Credit sector shrinks by half in seven years

Credit sector shrinks by half in seven years

The unprecedented crisis that has been squeezing the country since 2009 has seen domestic banks shrink to half the size they were seven years ago.

According to data compiled by Kathimerini, some 50,000 jobs have been lost in the sector since 2008, of which 25,000 are in Greece and 25,000 abroad. The total number of branches has been reduced by 3,500 to 4,200 from 7,715 at the end of 2008.

Local lenders have also halted operations at 1,700 branches in Greece as well as 2,175 cash machines. The number of branches in Greece has dropped by 42.3 percent, employees by 36 percent and ATMs by 28.7 percent. There are 49.3 percent fewer branches abroad and 51.7 percent fewer employees.

The storm within the banking system and the domestic economy is best reflected in the level of deposits and loans: The total deposits of 240 billion euros six years ago have now been cut in half to 120 billion. The sum of outstanding loans may be 35 percent less than in 2009 in theory, at 204 billion euros, but in reality the reduction is far greater, as 100 billion of that 204 billion euros is not being serviced. Therefore the real picture of the banking system shows deposits of 120 billion and serviced loans of less than 110 billion, meaning that the credit sector has halved since end-2008.

Bank officials say that contraction was inevitable given the 25 percent decline of gross domestic product from 2009 to 2015, with forecasts pointing to a greater recession in 2016.

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