Greece Country Risk Analysis

The following was an emerging markets project in a multinational finance course based on the country risk analysis of Greece…

 

 

Matt Helser

Mult Nat Fin

12/13/15

Country Risk Analysis

For centuries Greece was one of the most powerful and important economic hubs of the Mediterranean. The seemingly rich history of Ancient and Modern Greece has left wonders to the world of power and superiority, unmatched for hundreds of years. Fast forward to today and Greece is anything but a world power, when it comes to wealth they are one of the most in debt countries in the world. How Greece got to be where they are today in terms of how bad off financially their government has run them into the ground is amazing considering how it was let to happen. From political unrest, to economic turmoil, and a financial crisis, Greece has seen and been through it all.

    When it comes to politics, Greece has seen some of biggest and most hostile changing of power in its government, mostly of which may add up to why they are where they are today. When they left the Ottoman empire for independence around 1829, the Greeks were far from being under one imposed governing principle for the next almost 190 years. In that span Greece was ruled by a king, taken by Nazi control, run by a parliament (Election of a president later on, now prime minister). So many rulers of one small country in such a short time. To say there is any kind of unity based off those facts would be an overstatement and a stretch. The resiliency of the Greek people in support of these governments rings true as to why each have succeeded in different forms of rulings and order over time. The government today is lead by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who was elected in January 2015. The Greek people have loved Tsipras because of his nationalism attitude to unite Greece and its people against the rest of the world when it comes to refusing to sign away their future, specifically in financial terms. Tsipras had the popular support of his people after he pleaded with them to vote no in a July 2015 referendum on whether or not to accept terms of a bailout agreement, and they followed his words by doing so. He then did a complete 180 and agreed to the bailout terms to an extent and to work on them further, which angered many people in his country. Tsipras resigned in August 2015 and then was re-elected in September, almost a month after his resignation. The instability politically could definitely be seen as a factor as to why Greece is in the situation right now.

One of the problems with Greece is that they cannot get out of their own way when it comes to realizing their financial situation is not good for themselves and the rest of the Eurozone both short and long term. When it comes to socioeconomics, the country has not put the right leaders in place to get them out of their desperation financially, but instead elect leaders who stand in their resilience. That has not helped them in any way to turn down long term deals and bargain for better short term outcomes. As of September 2015 the unemployment rate was 24.6%. For the entire year of 2014 Greece had the highest unemployment rate among other European countries with 27%, the next closest was Spain, which is also in turmoil today, but only had 25% unemployment rate in 2014 compared with Greece. For the 3rd quarter 2015 a report by Cushman and Wakefield suggested primary rents are somewhat stable,  along with high retail yields yet the sector has not improved much even with those high yields. The same report also makes a reference to the high tax hikes which will likely cause no drastic changes with improving domestic spending in Greece until what was mentioned to be 2017 at the earliest. Greece’s 2014 per capita income was $21,682.6 which are the most recent numbers and in USD$. Even with a population of about 10.6 million those number are low for income in a Eurozone country. Consider Germany, which is at one of the highest points for the Eurozone countries with per capita income of about $47,000 USD, and then Greece which has the one of the lowest, as mentioned before (With relativity to its population and GDP).

The investment risk of Greece is still not very attractive to many buyers. Greece debt is held in large part by Germany, which leads the international bailout funding. The way the current restructuring and agreement is still going on will result in how future investment is done from external forces in Greece.

Internally Greece is a resilient bunch. They do not want to give away their financial freedoms that past generations have enjoyed, yet do not see that those overly compensated for so many years have dug them into the hole they are into today. No one likes tax hikes and lower retirement plan contributions, but they had a good run while they did, yet no one sees those are things that have to happen to not have their country be in default. Greece has not had any political violence for a few decades, but that does not mean it could not happen again, and soon. As of recently, two of the suspected Paris attackers moved through Greece posing as refugees. That slip up in security and although no direct terrorism was done in Greece, that is a big security slip up. No one saw the Paris attacks coming, yet still the fact that Greece was in the plans to get to Europe is a big factor in counter terrorism.

When it comes to outside or external factors against Greece, it has had the benefit of being an island without neighboring countries on any kind of border. The financial external pressures from the rest of the Eurozone has been exhausting to listen to, surely it is worse on the inside to have to deal with it. Internal conflicts in its history, most notable being being seized by Nazi control in WWII.

Stories of corruption is not a surprise in a country awry with horrible financial planning. It is hand-in-hand with the situation the Greeks are in to have tax evasion, corruption in politics, and other things of the like. Even with small countries there will always be the problem with not claiming income and money under the table, but Greece’s problem will be magnified because of its GDP problems. Taxable income provides a strong revenue stream for a country, but when  people cheat the system that does not help. Corruption will only get worse as the tax rates rise.

