World Economy

Dire Projections for Greece

Dire Projections for GreeceDire Projections for Greece

Any Greeks hoping their days of economic pain are over following the latest bailout agreement with international lenders should look at the dire projections from Europe’s three main institutional forecasters for a reality check.

The European Commission, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development all say Greece is heading into recession again this year and next, sinking back into the mire after last year’s positive reading ended a six-year depression, Reuters reported.

The light at the end of the tunnel, all three say, may be some growth returning during next year–but it is highly dependent on economic and banking reform.

There will be arguments about why Greece remains in such a state – from accusations in Athens that lender-imposed austerity has crushed the life out of the economy to gripes from Brussels that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s leftists wasted what improvements had been achieved.

The two sides are again at loggerheads – albeit possibly temporarily–over reforms and bailout cash, with the added complexity that Tsipras does not want to see indebted Greeks lose their homes while the country is providing food and housing for thousands of asylum-seekers.

But there is no disagreement among the forecasters about the direction the Greek economic is heading.

Both the Commission and the OECD see a 1.4% contraction this year, while the EBRD sees 1.5%.

This is particularly severe given the first half of the year saw growth of 1%, put down to Greeks running out to buy durable goods ahead of a threatened “Grexit” from the eurozone.

 Pain and Pleasure

There is more divergence among the forecasters about next year. The Commission and OECD see a contraction of 1.3% and 1.2%, respectively.

The Commission reckons much of this will be carry-over effects from this year’s political and economic turmoil, which included a failure to complete the previous bailout program, a referendum on austerity, a bitter fight with lenders, and the introduction of capital controls, many of which remain.

The EBRD, however, expects a decline of 2.4%. Its mere involvement is significant, given that it only added Greece to its bailiwick of mainly poor, emerging economies this year.

If there is any good news for Greece it is that all three forecasters see growth returning in 2016.

The EBRD offers no 2017 projection but says growth may start again in next year’s second quarter, while the Commission predicts 2.7% and the OECD 2.1% in 2017.