ECONOMY

Tangible signs of rebound make Samaras more upbeat

The first tangible signs of economic improvement are starting to emerge, with an increase in hirings, an improvement in the business climate and a general sense abroad that a Greek rebound could be on the way, allowing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to express optimism that 2013 will be the last year of recession.

The new “Ergani” labor market monitoring system, which monitors staff hirings and sackings on a daily basis, found that in March there were almost 9,000 more hirings than firings. The fact that the majority of the hirings were in the sectors of food catering and tourism points to a seasonal effect in anticipation of an increase in the number of tourists this summer. Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis described it on Thursday as a “pleasant fact” and expressed hope that the trend would continue.

The Economic Sentiment Index of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) continued its rise – which had started in January – climbing in March to 88.1 points, a level unseen since October 2009 and the election of George Papandreou to the premiership.

“Greece has shown progress, but we are yet to see the end of the tunnel,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Thursday in Strasbourg, while Morgan Stanley said in a report that from now on it is more optimistic than worried about Greece. The investment bank stated that while the rebound of the Greek economy has not yet started, there is an improvement in certain indices.

Addressing an event on Thursday on the allocation of subsidies in the context of the next European Union-funded program for 2014-20, Samaras said the country is breaking the vicious cycle of recession and entering a virtuous cycle of growth. He claimed that the rebound has started and that that will become evident in the next quarter, with the market getting to feel the improvement by the end of the year.

“The funds adding up to 36 billion euros until 2020 are the best answer to the anti-European voices within the country that Europe is our home,” Samaras stressed.