For­eign­ers’ bank de­posits have dropped by 40 bln in eight years

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY THANOS TSIROS & ILIAS BELLOS

Greece is fac­ing a dou­ble wave of de­par­tures by Greeks and also by for­eign na­tional, and the im­pact is al­ready be­ing re­flected in of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics.

Greece’s pop­u­la­tion is still shrink­ing at a rapid rate, while the age pyra­mid is chang­ing con­sid­er­ably. The peo­ple leav­ing the coun­try, whether they are Greek or for­eign na­tion­als, tend to be­long to the most pro­duc­tive age groups and ob­vi­ously take their chil­dren along, de­priv­ing the coun­try of part of the next gen­er­a­tion. On the other hand, el­derly ci­ti­zens are in­creas­ing, not only as a share of the pop­u­la­tion but also in ab­so­lute num­bers.

The dis­tor­tion of the la­bor force, the in­crease in pen­sion spend­ing – in spite of suc­ces­sive cuts passed by Par­lia­ment – and the re­duc­tion in bank de­posits are three of the many ways that the phe­nom­e­non is im­pact­ing the econ­omy.

Bank of Greece fig­ures show that in the pe­riod from 2009 to 2016 the num­ber of non-Euro­pean Union ci­ti­zens who re­side in Greece de- clined by 153,143 peo­ple, re­sult­ing in the re­duc­tion of Greek bank de­posits by at least 40 mil­lion eu­ros: In mid-2008 the de­posits of res­i­dents with a non-EU pass­port had reached up to 23 per­cent of the 205 bil­lion eu­ros de­posited then in the lo­cal credit sys­tem. Now, this rate has plum­meted to just 6 per­cent, as the bank sav­ings of third-coun­try na­tion­als, most of them Al­ba­ni­ans, have shrunk from 47 bil­lion to be­low 7 bil­lion eu­ros.

Hel­lenic Sta­tis­ti­cal Author­ity data also re­veal that the drop in the Greek pop­u­la­tion is not only due to the so-called brain drain – the ex­o­dus of young Greek pro­fes­sion- als seek­ing work abroad – but also to the ag­ing of the pop­u­la­tion, with deaths out­num­ber­ing births since 2011, a fact at­trib­uted di­rectly to the cri­sis.

This is also ex­plained by the flight of im­mi­grants who worked for years in Greece and de­parted at the start of the eco­nomic cri­sis. In fact many of them left just be­fore Greece en­tered the bailout mech­a­nism in 2010, mainly be­cause of the cri­sis in the con­struc­tion sec­tor – where eco­nomic mi­grants were pri­mar­ily em­ployed – that pre­ceded the cri­sis of the fis­cal and cur­rent ac­count deficits at the end of last decade.

Many for­eign work­ers left Greece when the cri­sis erupted in con­struc­tion.

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