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Country Forecast Greece February 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Greece February 2018 Updater

  • February 2018
  • ID: 5337059


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  • The coalition government-comprising Syriza Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza, the party of the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras), and the small, right-wing nationalist Independent Greeks (AE)-has increased its majority from three to four in the 300-seat parliament, but is unlikely to last until the next scheduled election in late 2019. The Economist Intelligence Unit believes that an election in 2018 is likely, after which the centre-right New Democracy (ND) would probably form a coalition government.
  • We expect Greece to exit the third economic adjustment programme when it expires in August 2018, but policy conditionality will continue until Greece's debt to its international creditors is substantially reduced. Protests over labour market reforms, pension cuts, privatisation and tax and social security increases are likely to continue as the government strives to meet the ambitious annual primary surplus budget target of 3.5% of GDP until 2022 agreed with Greece's euro zone creditors. There is an increased risk of social and political instability.
  • We do not think that the policies contained in the economic adjustment programme will generate sufficient economic growth to mitigate Greece's debt burden or reduce popular disaffection with austerity. Political stability and Greece's membership of the euro zone will therefore remain in question over the forecast period (2018-22).
  • Our expectation is that Greece will remain in the EU but leave the euro zone by the end of our forecast period. It is impossible to pinpoint the timing of the exit, so we have not built it into our forecast numbers. Grexit would be accompanied by a major debt default and would produce a severe recession for one or two years. After that the economy would grow at a rapid pace. Growth rates under this scenario would be faster than in our medium-term forecast.
  • We estimate that annual real GDP expanded by 1.3% in 2017, following a contraction of 0.3% in 2016, as budget austerity has continued to hold back the economic recovery. We forecast average annual real GDP growth of 1.8% in 2018-22. We expect that public debt will still equal about 170% of GDP in 2022.
  • We forecast that annual average inflation will edge up from 1.1% in 2017 to 1.2% in 2018 and an annual average of 1.7% per year in 2019-22, reflecting higher oil prices and a pick-up in domestic demand. These trends will result in widening current-account deficits in 2018-22, but these will remain moderate compared with the pre-crisis period.

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