Greece posts first current account surplus since 1948

Tourists at the Acropolis in Athens Greece's current account surplus was helped by record tourist spending

Related Stories

Record spending by tourists has helped Greece post its first current account surplus since official data began.

Figures from the Bank of Greece showed the difference between the money going into and coming out of the country was 1.24bn euros (£1bn) last year.

It was partly driven by a 15% increase in tourism receipts, the country's biggest earner.

The surplus was the first for the recession-hit economy since records began in 1948.

It is equivalent to about 0.7% of total Greek economic output, and is a marked improvement on 2012, when the current account registered a deficit of 4.6bn euros.

The Greek central bank said the change was largely due to a significant fall in imports - by about 4.5% - and a slight rise in exports, which helped reduce the size of the country's trade deficit to 2.4bn euros.

Falling wages have helped Greek firms' competitiveness, leading to a rise in exports of non-fuel goods by 2.1% to 14.2bn euros in 2013.

Tourism receipts also contributed strongly, rising to a record 12bn euros.

Economic recovery?

The current account was also helped by debt relief provided by Greece's lenders, which slashed interest payments by half to about 6bn euros in 2013.

Current account deficits have been a drag on the Greek economy for decades, with the gap having to be plugged by borrowing and investment from abroad.

Economists expect Greece to repeat a surplus this year, but say the country has not necessarily turned the corner.

"Sustaining the surplus in the longer term will depend on whether the economy maintains its competitiveness and on its capacity to increase import substitution with domestic production," said Eurobank economist Platon Monokroussos.

"Wage growth must stay in line with productivity gains."

Athens has said that Greece should emerge from recession in 2014, after six straight years of contraction. However, the country still faces huge economic challenges.

The jobless rate reached a record high of 28% in November, and tough austerity measures have shrunk the economy by nearly a quarter in four years.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    06:24: HALLOWEEN BBC World News
    Rico Hizon

    The Live Page's favourite business reporter Rico Hizon is sporting a black-on-black jacket and shirt combo with an orange tie this morning to celebrate Halloween. "Nothing is spooking the markets", he quipped on Radio 5 Live earlier.

     
  2.  
    06:22: ASIAN MARKETS

    The markets in Japan have now closed, and investors are grinning from ear-to-ear.

    • The Nikkei 225 index surged 4.9% to 16427.06 (highest since November 2007)
    • In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng rose 1.2%, ending at 23990.24

    Stocks in mainland China, India and South East Asia are also up.

     
  3.  
    06:15: JAPAN BOOSTS STIMULUS
    yen

    Here is how the yen reacted to the news from the Bank of Japan - down against the dollar to a six-year low.

     
  4.  
    06:07: JAPAN BOOSTS STIMULUS Radio 5 live

    The Bank of Japan's decision is an attempt to "recharge a fragile economic recovery" and it seems like Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "is getting desperate", our very own Rico Hizon tells Wake Up to Money. He adds that the move "weakened the Japanese Yen against the US Dollar to a level not seen for six years".

     
  5.  
    06:00: JAPAN BOOSTS STIMULUS
    Bank of Japan

    This will give you a sense of how surprising the Bank of Japan's decision to pump more money into the economy was. Bloomberg reports that only three of the 32 economists it had surveyed expected the Bank to ramp up its stimulus programme. In its statement, the BoJ says it was worried about "downward pressure on prices" - or lacklustre inflation, to you and me.

     
  6.  
    06:00: Edwin Lane Business reporter, BBC News

    We're also looking forward to results from Royal Bank of Scotland at 07:00. In May the bank - still 80% owned by us taxpayers - reported profits of £1.6bn, but warned of a tough year ahead. Get in touch with us on bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet us @BBCBusiness. You email it, we'll publish it. Probably.

     
  7.  
    06:00: Joe Miller Business Reporter

    Good morning. The Bank of Japan has unexpectedly announced a boost to its monetary stimulus programme, in an effort to revive the country's flagging economy. The decision caused Asian markets to soar, with the Nikkei reaching a 7-year high. More on that, and the rest of the morning's business headlines, to follow.

     

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • Francis Rossi, co-founder of band Status QuoHARDtalk Watch

    Status Quo's Francis Rossi explains how alcohol led him to take cocaine

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.