Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Dissecting Greek Manufacturing's surprisingly robust performance during the Pandemic.

Greece, as is widely known, is anything but a manufacturing powerhouse. In fact, it ranks 4th to last among its EU peers when it comes to the share of manufacturing in total gross value added. Despite that indisputable fact though the country's manufacturing sector made a surprisingly (given its track record) decent showing thus far into the Pandemic. But which sub-sectors have done well? Is it domestic or foreign demand that's doing the heavy lifting? This post will try to answer the aforementioned questions by administering its usual excessive dosage of charts.

First of all, just to get this out of the way, here is the ranking of EU countries according to Manufacturing's relative share of the total gross value added produced in the economy. Data for 2019 are used so that the said ranking won't be influenced by the Pandemic's effects (actually manufacturing's share in Greece notched up to 10,2% in 2020).

source: Eurostat
And here, without further ado, is how each EU country's manufacturing sector has fared thus far into the Pandemic. To gauge that, the volume of production index's 12-month MA was computed and 2020M01's level was set as the base.

source: Eurostat, own calculations

As you can see, for the time being, Greece sits in 5th place (although it would probably be pushed down to 6th if Ireland - given how pharma-heavy the sector there is - released s.a. manufacturing production data as well).

Moving on to how each individual sub-sector has done, the same calculation as above was repeated on a sectoral basis this time and the results can be found in the following chart. 

source: Eurostat, own calculations

The fact that Pharmaceuticals are topping the ranking comes is not surprising and the same could probably be said about Tobacco Products as well but Motor Vehicles, Transport Equipment and Electronics doing that good sure qualifies as such.

On the other end of the list, the fact that leather products and wearing apparel didn't do well was only to be expected but seeing that both Food Products and Oil Products (i.e. Greek manufacturing's largest sectors) not only didn't contribute in that stellar performance but subtracted from it (even if slightly), makes the said performance even more of an impressive feat.

Something else that's worth pointing out is that in Greece's case, 16 of the 24 manufacturing sub-sectors grew during the period in question while for the Euro Area as a whole the same figure only amounts to 8.

source: Eurostat, own calculations

Another question worth asking is where did that demand come from? Was its source domestic or foreign?

Unfortunately the Volume Index of Production for Manufacturing doesn't provide such a breakdown. But, the Turnover Index for Manufacturing on the other hand, does. Kind of. The only problem is that this particular index, unlike the Production one, is in nominal terms.

In general, I'm not a big fan of deflating economic data on a DIY basis. But in this particular case I'll give it a go while stressing at the same time that this solution is far from perfect and that someone might find it wanting. Anyway, here we go. 

Since the Producer Price Index for Manufacturing is not seasonally adjusted the same index configuration for Manufacturing Turnover was used. The formula used in order to deflate the Turnover Index was: (Index of Turnover / Producer Price Index)*100.

Furthermore, the unit of measure picked for all series was (index, 2015 = 100) and the 12-month MA for all series was calculated and subsequently re-based to 2020M01 = 100.

As it turns out from our little exercise, Exports did significantly better than the Domestic Market but if one takes into account the fact that Greece's manufacturing sector is not the most export-oriented this doesn't necessarily translate into a bigger contribution in absolute terms. Unfortunately Eurostat doesn't provide the individual weights for each sector or market in the Turnover index (at least as far as I know) so I cannot provide any concrete numbers on that.

source: Eurostat, own calculations

It's time to wrap this one up. Hopefully you got till the end and weren't put off by all those charts and my blabbing. Greece's long-suffering manufacturing sector has managed to put on a fight during the Pandemic and not only stand its ground but even managing to finish in the top-5 among its EU peers when it comes to growth. What's more, foreign demand for the sector's produce grew way faster than the domestic one. Hopefully, the sector will manage to build on that and repeat something even remotely similar when the Pandemic is finally over, grow its relative share in the economy and set itself on a sustainable footing.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Greece Q3 GDP print: more to it than what the headline figure would have you believe.

