Uncertainty on credit growth

The Bank of Greece is pushing for current restrictions on consumer and personal loans to be lifted soon, but analysts say the move is not expected to galvanize corporate and household borrowing where growth has been easing slightly in the last three years. Nicholas Garganas, governor of the Bank of Greece, intends to abolish credit caps shortly but he has not set a date yet, the head of the Hellenic Banks’ Association told Kathimerini English Edition. Christos Gortsos, who together with the heads of the country’s major banks discussed the issue with Garganas over a working lunch yesterday, said it was possible that credit restrictions could be lifted shortly. «Credit caps could be abolished by July 1,» he said. The final decision rests with the central bank. Teiresias, the credit bureau, is expected to be launched on July 1, Gortsos said. Privacy requirements, however, mean it will not include historical data on borrowers but only statistics on new borrowers and only then with their consent, he said. Sofia Skourtis, banking analyst at Marfin Hellenic Securities, is doubtful whether abolishing credit caps will boost demand for consumer and personal loans, which had showed robust growth until recently. Consumer credit grew 26 percent in March, unchanged from the previous month, Bank of Greece statistics showed. «There could be an increase in consumer credit expansion in the third quarter but it won’t be dramatic,» said Skourtis. More prudent lending by banks, a dramatic jump in house repair loans in the past and the gradual slowdown in credit expansion are expected to put a brake on growth, she said. «We could see a significant deceleration percentage-wise,» she said.

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