The Greek Exodus In One Chart

July 6, 2015

On Sunday, Greeks will participate in a referendum that could seal their fate. The people of Greece are between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, a “yes” vote will mean that they give into the extreme demands of their creditors, fostering an even harsher era of austerity for a Greek economy that has already slipped 25% in GDP since 2007. This will result in additional economic contraction, a likely resignation by Alexis Tsipras, and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis possibly cutting off his arm.

The “no” vote, which is being urged by the Syriza government, would mean the European Central Bank would be cutting off assistance to Greek banks and a possible Grexit. For a country that is reported to have only €500 million in bank deposits left, things are no less ugly here.

There is a blame game perpetuating itself through the media. Some people say the Greeks had it coming by taking advantage of easy credit, spending money frivolously (for example: 16.2% of GDP spending is on pensions, the highest in the euro zone), and then electing Syriza, an extremist government. The opposing side says that the intense standoff is the fault of the so-called troika, made up of the IMF, ECB, and Eurogroup. Recently, it’s becoming clear that even the troika acknowledges that Greece needs further debt relief, yet this was never offered up in negotiations. The IMF has now flat out said that the proposed additional austerity measures would leave Greece still with unsustainable debt.

While both sides are likely warranted some blame, what is clear is that the Greek people have seen the writing on the wall for some time. Today’s chart shows the Greek exodus, as capital and people flee the sinking Greek economic ship in unprecedented numbers.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, more Greeks have left the country each year with the trend accelerating in recent years. The country has a population of about 11 million, but the population has decreased annually by nearly 100,000 people in both 2013 and 2014. Based on how things are going this year, this trend is unlikely to change.

Further, capital is also fleeing the banks in what started as a “jog” but is now a “run”. In Q1 of 2015, there were over €20 billion of outflows from Greek bank deposits. June’s data is not available yet, but it is likely the recent quarter will far surpass this amount as it is now reported that there is only €500 million in bank deposits left. This would explain why capital controls are in place, banks are closed, and people are limited to €60 withdrawals.


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