The only real military threat Greece has faced was back in 1967 when George Papadopoulos took control. Even then the government has sorted itself out to be ruled in a democracy. Religion and intolerance has not played a major role (Maybe in ancient times) today, which is a common pattern in Eurozone countries, which all seem to be pretty stable when it comes to military, religion, and government separation in today’s times. The democracy, even though working against its best interest, was definitely a big factor in July 2015. A referendum was held in a public voted as suggested by PM Tsipras. The vote was whether or not to accept the terms of a Germany lead Greek Bailout. The vote was to be held all day with the results posted in the nighttime. The people were swayed by a voicturous Tsipras the day before the vote pleading his case to the Greek people on TV by saying they cannot accept the terms and they must stand united. When it was announced the Greek people voted no on a bailout, that really showed how much support Tsipras had of his people that they thought they would get a better deal from holding out. The people also hold parliamentary elections, so the outcomes are determined by the people as to who rules the country.

The growth of Greece has been slow. In 2014 Greece GDP in $USD was $237.59 billion. Its GDP growth rate was -.90 % as of its last quarter. Greece’s debt is so bad compared to its GDP, they had to increase its debt maturity rate from 20 years to 40 year maturity. At one point the Debt to GDP was at 177%. If terms are not strong and held on to in agreement with Greece the bailouts could happen until a reported 2020.

Financially the Greeks total debt currently is $426 billion $USD. Which explains the 177% debt to GDP, because their GDP is only $237.59 billion $USD. They cannot afford to pay off their debts, and have had to make many cuts to programs, retirement ages, tax hikes. It is unbelievably lucky how Greece is in the Eurozone and thus has the Euro as a currency. The current exchange rate of the USD to the Euro is EUR$1.00 to $1.10. Greece is lucky it did not leave the Eurozone and the currency would probably have been worth nothing if they did so. Greece’s average inflation rate is around -1.99%, therefore it is deflation. The balance of trade with the rest of Europe is a discouraging -$2.0 billion EUR.

When Greece defaulted its payment to the IMF on June 30th 2015, that $1.7 billion payment would cause havoc in the country, Eurozone, and the rest of the world’s markets. Greece is back to the bottom of the barrel in the Eurozone and will have to basically completely reset their financial future in order to even have a hope. They need to give up so many luxuries they have enjoyed over the years. It realistically could be another 10 years before Greece is back to being some sort of economic power. Though some numbers may suggest sooner, based on the history of the way the country is run, it seems the people will vote in a likely candidate that will get things straightened out. Greece has some of the richest history in the world and was a valuable part of Europe, especially when voted into the Euro in 2002. The Greeks, known historically for producing some of the best shipping companies and lanes in the world to olive oil will have to reinvent itself. Greece should be able to get out of this situation and have an impact in producing results for the Euro. The leadership of Greece is playing to its people as of right now. It remains to be seen if the current government can sustain and uphold the regulations and compliance they have to go by. The resiliency of the Greek people will be its biggest benefactor and biggest downfall. It has taken Germany to head a committee to get Greece back on track. In the end a country’s situation is up to its people. When your way of life is threatened you should do something about it. The Greeks may want to open a history textbook and get back to the basics, especially when it comes to getting a country of 10+ million back on right financial terms, and that might take a leader who will not tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.

 

Works Cited

 

Cambanis, Thanassis. “Why Can’t Greece Shake Its Corruption Problem? – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. N.p., 22 Aug. 2014. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

Ferreira, Joana. “Greece Unemployment Rate | 1998-2016 | Data | Chart | Calendar | Forecast.” Greece Unemployment Rate | 1998-2016 | Data | Chart | Calendar | Forecast. N.p., 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

“France – At Least Two Paris Attackers ‘travelled through Greece’.” France 24. N.p., 21 Nov. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

“Greece Election: Alexis Tsipras Hails ‘victory of the People’ – BBC News.” BBC News. N.p., 21 Sept. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

“Greece Profile – Timeline – BBC News.” BBC News. N.p., 11 Aug. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

Kottasova, Ivana. “Greek Debt Crisis: Who Has Most to Lose?” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

Maltezou, Renee. “Tsipras Resigns, Paving Way for Snap Greek Election.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 21 Aug. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

Team, Data. “Continental Drift.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 28 July 2015. Web. 06 Jan. 2016.

Toth, Istvan. “Market Snapshot.” The Journal of Private Equity Private Equity 18.1 (2014): 102-03. Cushmanwakefield.com. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

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