The latest GDP figures for Greece were abysmal. That much can be verified by a quick look at the headline figure without further probing. If one though doesn't satisfy himself/herself with that and decides to put in the extra effort needed in order to drill down a bit further he/she may see a more nuanced (and maybe a bit less grim) picture starting to emerge. 

Given the situation that the world currently finds itself in, Greece's 3rd quarter GDP print was structurally destined to be really bad since Q3 traditionally sees the height of the tourist season and tourism is bearing the brunt of the Covid shock. So, Q3 saw Greek GDP contract by 11,65% on a year-over-year (YoY) basis, the largest drop recorded by a EU member country (excluding Luxembourg and Slovakia, as Eurostat had not reported data for these two countries at the time I was writing this).

source: Eurostat

So Greece's Q3 GDP print sucked. That's it, case closed, one might say. But I think that, luckily, it's not as straightforward as that. A look beneath the hood is warranted so as to get the full picture.

Let's start with Household Final Consumption. It expanded by 1% YoY, with Greece being one of just 4 EU countries where Household Consumption grew YoY. It seems that employment protection programs (maybe along with the savings amassed by households during the 1st lockdown period) put in place managed to support households in the midst of a unprecedented shock that delivered a massive hit to the core of Greece's economic model. Finally, increased card usage due to the Pandemic might have played a role too by bringing part of the informal consumption out in the open.

source: Eurostat
Next in line is Final Consumption of General Government, which also grew by 4,4% YoY. This was the 6th largest increase in the EU, no mean feat given the fact that Greece currently has the highest sovereign debt load among EU member states by far. Let's just hope that this won't come back to bite us later. At the same time, without fiscal support the nature and the fierceness of the shock would make the 2010-2012 depression appear like a walk in the park. And this highlights perfectly the "damned if you do damned if you don't" nature of the Greek government's choices on that matter...

source: Eurostat

Next, a look at Investment. Gross Capital Formation grew by 31,5% YoY but the figure was heavily skewed by an increase in stocks as Gross Fixed Capital Formation (i.e. fixed investment) remained essentially unchanged, posting a marginal 0,3% YoY decrease. This may not seem like much but in the current environment and given that it was the 6th highest reading in the EU, it's not something to be scoffed at.  

source: Eurostat
What's more, here too, the headline number is not telling the whole story. If one drills down a bit further, he/she will find that the headline number is skewed by Investment in Transport Equipment sinking to ~47% of last year's level, while all other Fixed Investment components grew YoY. 
source: ELSTAT, own calculations
Oh and I forgot to mention that this is only the 2nd time this has happened post-2006.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

The last GDP components that we'll be looking at are Exports. The figure for Exports of Goods was more than decent, since they increased by 3,5% YoY with Greece's performance once again ranking 6th among its EU peers. 

source: Eurostat

 Finally, it's time to take a look at the culprit, the component that inflicted all that economic pain. Exports of Services decreased by a whopping 80% YoY. Furthermore, the one fixed investment component that stood out like a sore thumb (i.e. Transport Equipment) can be traced back to the tradable services sector too since the sectors most likely responsible for the drop are Shipping and Tourism (car rental firms). 

source: Eurostat

One would be excused to be doubtful about whether one component can be enough to cause a 11+% GDP drop. Well, as you can see in the chart below, given the magnitude of the drop in that one component, sadly it's more than enough...

source: Eurostat, own calculations
It's time to wrap this up. If one wanted to sum the post up in one sentence this would probably be that Greece's economic model over-reliance to Tourism (esp. post-2008) did the country a poor service this time around. Due to the Covid shock, Tourism went from a tailwind to a hurricane-force headwind in the space of a couple of quarters. With the aid of (among other things) the fiscal stimulus deployed, services exports aside, the rest of the GDP components held up decently, posting figures better than EU and EA averages. As to what's next, well your guess is as good as mine...


