDP) amongst the EU member nations (although some have speculated that Ireland's in 2010 may prove to be worse).[111][112][113][114]

As a consequence, there was a crisis in international confidence in Greece's ability to repay its sovereign debt, as reflected by the rise of the country's borrowing rates (although their slow rise - the 10-year government bond yield only exceeded 7% in April 2010 - coinciding with a large number of negative articles, has led to arguments about the role of international news media in the evolution of the crisis). In order to avert a default (as high borrowing rates effectively prohibited access to the markets), in May 2010 the other Eurozone countries, and the IMF, agreed to a rescue package which involved giving Greece an immediate €45 billion in bail-out loans, with more funds to follow, totaling €110 billion.[106][107] In order to secure the funding, Greece was required to adopt harsh austerity measures to bring its deficit under control.[108] Their implementation will be monitored and evaluated by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF.[109][110]

According to Der Spiegel credits given to European governments were disguised as "swaps" and consequently did not get registered as debt because Eurostat at the time ignored statistics involving financial derivatives. A German derivatives dealer had commented to Der Spiegel that "The Maastricht rules can be circumvented quite legally through swaps," and "In previous years, Italy used a similar trick to mask its true debt with the help of a different US bank."[101] These conditions had enabled Greek as well as many other European governments to spend beyond their means, while meeting the deficit targets of the European Union and the monetary union guidelines.[96][102] In May 2010, the Greek government deficit was again revised and estimated to be 13.6%[103] which was the second highest in the world relative to GDP with Iceland in first place at 15.7% and Great Britain third with 12.6%.[104] Public debt was forecast, according to some estimates, to hit 120% of GDP during 2010.[105]

[101][100][99][98][97][96] Dozens of similar agreements were concluded across Europe whereby banks supplied cash in advance in exchange for future payments by the governments involved; in turn, the liabilities of the involved countries were "kept off the books".[96][95]

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