Greece’s Remarkable Rebound from Economic Crisis Still Rolling On

ATHENS – Almost nine years after teetering on the brink of expulsion from the Eurozone and experiencing a 25% economic contraction, Greece’s improbable resurgence persists, with a forecasted 3% growth for 2024.

While this is half of the nearly 6% growth seen in 2023, following the lifting of health restrictions the previous year to attract tourists, who constitute the country’s primary revenue source, it represents a near-miraculous turnaround for an economy once on the verge of collapse.

Greece required three international bailouts totaling €326 billion ($346.71 billion) from 2010 to 2018 to stave off bankruptcy, implementing severe austerity measures that disproportionately affected workers, pensioners, and the impoverished, while exempting parliament workers and benefiting the wealthy.

Reflecting on the recovery, Reuters stated, “A decade ago, Greece was in the throes of a devastating debt crisis marked by years of austerity, hardship, and unrest. Now, officials and investors say 2024 could be the year its rebound is finally complete.”

The projected growth for 2024 would bring annual growth levels close to those seen before the crisis in 2009, although it will take decades to repay the loans, and the country’s debt, while manageable, remains burdensome.

However, borrowing costs are now lower than those of Italy, and banks bailed out during the crisis are poised to be fully privatized for the first time in decades—a move viewed by some of the country’s largest investors as a sign of normalization.

“With (the state’s participation) out of the way, that’s a landmark,” said Wim-Hein Pals of asset manager Robeco, which recently acquired shares in Greek banks. “The Greek economy is in good shape to benefit from further growth going forward.”

There is a striking irony in Greece’s transformation: once the subject of ridicule among other European Union countries, it now outperforms them, including Germany, its former primary lender, which imposed draconian conditions on Greece.

Greece has ascended from junk bond status to investment grade according to global ratings agencies, and foreign investors are flocking to capitalize on the resurgence, with luxury resorts and five-star hotels springing up like crocuses in the spring.

However, not all is bright, as the population dwindles, wages remain depressed, and taxes are among the highest in the EU, with a 45% rate for those earning more than €40,000 ($42,554), rendering food prices unattainable for many.

“Many ordinary Greeks reeling from the crisis say they see little difference, as economists suggest that the broader benefits of the recovery will take time. To ensure long-term growth, the country must diversify beyond its traditional economic pillars of tourism, real estate, and services,” the report observed.

More than half of foreign direct investment into Greece, totaling around €7.5 billion ($7.98 billion) in 2022, originates from northern European countries like France and Germany, which are grappling with sluggish growth.

“Greek exports, including agricultural goods, fuel, and pharmaceutical products—two-thirds of which are destined for the EU—declined by almost 9% last year. Economic growth slowed to 2% in 2023, partly due to the lagging performance of its neighbors,” it was added.

“The reduced growth expectations in Europe affect Greece in two primary ways: through pressure on exports… and through the higher cost of money,” noted Nikos Vettas, head of the economic think tank IOBE, in remarks to Reuters.


ATHENS - As he did with Albania over the jailing of ethnic Greek Fredi Beleri after winning a mayoral election, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece will stymie North Macedonia’s hopes of joining the European Union if a new government insists on calling it Macedonia.

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