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

A look at the Greek housing market

If anyone is still paying any attention to this southeastern corner of the EU called Greece, he/she might have noticed that, for the first time since 2008, house prices rose during the first three quarters of 2018. Given the sky-high unemployment and fall in wages the fact that it took so long should come as no surprise. The million dollar Euro question is if the crisis will lead to a paradigm shift in the Greek property market.

As remarked upon in the opening paragraph, house prices rose in the first three quarters of 2018. Here's the chart.

source: Bank of Greece, own calculations

From a geographical point-of-view, these increases were uneven, with prices in Athens rising more compared to the rest of the country but then, with the exception of Thessaloniki, prices in Athens had also fallen more these past years. Some people take this as a sign that short-term rentals are the root-cause of this increase. They could very well be right. But the goal of this post is not to verify the truthfulness of this claim. I'm sure a few of you must feel disappointed by that. But even if this is the case, bear with me since some of the charts that will come next might indirectly answer this question.

Next, a quick peek at how activity in the sector is evolving. According to Greece's national accounts, fixed investment in dwellings started to increase in tandem with prices.

source: ELSTAT

I now want to take a look at how demand for housing is faring at the moment. One way to gauge this is by looking at the stated intentions of consumers in the European Comission's Consumer Survey.

source: European Commission

As you can surely spot in the chart above, intentions to build or purchase a home are still essentially flat-lining near their all-time lows with just a marginal uptick in the 4th quarter of 2018. At the same time, intentions to engage in home-improving work in the next 12 months have picked up and currently stand at a decent level. Maybe this particular data-point captures the effect short-term rentals have on the market. The former data-point confirms anecdotal evidence claiming that, at the moment, the vast majority of buyers are foreign, since the survey captures only the intentions of domestic consumers and these are nowhere to be seen.

The following chart provides information both for the demand and the supply side at the same time.

source: European Comission, own calculations

According to responses in European Comission's Construction Survey, the most cited reason that is currently limiting  activity in the sector is insufficient demand, having retreated slightly from its all-time highs during the summer of 2017.

So, all data-points above considered, I think we can safely conclude that domestic buyers are few and far in between right now.

But how do things look for the sector going forward? As far as domestic demand for housing goes, things do not look very rosy I'm afraid. Unemployment is still sky-high and according to Labour Ministry's data (Ergani) the majority of new jobs added are of the part-time variety. Hardly the ideal background for making someone willing to purchase or build a house. And while Greece is still fumbling around unable to come up with a new growth model (other than tourism) this trend could persist for a while.

Moreover, property taxation was increased during the crisis, to the point that it went from bringing in state coffers the Euro Area average, as a % of GDP, to bringing in double that in 2016. Of course, this acts as a major counter-incentive when it comes to owning a house and it has led many people to give up inherited real estate assets so that they won't have to pay property taxes. Given that Greece has to continue running particularly high primary budget surpluses for the foreseeable future the possibility of property taxation being reduced to its pre-crisis levels any time soon is beyond remote.

source: European Commission

Moving on to the actual means of funding a purchase, household saving is still deep in negative territory. So the only buyers financing a purchase through their own funds are those who had saved in the past or those who might have some financial assistance from their families lined up.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

Now as far as taking up a loan is concerned, housing loans flows are still negative even though they are slowly becoming less so.

source: Bank of Greece, own calculations

Difficulties is acquiring funding could push newly-formed households that don't have a vacant family house to fall back on, into renting. Anecdotal evidence, claim that rents have increased the past two years or so but this is not supported by the rentals component of the Consumer Price Index which has not recorded a year-on-year increase since 2011.

source: ELSTAT

On the other hand, the portion of households living in rented accommodation has risen in the past two years, lending some credence to those anecdotal claims and point to this simply not being captured by the relative CPI component. Still, the chunk of households that are renting is lower than what it was in 2008, before the Greek depression started to display its considerable force. Pretty counter-intuitive but maybe explained by the trend of young people returning to live in their parents house due to the crisis kicking in.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

Returning to the supply-side, one further issue that developers have to grapple with is a squeeze in their margins. As mentioned above house prices have dipped by about 41% since their 2008Q3 peak but construction costs have only decreased by about 7% during the same period. Drilling down further into this, labour costs have fallen by about 11,5% while the cost of materials has decreased by just 4%.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

This could price smallest developers out of the market if and when activity picks up meaningfully and pave the way for bigger ones to gain market share, a departure from the previous paradigm of numerous small developers surely.

