Greece raised 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) Tuesday in its third bond issue of the year, managing to wrap up most of its annual borrowing needs before the end of the first half.
The oversubscribed benchmark 10-year issue carried a rate of 1.57%. The government said the successful outcome amid the Covid-19 crisis was a "vote of confidence" from international markets — which during Greece's financial crisis just a few years ago, wouldn't have touched Greek debt issues with a barge pole.
"For the second time since the pandemic broke out, despite the tough economic circumstances, our country has successfully tapped markets," Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said.
Greece exited its eight-year international bailouts nearly two years ago. It had to resort to rescue loans — issued on condition of painful spending cuts, tax hikes and income reductions — in May 2010 after losing access to international bond markets.
With its finances righted and balanced budgets, the country is now in a position to borrow from financial markets, partly because investors are attracted to its issues that offer relatively good returns at a time of low global interest rates. Investors are also encouraged by massive European stimulus packages that seek to address the impact of the global coronavirus crisis.
The government plans to raise about 8 billion euros in total from bond issues this year; including Tuesday's issue, it has already collected 7.5 billion.
Nevertheless, Greece's credit rating remains several notches below investment grade.
The country is forecast to see a deep recession this year due to the pandemic, which is expected to bite deep into key tourism revenues. According to the latest European Commission predictions, the slump could reach 9.7% this year — the worst in the European Union — followed by an equally unrivaled 7.9% rebound next year.
Greece's central bank says it expects the economy to shrink about 6% in 2020 before rebounding about 5.5% in 2021.
Greece raised 2.5 billion euros in a 15-year bond issue in January, and another 2 billion from a 7-year bond in May.