Athens Digest 02.10.2019

• Draghi: Euro area members should better coordinate policies

• IMF’s Thomsen: Previous government opted for high primary surpluses instead of reforms

• Consumer confidence hits 19-year high

• Greek population continues to shring, says stats office

• Piraeus Bank says youth training initiative has positive impact on society

# Mario Draghi, the outgoing European Central Bank president, urged countries using the euro to seek more closely coordinated policies to head off “foreseeable risks” in the coming years. Speaking at the Academy of Athens, Draghi said governments in the currency union should learn lessons from the financial crisis. “Our monetary union was born incomplete and, within a decade, faced a crisis few could have anticipated. It is understandable that it was not ready,” Draghi said. “But we know now what it takes to provide stabilisation across countries … Policymakers have a responsibility to learn the lessons of the past. The roadmap has been laid out.” Draghi is due to meet Prime Minister Mistotakis before ending his brief trip to Athens today.

# Poul Thomsen, the IMF’s director in Europe, has reportedly told an event organised by the London School of Economics that the fund’s positions were repeatedly misrepresented by the previous Greek government. Thomsen, according to Greek media reports, said that Athens had labeled proposed pension and tax reforms as austerity measures and the previous government opted for high primary surpluses instead of additional structural reforms. He added: “Almost 10 years later, GDP per capita is 22 percent below (the) pre-crisis level. If you take the European Commission’s forecast, it will take until. 2031 for Greece to come back to the pre-crisis level. If you take the IMF forecast, it is 2-3 years longer, another 15 years from now. So we clearly have a lot of explanations to give.”

# Consumer confidence reached a 19-year high in September as post-election optimism gained further momentum. The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, IOBE, reported that the economic sentiment indicator reached 107.2 points from 105.3 in July, boosted by positive expectations in the retail sector to reach its highest level for the index since March 2008. “It is clear that there has been a positive impact of the election result on the expectations of businesses and the public and this has been sustained,” IOBE said. “This effect is a result of the stated policy intentions of the government, given that legislative action has so far been restrained.”

Greece’s population continued to shrink in 2018, with deaths outnumbering births by 33,857, the statistics authority said. The total number of births recorded nationwide was 86,440 while deaths were 120,297 _ a difference that decreased slightly compared to the previous year. The number of marriages fell below the 50,000 mark to 47,428, with 24,418 holding religious ceremonies and 23,010 having civil weddings. Registered partnerships saw an increase of 29.4 percent on the year to 6,369 in 2018. They included 231 partnerships between men and 55 between women.

On our Radar: New Round for Project Future
Piraeus Bank has announced a new training round starting today as part of its specialised youth job education initiative, Project Future. The country’s largest lender said the training sessions will be held in Athens and Thessaloniki. More than 6,500 applications have been submitted in the first year of the programme, and 1,094 young people have been trained in specialist disciplines aimed at meeting market demands, with 60 percent of graduates offered paid employment contracts.“We are proud of the initiative we took a year ago to develop a corporate responsibility programme for young graduates,” Piraeus Bank CEO Christos Megalou said. “Project Future has already made a positive impact on Greek society. The large number of applications submitted in each cycle and the high rate of absorption of programme graduates into the labour market, confirm that we have contributed to bridging the gap between specialist training and the job market.”