To wrap this up since it has become ridiculously long, it is beyond argument that domestic demand for housing in Greece is currently anemic. Whether it will pick up noticeably in the future depends on the degree that the trends outlined above will persist. If things don't change meaningfully in these respects they could lead a bigger percent of newly-formed households, compared to the past, into renting instead of buying. Of course, in life and most certainly in Greece, things rarely evolve linearly so I guess that only time will tell...

Friday, 28 September 2018

Greece: mapping recent job gains

An anemic recovery is currently taking place in Greece. This has led to some job creation in a labour market still reeling from the depression that the country went through. Since little attention has been paid to detail thus far it would be more than interesting to try and map the characteristics of any job gains accrued. Certain aspects of this anemic bout of job creation are somewhat surprising and definitely very different from those of the last such wave that took place during the 00s.

For the aforementioned goals to come into fruition, data from Labour Force Survey's quarterly series were used. This dataset has some pros and cons, the main pro being its detail and the main con being that it's not seasonally adjusted, something not particularly helpful in the case of Greece's tourism-heavy economy where seasonality is ever-present. To overcome this last issue and smooth seasonal variations out, 4-quarter moving averages of all the series will be used, something that while not ideal does not distort the underlying picture.

The first dimension that has to be looked into is the sectors that created the jobs.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

In the current recovery the leader in job creation is the tourism sector, with retail trade in second place and manufacturing in third (i.e. two of the three top job-creating sectors belong to the tradable sector).
The exact opposite was true for the 2001 - 2007 period. 

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

In this case, the 6 top job-creating sectors were of the non-tradable variety with just Tourism (which ranked 7th) belonging to the tradable family. So, a distinct feature of this recovery is that tradable sectors account for most (or at least for a big part) of those "new jobs".

Another lens through which to examine the jobs created is their spatial distribution. During the 00s, more than half of the new jobs created were in the Attica region. This time around though Attica accounted for just 17% of new jobs.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

In fact, as far as where the number of employed persons stands regarding to employment's pre-depression peak, Attica ranks dead last among all Greek provinces.  It is worth mentioning that Central Macedonia, whose capital is Thessaloniki, was a larger contributor during the current recovery.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations
If we move on and take a look at the age distribution of the persons who filled those new jobs we come across something unexpected that seems to belie quite a lot of anecdotal evidence making the rounds in Greece. Or does it? Namely, the vast majority of new jobs where filled by people belonging in the 45-64 age class. What's even more remarkable is that at the same time unemployment for people in that age group is indeed pretty sticky (anecdotal evidence were not wrong after all). So how did this age bracket account for the lion's share of job creation? The answer is because its inactives came back into the labour force. Someone more cynical than me would ask, "were those people really inactive or just working informally who for some reason or other decided to make their employment formal?" and put this whole post's raison d'ĂȘtre into question in the process. Well, your guess is as good as mine...

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

If we move on to the educational background of the people filling those new jobs one can find out that the majority of positions were filled by technical education/vocational degree holders while the second largest group was people with a secondary education background.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

A few conclusions can be reached if the figures in the chart above are juxtaposed with the percent of total population that falls under each educational background.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

First, there seems to be a premium attached to somebody having a post-graduate degree since people who do so account for a much larger chunk of jobs created than their respective population share. Second, people with a technical/vocational education background also account for a significantly larger share of new jobs than what their share of total population would imply. Third, people with a secondary education background are also over-represented, implying that the technological content of a big chunk of new positions is not particularly high. Finally, people with lower educational backgrounds are not represented at all in job creation, a fact indicating that these are almost solely people beyond retirement age who have (or are in the process of) dropped out of the labour force.

