The global economy is absolutely massive. Trillions and trillions of dollars are spent and earned by millions of different companies and individuals in thousands of different industries. Sure, we all know just how big the retail, food, oil and pharmaceutical industries are and how important they are.
However, what about the thousands of other different industries? These other industries are responsible for a ton of jobs and while they pale in comparison to the industries in the last paragraph, they are still bigger than you ever could have imagined! With that in mind, this article will look at a few industries that, while small, are likely way bigger than you ever thought possible.
The Hard Cider Industry
The alcohol industry is one of the largest on the planet, but there is a certain subset of the industry that is likely much bigger than you thought. Over the last few years, the hard cider industry has transformed from nothing but a gimmick, to something massive, with many different players.
The U.S market for hard cider sits at well over $400 million, and the overall global market is quite a bit bigger. However, it isn’t the size of the market that is so impressive, but the growth. The market has had an annual growth of over 30% over the last five years and look for it to continue as more and more people become interested in transitioning to ciders as their drink of choice.
The Cigar Industry
While the cigarette industry gets most of the attention for its size and the simple fact that hundreds of millions of people smoke every single day, the cigar industry is no slouch. While people don’t often smoke cigars in the same fashion they smoke cigarettes, the markets aren’t all that far off.
In fact, experts believe that that the overall global market for cigars could reach over $13 Billion by 2025, which is far more than most people might have imagined. Also, whereas all cigarettes are more or less the same in terms of flavor, cigars offer a wide range of different flavors, including this cigar here.
The Cryptocurrency Industry
If you think of 2017, it was largely the year of the cryptocurrency. Currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum became household names and attracted millions of investors from all over the planet. Overall, the cryptocurrency market sits at nearly $500 Billion, and hit over $800 Billion in early 2018.
This is already incredibly impressive, but you need to understand the growth to understand the sheer magnitude of those numbers. At the start of 2017, the market was under $20 billion, which means it experienced a boom unlike anything we have seen in a very long time. As blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies continue to evolve and mature, don’t be shocked to see them only grow in popularity over the coming years.
The Pet Insurance Industry
This is one that hardly anyone thinks about, but once you do, you begin to understand it. We love our pets and most people are willing to spend whatever it costs to keep their animals healthy. So instead of paying everything out of pocket, it makes sense to purchase pet insurance.
Just as humans begin to live longer due to better diets and better healthcare, the same goes for our pets. Those are all just some of the many reasons why the pet insurance industry is likely bigger than you ever thought possible. The industry in the United States is currently valued at nearly a billion dollars and with nearly 13% annual growth over the last five years, it seems like it’s going to continue getting bigger.
According to a recent IMF report, the global economy has weakened further and warned it was “highly vulnerable to adverse shocks”.
The International Monetary Fund said the weakening had come “amid increasing financial turbulence and falling asset prices”.
The report comes before the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Shanghai later this week.
It said China’s slowdown was adding to global economic growth concerns.
China’s economy, the second-biggest in the world, is growing at the slowest rate in 25 years.
“Growth in advanced economies is modest already under the baseline, as low demand in some countries and a broad-based weakening of potential growth continue to hold back the recovery,” the IMF said.
“Adding to these headwinds are concerns about the global impact of China’s transition to more balanced growth, along with signs of distress in other large emerging markets, including from falling commodity prices.”
The IMF also noted any future prospects for global growth “could be derailed by market turbulence, the oil price crash and geopolitical conflicts”.
The agency has called on the G20 group to plan new mechanisms to protect the most vulnerable countries.
Earlier this year, the IMF downgraded its forecast for global economic growth. It now expects economic activity to increase 3.4% this year followed by 3.6% in 2017.
The Federal Reserve has decided to hold interest rates unchanged, keeping them at the same level since December 2008.
The central bank said nine members of its Federal Open Market Committee voted to hold the key federal funds rate target at 0 to 0.25%.
