Friday, 29 July 2011

Greek exports: are things as rosy as they appear to be ?

We hear a lot about Greek exports lately and their outstanding performance. Well, once more, I think that things are not quite like they appear to be.

It is true that exports have ticked up in the past few months. Here's the relevant chart.

source: Eurostat

Notice that the whole spike comes from intermediate goods. Isn't that where oil products and other commodities are included ? Now bear with me to see the breakdown between intra-EU and extra-EU trade.

Here's the intra-EU chart.

source: Eurostat

Again the whole uptick comes from intermediate goods, all other categories are flat. 

source: Eurostat

Here the effect I mentioned above is more pronounced. There is an enormous spike in intermediate goods exports to extra-EU countries, to the point that for the first time in the time span shown in the chart, extra-EU trade surpassed the intra-EU one, even for 1-2 individual months.

What all these tell me is that the spike in Greek exports is mainly driven by the uptick in commodities prices and especially oil.

Before I leave you I want to share with you a last thought. 

There is a lot of talk lately about Italy and Cyprus. Not good talk at that since some people appear to be troubled about these two economies prospects (I want to seize this chance and say that I am really sorry about the terrible events that took place in Cyprus, this summer appears to be full of sad events).

Italy and Cyprus are among Greece's top exports destinations.

source: Eurostat

If they both enter a recession then this is bound to have an effect on Greek exports, doesn't it ? Notice that exports to both of them plunged during the 2009 recession. Do you think that should they enter a recession now will it be milder or harsher than the last one...?

UPDATE,  30/07/2011

A fellow twitterer, with whom we had a conversation regarding Greek exports yesterday, pointed out a new source of Greek external trade data, namely, Panehellenic Exporters Association.

So taking advantage of just that, here is a more detailed breakdown of Greek exports for the Jan - Apr 2011 time span.

source: Panhellenic Exporters Association

In the chart above I plotted the absolute change (in mln EUR) of each exports' category. As you can see the lion's share of change stems from fuels followed by industrial products. 

If you want to see what % of change each product family accounts for, look at the following chart.

source: Panhellenic Exporters Association, own calculations

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