ECONOMY

Credit growth edges up in May

Outstanding bank loans to Greek households and companies amounted to a total of 108.8 billion euros at the end of May, in comparison with 106.4 billion in April, according to the latest statistical bulletin of the Bank of Greece, published yesterday. The figures show that the economy is more dependent on debt, with the additional liquidity leading to an acceleration of the rates of growth. The central bank is reportedly concerned that an increasing number of households are on the verge of over-indebtedness. Total private debt now equals 67 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Total Greek household debt amounts to 44.5 billion euros, or 27.5 percent of GDP – still much lower than the European Union average. In spite of this fact, concern is expressed by officials of the Bank of Greece, who warn of the possibility of added financial burdens in the case of interest rate rises, leading to some households not being able to service their debt in the future. It is worth noting that 70 percent of loans carry floating rates, meaning higher monthly payments for debtors in case of interest rate increases. Card credit growth slackens On a year-to-year basis, credit growth rates picked up slightly to 17.7 percent in May in comparison with 17.3 percent in April, with all debt categories expanding except for credit card lending, while industrial companies simply accelerated their rates of approved credit utilization. Corporate debt increased by 10.7 percent on a monthly basis, or 1.3 billion euros, to a total of 64.28 billion euros at the end of May. Personal loans shot up at an annual rate of 61.9 percent but credit card lending growth rates decelerated from 23.5 percent in April to 22.9 percent in May. Analysts note that many heavily indebted credit card owners had obviously taken out personal loans in order to service their previous debt. Mortgages also rose in May, at an annual rate of 25.4 percent compared with 25.1 percent in April, to reach a total balance of 29.08 billion euros. Consumer loans grew by 35.8 percent in May, against 33.4 percent in April, to the tune of 14.17 billion euros. Industrial companies’ rate of debt expansion decelerated to 7.3 percent in May in comparison with 8 percent during the previous month, with the total outstanding debt amounting to 15.95 billion euros. Commercial debt amounted to 17.73 billion euros at the end of May, while businesses in the tourist sector increased their debt by 22.1 percent, against 17.6 percent the previous month, to an outstanding total of 3.76 billion euros. Credit to the shipping sector expanded from 8.3 percent in April to 8.8 percent in May, with the sector owing a total of 4.46 billion euros. The rate of credit expansion to farmers doubled to 7.1 percent in May from 3.5 percent on April to a sum of 3.24 billion euros. Other categories of loans, including those made available for investment in shares or other such assets, grew at an annual rate of 17 percent in May to 16.10 billion euros.