17 Feb 2022

The Greek Wire - February 2022

The Greek Wire is a monthly newsletter aiming to inform you about key economic and political developments in Greece.

22-26 May 2022: Greek House Davos at the World Economic Forum Annual Summit Meeting 2022

The World Economic Forum will hold its Annual Summit Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, from 22 to 26 May 2022. After two years of COVID restrictions, the WEF is preparing for a dynamic return. Under the title "Working Together, Restoring Confidence", this year's Forum will give emphasis on rebuilding the economy after the pandemic, tackling climate change, building a better future for work and leveraging the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Greek House Davos will be there. At Promenade 49d, the "Greek House" will be a strong ally of the Greek companies and enterprises that wish to be present in Davos and participate in the broader activities of the World Economic Forum and its partners.

International Symposium on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Closing of Halki Theological School

The International Symposium on Interreligious Dialogue and the Ecumenical Role of the Halki Theological School was held on February 6 and 7, under the blessing of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Symposium took place in Heybeliada Island, Istanbul, Turkey on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Closing of the Halki Theological School. Bringing together high-level representatives from academia, politics and the civil society, the International Scientific Symposium aimed at raising awareness of the need for interreligious dialogue as a key driver for the promotion of peace, human rights and harmonious coexistence.

Among the keynote speakers were: Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission Symeon Paschalidis, Professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Director of the Patriarchal Institute of Patriarchal Studies; Carey Cavanaugh, President of International Alert, former Ambassador, Rhett Power, Editor at Forbes Magazine, Barbara Kolm, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Austria; Marco Ventura, Director of the Center for Religious Studies, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Professor of Religious Diplomacy at the University of Sienna; Rabbi Elie Abadie, Senior Rabbi, Jewish Council of the United Arab Emirates; Jerome Binde, former Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, Agamemnon Tselikas, Director of the History Center of the National Bank of Greece. The Symposium was organized by Irini Vantaraki and AVADAR Transatlantic.

Up to 14 weekly flights between Greece and US

Good news for tourism and the US-Greece relations. US airlines will operate 14 direct flights every week between eight large US airports and Athens, following last summer when scheduled flights from the US to the Athens International Airport reached an unprecedented number. The start of direct flights from the United States to Greece on March 7, amounts to a vote of confidence in our country by a key market that adds high value to Greek tourism,” stated Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias. Noteworthy is that the US tourists rank first in per capita spending, for Greece.

Greek businesses are… “Back in business”

Τhe turnover of enterprises and the activities of the economy as a whole in 2021 amounted to 332,4bn euro, recording an increase of 21.1% in comparison with 2020, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority. The largest increase in turnover per 59.8% in 2021 compared with 2020 was recorded from the enterprises of the section Accommodation and Food Service Activities, while the smallest increase in turnover per 2.7% was recorded from the enterprises of Real Estate Activities section. Concerning the enterprises and the activities of the economy as a whole, the turnover in the fourth quarter 2021 amounted to 99bn euro, recording an increase of 32.7% in comparison with the fourth quarter 2020. The biggest increase in turnover per 88.6% in the fourth quarter 2021 compared with the fourth quarter 2020 was recorded from the enterprises of the section Arts, Entertainment and Recreation, while the smallest increase in turnover per 0.1% was recorded from the enterprises of the section Mining and Quarrying.

RRF to spur investments in 2022

Investments in the Greek economy are on the rise, 2022 should mark a transition towards more balanced growth, with a bigger role for investment. The process should be crucially helped by the inflow of grants and loans from the European Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), mostly channeled into the digital and green domains. These should at first propel the public investment component, which had undergone severe cuts over the fiscal adjustments of the last decade, but also activate new private investment. By summer 2022, the Greek government would have to tender a number of information technology projects budgeted at 1.2bn euros that concern the digitalization of the public administration as well as the digitalization of small and medium enterprises. According to the report, by the end of 2022 the value of the projects to be tendered increases further to 1.9bn and these represent the biggest part of the earmarked funds from the RRF.

JP Morgan makes 49% strategic investment in Greek fintech Viva Wallet

JPMorgan Chase acquired a 49% stake in the Greek fintech Viva Wallets. The Athens-based company serves small and medium-sized businesses in 23 European countries through bill pay, merchant cash advance and card acceptance through a point-of-sale app. Viva Wallets is also a virtual debit card issuer. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. But the Greek firm was valued at more than $2 billion. JPMorgan's investment will exceed $1.15 billion, including a capital increase that won’t dilute its founders' majority stake, Reuters reported Tuesday. Viva Wallet obtained a banking license when it bought Greece's first digital challenger, Praxia Bank, in 2020 which could be handy if JPMorgan decides to increase its stake.

Hellenic Development Bank and NDC join forces to boost innovation and entrepreneurship

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Wednesday, February 9, 2022 by the Director of the National Center for Documentation and Electronic Content (NDC) Evi Sachini and the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Development Bank (HDB) and Executive Member Pantelis Tzortzakis. The NDC and the HDB will jointly explore partnerships to support innovative entrepreneurship and business participation in networking and extroversion actions. The HDB is able to add value to public data produced by the NDC (indicators, data and statistics) with a public development benefit. In particular, it will use the public data available to the NDC to better group stakeholders by sector, identifying needs and funding gaps. It will also rely on anonymous statistical indicators, data and data collected by the NDC, to contribute to the design of policies related to the Research, Development, Innovation and Digital Economy system.

The "Green Patriarch" and the World Economic Forum

From bankers and UN bureaucrats to world leaders delegates are to attend Davos, Switzerland, for the 2022 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The world’s most powerful people are to discuss the most pressing issues facing the global economy and more. Among the esteemed guests graced the forum in the past was his All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The "Green Patriarch" has persistently proclaimed the primacy of spiritual values in determining environmental ethics and action. His endeavors have earned him the title "Green Patriarch" coined and publicized by the media in 1996, while being formalized in the White House in 1997 by Al Gore, when he was the Vice President of the United States.

Inflation leaps to 25-year high in January

Inflation hit a high last seen in 1997, jumping to 6.2% in January 2022 from 5.1% in December 2021, driven by skyrocketing housing, transportation and food prices. According to the Greek statistical authority the average consumer price index for the 12-month period from February 2021 to January 2022 increased by 1.9%, compared the February 2020 to January 2021. ELSTAT said, that was due chiefly to a 22.6% spike in the cost of housing on the back of rising rates in rent and utilities like electricity and heating, with natural gas posting a whopping leap of 154%. The cost of transportation is also hitting households, growing by 11.1% as a result of hikes in the price of purchasing a vehicle and keeping it running with increasingly costly fuel.

Unemployment rate falls at 12.8% in December

The Hellenic Statistical Authority announced the seasonally adjusted estimates of employment and unemployment for December 2021. It should be noted that in December, the labour market was affected by specific regulatory measures concerning the operation of businesses, as well as by measures taken to protect public health and tackle the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the whole Country. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in December 2021 amounted to 12.8% compared to the downward revised 15.5% in December 2020 and to the upwards revised 13.4% in November 2021. The number of employed persons amounted to 4,075,808 persons, increasing by 188,872 persons as compared with December 2020 (+4.9%) and decreased by 11,908 persons compared with November 2021 (-0.3%). The number of unemployed persons amounted to 596,067 decreasing by 118,891 persons as compared with December 2020 (-16.6%) and by 35,781 persons compared with November 2021 (-5.7%).