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Greek Stocks, Economy Collapse, Suffer Worst Declines In History

The Athens Stock Exchange reopened on Monday and unsurprisingly, some folks were selling. 

Trading was suspended five weeks ago after PM Alexis Tsipras’ dramatic midnight referendum call precipitated capital controls and a lengthy bank "holiday." Shares opened lower by nearly 23% and the country’s banks traded limit-down, which makes sense because they are, after all, largely insolvent. Here’s NY Times:

The Athens Stock Exchange plunged 22.8 percent when it reopened on Monday after a five-week shutdown imposed by Greek authorities as part of efforts to prevent a financial collapse.

 

Bank stocks, which are particularly vulnerable as Greek lenders are set for new recapitalization in the coming months, took a battering, falling by as much as 30 percent.

 

Although foreign investors face no restrictions in the Athens exchange, local traders can only use existing cash holdings to buy shares; they are prohibited from tapping local bank deposits to buy shares as the authorities seek to prevent capital flight.

Asked about the harrowing decline, European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva had no comment but did say that Brussels has "taken note" of the reopening. Amusingly, she also said the decision was made by "competent" Greek officials. A ban on short-selling was due to expire on Monday but will be extended, an unnamed official told Reuters

Meanwhile, monthly PMI data from Markit confirmed that the Greek economy suffered an outright collapse in July. Last month marked the 11th consecutive month of contraction, but it was the depth of the downturn that was truly shocking as the index plummeted to 30.2 from 46.9 in June. It was the lowest print on record. New orders plunged to 17.9 from 43.2. 

"July saw factory production in Greece contract sharply amid an unprecedented drop in new orders and difficulties in purchasing raw materials," Markit said. Here’s more from the report:

Record contractions were registered for almost all variables monitored by the survey, including output, new orders, employment and stocks. 

 

The drop in output in July was led by the capital goods sector, while there were also sharp contractions in the production of intermediate and consumer goods. The latest decrease in output was the seventh in successive months.

 

July’s sharp decrease in the level of new business at manufacturers surpassed the previous record set in February 2012. Panel members commented on the impact of capital controls on demand, and also cited a generally uncertain operating environment which further weighed on sales. A sharp and accelerated decrease in new export orders (also a series record) added to the overall reduction in new work. 

 

Manufacturers’ buying levels decreased to the greatest extent in the survey’s history in July. Panel member reports indicated that companies commonly faced difficulties sourcing inputs due to capital restrictions and the limited availability of some items. Accordingly, stocks of purchases contracted sharply on the month, as did postproduction inventories. 

 

The troubles goods producers had in obtaining inputs was further highlighted by a marked increase in average supplier delivery times. The degree of deterioration in vendor performance was by far the most pronounced in the series history. Panellists mentioned in particular the difficulty in receiving items from abroad. 

 

July’s survey signalled the steepest drop in factory employment ever recorded during the 16-plus years of data collection. 

Note that the commentary here underscores what we’ve been warning about since the imposition of capital controls; namely that an acute credit crunch would eventually lead to a shortage of imported goods.

The data is also emblematic of the sheer desperation that’s taken hold. "Although manufacturing represents only a small proportion of Greece’s total productive output, the sheer magnitude of the downturn sends a worrying signal for the health of the economy as a whole," Markit’s Phil Smith said.  

Yes it most certainly does, and indeed, as we noted last week, there may be no modern economy left in Greece by the time this is all over as many Greeks have already reverted to the barter system in an effort to grease the wheels of commerce and skirt the frozen banking system.

So in sum, a complete and total disaster on all fronts to start the week. And because this is Greece we're talking about, we'll give the last word here to Socrates:

Via Bloomberg and ForexLive:

Share price falls seen after open are logical given 5-week close Athens Stock Exchange CEO Socrates Lazaridis says in Bloomberg TV interview with Hans Nichols.

 

ASE doesn’t expect at this point in time any companies to express wish to move listing from Greek exchange.

 

Expects some shares to bounce tomorrow.