To sum this up, the effort to map the distribution of recent job gains according to a number of different variables produced some quite interesting and, in some cases, surprising results. In an effort to sum findings up, we could say that contrary to the last recovery, this time around the top job creator seem to be the country's tradable sector (mostly tourism) while, also unlike in the last expansion, the lion's share of new jobs were created outside the province of Attica (where Athens is located). In perhaps the most surprising result produced by the data-crunching undertaken to write this post, it turns out that more than 70% of new jobs were filled by people aged between 45 - 64 years old. On another note, postgraduate qualifications as well as technical and vocational degree holders seem to be in high demand while people with a basic educational attainment also don't seem to go to waste implying that a lot of the jobs created are in sectors with a middling to low technological content. That is all for now, thank you for taking the time to read the post.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Assessing the breadth of the current Greek recovery

We keep hearing about the "Greek recovery". International media outlets have got on the wagon and the Greek government is certainly doing its best in making it sound as if Greece has finally turned the page after the monumental crisis we went through the past (not so) few years. But is that the case?

For some time now I wanted to do a post assessing the breadth of the Greek recovery. The novelty of the current post is twofold. First, I used nominal (and not real) variables. The reason is that, on top of everything else, I wanted to gauge how the recovery is being felt on the ground at the moment and since we're living in a nominal world (and since very small enterprises account for the lion share of the Greek corporate universe - and these are not paradigms of sophistication in this respect) I thought that this is the way to go. The other novel aspect of this post is that I wanted to look at the whole thing from the production side. So I took a look at sectoral turnover indices that ELSTAT publishes to see how big a chunk of those sub-sectors are in expansion. A sub-sector was deemed to be in expansion if it experienced year-over-year (YoY) turnover growth.

This whole thing took a bit of data crunching to come into fruition as some of the turnover indices that ELSTAT publishes are in monthly format while others are in quarterly format so some adjustments had to be made. Unfortunately not all sectoral indices could be used after all due to spotty data. Luckily, the ones dropped account only for a small part of total gross value added and employment. On the other hand, it has to be said that the sectors for which ELSTAT publishes such indices account for 47% of total gross value added and 53% of total employment. But still one has to make do with what he/she has. 

The sectors included in the following calculations are Industry, Retail Trade, Wholesale Trade, Tourism and Professional, scientific and technical activities; administrative and support service activities. One's got to admit that the aforementioned list seems much more satisfying and full than what the chunk of total value added and employment its components account for would imply at first sight.

It's finally time to take a peek at what the breadth of the recovery for the dataset components with the most sub-sectors looks like. Here's the chart for industry.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

One can see that while the 4-quarter MA of the number of Industry's sub-sectors in expansion has not exactly matched the heights reached during the 00s expansion, it is not lagging far behind.  One worrying aspect is that the number of sectors in expansion has not surpassed 2016's highs.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

Moving on to Retail Trade, we can see that the 4-quarter MA of the number of sub-sectors in expansion significantly lags the levels seen during the 00s' expansion, something that is consistent with the fact that households' final consumption expenditure has decreased for the past 3 quarters under the weight of over-taxation (among others). The lofty primary surpluses that the country is supposed to achieve for the next many years as well as the current mix of measures picked, certainly do not fill someone with confidence as far as private consumption's chances to be the driver of the recovery for the foreseeable future.  

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

The picture is more or less the same as far as Services are concerned, the only difference being that the number of sub-sectors in expansion is not only lagging behind the heights reached in the 00s but also cannot seem to be able to completely recover from the tumble that the disastrous first half of 2015 brought on. What one has to factor in here is that these particular service activities are rather heavily taxed at the moment. 

If we put all those sub-sectors together and we calculate what percentage of them is in YoY expansion we get the following chart.