Committee member Jeffrey Lacker was the only dissenter, favoring a 0.25 percentage point rise.
The Fed hinted that concerns about the strength of the global economy influenced the decision.
“Recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and are likely to put further downward pressure on inflation in the near term,” the committee said in a statement.
Signs of weaker growth and stock market turmoil in China have led to fear among investors about US economic growth.
The Federal Reserve’s long-term policy is to keep interest rates low until employment levels improve further and the main US inflation rate approaches its 2% target. Inflation is currently at about 1.2% in the US, kept down by cheaper oil and a strong dollar.
The Fed said in its statement that it still wants to see more improvement in the labor market, even though recent data showed the unemployment rate for August was at 5.1%, the lowest since 2008.
It also wants to be “reasonably confident” that inflation will increase.
“The committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run,” it said.
Following the Fed’s announcement, US stocks rose and the dollar fell.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.28%, to 16,786.58, the S&P 500 rose 0.45%, to 2,004.26 and the NASDAQ gained 0.61%, to 4,918.90.
The dollar index, which compares the value of the currency with six other currencies, fell 0.81%, to 94.651.
Oil prices and stock markets around the world have seen further falls, sparked by the renewed fears over the health of the global economy.
China shares fell 1.5% after the authorities intervened again on the stock market to little effect.
Expectations of a US interest rate rise dimmed after the Federal Reserve said the economy was not ready yet.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones index opened 1% lower, while markets in Paris and Frankfurt fell more than 2%.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index shed 0.56%, while the price of Brent crude oil was down 0.4% at $46.97 a barrel, although US crude recovered from earlier falls to stand 0.6% higher at $41.35.
On August 19, the Fed released minutes from its meeting on July 28-29, showing that one policymaker was ready to vote for an interest rate rise at the meeting.
Overall, the Fed thought conditions for a US rate rise “were approaching”, but the economy was not ready yet.
Other policymakers remained concerned that inflation would remain weak because of the strong dollar and falling commodity prices, which act as a double depressant on imports.
The Fed’s key interest rate has been kept near zero since December 2008.
There has been speculation that the Fed will raise rates at its meeting in September, and last month Fed chair Janet Yellen said she thought a rate rise this year was likely.
Following the release of the Fed’s minutes, US stocks rallied briefly but then fell back, while the dollar weakened on the currency markets. The Dow Jones index ended August 19 trading down 0.9%.
The committee also cited China as a potential problem, saying that a “material slowdown” in the Chinese economy could affect the US economic outlook.
The FOMC’s meeting came before last week’s action by China to weaken its currency.
After days of volatility, Chinese stock market traded lower once again on August 20, despite Beijing’s efforts to calm markets.
China’s Shanghai Composite closed 1.5% down at 3,735.92 points.
The fall comes after the index saw strong volatility earlier in the week.
Traders appeared not to respond to efforts by the central bank to provide more liquidity to stabilize markets.
In assessing the strength of the US economy, the Fed has been keeping an eye on the US jobs market – where the unemployment rate has been falling and is now 5.3%. However, inflation is still below the Fed’s target of 2%.
The minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) July meeting noted that the labor market “had continued to improve, with solid job gains and declining unemployment”.
However, when assessing inflation, it said that “some members continued to see downside risks to inflation from the possibility of further dollar appreciation and declines in commodity prices”.
The FOMC said it would continue to monitor inflation “closely, with almost all members indicating that they would need to see more evidence that economic growth was sufficiently strong and labor market conditions had firmed enough for them to feel reasonably confident that inflation would return to the committee’s longer-run objective over the medium term”.
Inflation figures released earlier on August 20 showed that consumer prices rose by 0.1% in July, and were 0.2% higher from a year ago.
So-called core inflation, which ignores changes in food and energy prices, also rose 0.1% last month, but was up 1.8% over the year.
The US economy grew at an annualized pace of 1.7% in the second quarter of 2013, the Commerce Department has said.
