Greek economy swings back to growth in third quarter Q/Q, despite COVID

By Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou
·1-min read
A tourist wears a protective mask as he visits Lycabettus hill in Athens

By Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece emerged from its worst quarterly contraction on record to report 2.3% growth in output for the third quarter, aided by a tentative return to economic activity following the country's first coronavirus lockdown.

The Greek economy shrank 14.1% from April to June, covering most of the period it was in lockdown. It was the sharpest economic decline in at least 25 years, revised data showed.

On a yearly basis, output contracted 11.7% compared with the second quarter, confirming official expectations that for the year, gross domestic product would drop more than 10%.

"A decline in tourism by about 75 percent is reflected in the yearly data," said Nikos Magginas, chief economist at the National Bank of Greece.

Tourism is a key money maker, representing about 18% of output and employing one in five people.

Government support measures, along with spending deferred from the locked-down second quarter, supported the quarterly expansion, Magginas said.

The contraction is still bad news for Greece, which had, until the pandemic appeared, hoped to turn a page on years of economic hardship.

The country lost a quarter of its output during a decade-long financial crisis that required three international bailouts between 2010 and 2015.

A second nationwide lockdown, not as stringent as the first, is now in place following a surge in COVID-19 cases from October onwards. Greece has recorded fewer cases and deaths of COVID than most countries; by Thursday, it had 111,537 cases registered since February, and 2,706 deaths.

The present lockdown is due to run until Dec. 14.

(Writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Larry King)