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

The 4-quarter MA of the percentage of sectors in expansion is currently ~24% lower than the highs of the 00s' expansion and ~15% lower than the 2001 - 2007 period average. The good thing is that after consolidating during 2015 - 2017 the MA of the number of sectors in expansion seems to be growing again. Let's hope that this keeps. 

To wrap this up, the current Greek recovery certainly feels more lackluster at the moment than what a "normal" recovery would. This could be due to the fact that it is still in its early stages but at least part of the blame has to be put on the overly restrictive current fiscal policy stance (while I'm anything but against fiscal discipline, I think that this is way over the top) as well as the severely sub-optimal mix of fiscal measures chosen. Finally, while the supposition that the current recovery is still at its early stages leaves some room for optimism, the fact that monetary policy worldwide is gradually becoming less expansionary as well as the potentially growth-harming policies being enacted worldwide, certainly curtail part of that optimism.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Looking back: the catalysts of Greece's trade balance adjustment

It certainly is no secret that Greece has experienced a massive trade balance (or goods & services balance if you prefer) reversal since 2008-2009. Now that the said adjustment appears to be going through a phase of consolidation it is interesting to see what the catalysts of the move were thus far.

source: Bank of Greece, own calculations

The basis of our calculations will be the absolute change in Goods & Services Balance components  between February 2018 (latest data available) and September 2008 (the month that the highest deficit was posted). We will use the 12-months moving sum of those components in order to smooth out monthly fluctuations and discern trends more clearly.

During the aforementioned period Greece's good & services balance deficit contracted by 28,55 billion EUR. Goods imports decreased by 21,49 bln EUR, so we got the biggest contributor right here, while at the same time, services exports fell by 7,28 bln. Moving on to the other side of the ledger, goods exports grew by 5,94 bln while services exports decreased by 6,17 bln EUR.

source: Bank of Greece, own calculations

If we add up the contributions of total exports and imports we can see that exports made a -223 mln EUR contribution while imports accounted for the whole of the adjustment. It is interesting to drill down a bit more and see how different categories of exports did, which sectors were salvaged and which ones are mostly to blame for this dismal headline figure performance.

The thing with goods exports is the dispersion of readings that different data sources provide. If one used ELSTAT's figures for merchandise exports he would arrive at the conclusion that they increased by 8,12 bln EUR in the period examined. If Eurostat's SITC figures were used, the same figure would stand at 8,036 bln while, as mentioned above, Bank of Greece's data pegs that same number at 5,94 bln. And exports potentially increasing by ~2 bln more in the period we are looking at makes a big difference.

source: Bank of Greece, ELSTAT, Eurostat, own calculations

Anyway, we'll use SITC data to see how each different sectors' merchandise exports performed because it's the only one out of the three sources that provides sectoral data.

source: Eurostat, own calculations

Oil Products make up for 57% of goods exports' increase, while Food Products are in second place with 16,2% of total and Chemicals in 3rd with 7,8%. The top spots for biggest contributors to Greece's merchandise exports growth are taken up by sectors with a low technological content (with the exception of Chemicals). No surprise there, sadly.

Moving on to services, whose dismal performance must have come as a surprise to most people as Greece abroad is mostly associated with Shipping and Tourism. Well, it is exactly due to Transportation Services' exports plummeting by 10,34 bln during the said period that services' exports contribution was negative since Travel Services and Other Services were up by 2,94 bln and 1,22 bln respectively.

source: Bank of Greece, own calculations

It is worth noting that transportation services' dreadful performance can be traced to two different reasons. The first is the fact that the sector never recovered from 2009's Great Financial Crisis and the second one is the imposition of Capital Controls in Greece in the end of the first half of 2015 which resulted in a 46,3% drop (if one compares the month before the CCs imposition with the post-CCs trough).

source: Bank of Greece,own calculations

To wrap this up, the monstrous goods & services balance adjustment that Greece experienced these past 10 years was effected through a contraction of imports. Contrary to what most people would expect, goods exports did better than those of services (due to the dismal performance of shipping). The Greek economy's structure did not assist in making the adjustment more balanced and  easing the pain. Hopefully, the country's current plight has driven home the message that the country needs to move beyond relying solely on consumption to stoke growth and that attention must be paid to the supply side too. Of course, for the economy's fundamentals to change, copious amounts of fixed investment are needed and well, this is an area that things are currently "a bit" slow over here...