That was a faster pace than expected by economists.
It was also up from the growth rate for the first three months of 2013, which was revised lower to 1.1% from 1.8%.
A slowdown was widely expected due to the impact of federal spending cuts, but also from the continuing weakness in the global economy.
In March, $85 billion of public spending was cut as a result of a deal between Democrat and Republican politicians.
But the Commerce Department said that the federal government cut spending by only 1.5% in the April-to-June period, compared with a sharp drop of 8.4% in the first quarter.
The US economy grew by 0.4% in the second quarter compared with the previous three months. That compares to 0.6% growth in the UK in the same period.
The US economy grew at an annualized pace of 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013
The eurozone’s GDP figures are released on August 14. The 18-member region shrank 0.2% in the first quarter – the sixth quarter of decline in a row.
“We have an upside surprise in the GDP, which speaks volumes for the job recovery that we’re putting together,” said Andre Bakhos, a market analyst at Lek Securities in New York.
“The recovery in the economy is starting to take root. This will be an interesting development given the fact that we’ll have a Fed announcement today.”
The Federal Reserve meets on Wednesday to make its latest statement on its massive bond-buying programme to stimulate the economy.
Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of US GDP. Official figures showed that consumers spent less in the second quarter than in the first, with personal consumption expenditure up 1.8%, compared with 2.3% previously.
As well as the last set of quarterly figures, the Commerce Department also revised growth figures going back several decades.
It said the US economy now grew by 2.8% in 2012, up from its previous estimate of 2.2%. This may help to explain why growth appeared weak last year but hiring continued to improve.
The government also said that the economy contracted by 4.3% during the recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, better than the previous estimate of a 4.7% drop.
The economy expanded by 8.2% from the middle of 2009 through to the end of last year, which was more than the 7.6% previously suggested.
The latest figures showed a pickup in both imports and exports. Exports rose 5.4% in the second quarter, compared with a drop of 1.3% in the first quarter. Imports jumped 9.5%, compared with an increase of 0.6% in the previous quarter.
China’s economic growth slowed in Q2 2013, the second straight quarter of weaker expansion.
The world’s second biggest economy grew by 7.5% in the April to June period compared to the previous year, down from 7.7% in the January to March period, data showed.
The figures were in line with analyst expectations.
After decades of blistering growth in China, analysts say authorities now seem ready to accept a slower pace of expansion.
The figures showed that weak trade data and actions by authorities to reign in bank lending contributed to the slower growth.
“As of now, China’s gross domestic product has been staying under 8% for five straight quarters, a clear sign of distress,” said economist Ren Xianfang from IHS Global Insight.
“The rather sharp growth deceleration and the recent financial market turmoil indicate that risks have been building on both the financial and real goods sector,” she added.
The government has set a target of 7.5% growth for the whole of 2013, which would mark the lowest rate of expansion in more than two decades.
China’s economic growth slowed in Q2 2013, the second straight quarter of weaker expansion
China has been a major driver of the global economy and many countries have gained because of the demand from Chinese companies, including the mining sector in Australia.
However, analysts questioned whether the 7.5% target would be achieved without some stimulus measures from the government.
“We will see some targeted measures to stimulate growth,” said Credit Agricole CIB economist Dariusz Kowalczyk.
“They have to do something. Otherwise they will miss their target. And they cannot afford that, because this is their first year in power.”
A spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics said: “Major indicators are within our targeted range but we face a complex situation.”
China’s leaders have repeatedly said that the long-term goal is to rebalance the economy away from an over-reliance on exports and investment, and spur consumer spending instead.
“Some measures, including the intensified property tightening campaign, new rules to curb misuse of public funds and the exit some previous stimulus policies, will inevitably have some impact on growth in the short term, but they will benefit our economy in the long run,” said Sheng Laiyun from the bureau of statistics at a press conference.
In 2012 China expanded at a rate of 7.8%, its worst annual performance in 13 years.