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The forgotten ones: Greece's ultra long-term unemployed

Unemployment in Greece has been decreasing these past 4 years but I'm afraid that this only means it went down from ridiculously high levels to what can be charitably characterized as pretty damn high levels. Still, it is a start (hopefully) and it is definitely better than nothing. 

source: ELSTAT, own calculations

It is interesting to drill down a bit deeper than headline figures and take a look at long-term unemployment and contrast its behaviour with that of short(er)-term one.

First of all, it should be noted that in Greece, the long-term unemployed (defined as those people that are unemployed for more than 12 months) account for a much higher share of total unemployment, than they do in the Euro Area as a whole. What's more, the spread between the two figures has grown during the current depression, while at the same time long-term unemployment's share even seems to be increasing in Greece.

source: Eurostat, own calculations

Eurostat publishes a detailed breakdown of unemployment figures according to the length of the unemployment spell. If we re-base those separate series to each one's respective peak we can assess a couple of different things. First, if shorter-term unemployment peaked earlier than longer-term quintiles and second, if unemployment duration is correlated to how fast each series decreased after it reached its peak.

Here's the relevant chart. I apologize for it being a bit bungled up but I guess that in order to make visual comparisons "possible", it couldn't be any different.

source: Eurostat, own calculations

The answer to both questions posed above is more or less positive. Short-term unemployment (less that 12 months) did indeed peak first and decreased faster after that. At the same time, ultra long-term unemployment (more than 48 months) peaked last with 2017 being the first year during which it has posted a hesitant decrease. Interim long-term unemployment cohorts broadly follow along these lines (12-17 months unemployment peaked and started decreasing faster than 18-23 and 24-47 but on the other hand, 24-47 unemployment decreased faster than 18-23).

If one wants an alternative representation of unemployment in Greece based on how different duration cohorts evolved here it is.

source: Eurostat

The chart makes more than obvious how ultra long-term unemployment (> 48 months) is not really budging.

It would be interesting to try and compile the profile of the people that find themselves locked into that seriously detrimental state that is ultra long-term unemployment.

While international and local media make a lot of noise about youth unemployment, the elephant in the room, as far as long-term unemployment is concerned, is old-age unemployment. People over 45 years old account for about 40% of the long-term unemployed with their ranks having swelled considerably after the depression broke out. To be precise though, the trend towards older-age unemployment accounting for a bigger chunk of long-term unemployment has been there for quite some time and is more structural in nature.

source: ELSTAT

The sectors from which the long-term unemployed come from are all over the spectrum. This makes sense since, especially before the crisis, virtually all sectors of Greece's economy were mostly inward-oriented meaning that the sudden-stop and ensuing collapse in domestic demand hit all of them.

source: ELSTAT

On top of the rank one finds "persons that cannot be classified" which probably stands for people that either refused to answer the relevant question or for younger people that have yet to hold their first job.

To wrap this up, while everyone is going on about youth unemployment a thought should be spared for the older-age unemployed too. These people face considerable challenges, namely skill-sets that have become obsolete, social exclusion, a lower probability of having family to support them through this etc. Also, the most-efficient re-allocation mechanism (i.e. the market) has chucked them out and they mostly have to depend on active labour market policies (ALMPs) and the Greek state's limited financial means to fund these. Fingers crossed for all the people that find themselves in that psychologically (and potentially physically) scarring situation and let's hope that an investment boom (now how improbable does that sound?!) will lift all boats and get them back into the fold.