According to recent figures, the US consumer spending fell in April, for the first time in nearly a year.
The Department of Commerce said consumer spending fell 0.2% in April.
Analysts had expected a rise of 0.1%, which was the change seen in March. Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of US economic activity.
Spending was held back by weaker demand for utilities and less money being spent on petrol, following a fall in the price of fuel. Tax increases may also have hit spending.
An increase in social security payments has reduced the take-home pay of workers. A person earning $50,000 a year has about $1,000 less to spend a year because of the increase in the social security taxes. A household with two highly paid workers has up to $4,500 less.
Also, because petrol prices declined sharply in March and April, the amount of money consumers were spending at fuel stations fell.
Figures showed that household income was unchanged last month, after a 0.3% rise in March and 1.2% gain in February.
The US economy has also been hit by government spending cuts, which took effect at the beginning of March.
The US consumer spending fell 0.2 percent in April 2013
Figures released on Thursday showed that the US economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.4% in the first three months of the year, down slightly from the original estimate of 2.5%.
The rate of growth is expected to slow in the current quarter, because of the impact of federal spending cuts and continuing weakness in the global economy.
However, there could be some relief later in the year.
House prices have risen 11% over the past 12 months, which could spur spending. Some economists contend that for every dollar rise in the value of house prices, consumer spending can rise by as much as 10 cents.
In addition, the slow, but steady, improvement in the employment figures in the US could also provide support to consumer spending. Figures due out next week are expected to show that 165,000 jobs were created in May.
The OECD has revised its growth forecasts for the eurozone and called on the European Central Bank to consider doing more to boost growth.
The organization says the eurozone will shrink by 0.6% this year, widening the gap between it and faster-growing economies such as the US and Japan.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has given France two more years to complete its austerity programme.
France fell back into recession in the first three months of the year.
Spain, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands and Slovenia have also been given more time to complete fiscal tightening.
The move suggests a shift away from a focus on austerity in Europe.
In its twice-yearly Economic Outlook, the OECD said prolonged economic weakness in Europe could damage the global economy.
The OECD, which represents 34 advanced economies, forecast average growth across its members of 1.2% this year and 2.3% in 2014.
It painted a troubled picture of the eurozone economy. The forecast of a 0.6% contraction in GDP is down markedly from the 0.1% contraction forecast just six months ago.
It said eurozone unemployment would continue to rise from its current rate of 12%, stabilizing in 2014.
The OECD has revised its growth forecasts for the eurozone and called on the European Central Bank to consider doing more to boost growth
It blamed continuing austerity measures, weak confidence and tight credit conditions. It hinted that the European Central Bank (ECB) might want to expand quantitative easing (QE) as a measure to encourage stronger growth.
It warned the continuing weakness in Europe “could evolve into stagnation, with negative implications for the global economy”.
The US and Japan have seen a greater focus on stimulus measures compared with Europe, where austerity measures have taken precedence.
Japan is forecast to grow relatively strongly this year, adding 1.6% to its GDP on the back of extraordinary economic stimulus measures introduced by the government this year.
But the OECD said there was considerable uncertainty over whether that recovery would continue into 2014, when the government is expected to cut spending.
In the US, where growth of nearly 2% is forecast for this year, the OECD said quantitative easing measures might need to be “gradually reduced”.
China is not included in the OECD club, but the organization expects its annual growth to be about 8% over the next two years.
The OECD’s chief economist, Pier Paolo Padoan, told Reuters that the eurozone remained the dominant area of concern.
“Europe is in a dire situation,” he told the news agency.
“We think that the eurozone could consider more aggressive options. We could call it a eurozone-style QE.”
IMF has cuts its economic growth forecast for China, with weakness in the global economy set to hit exports.
The International Monetary Fund it now expected the world’s second largest economy to grow by “around 7.75%” this year, and at about the same pace in 2014.
That is lower than the 8% forecast for 2013 the IMF made in its World Economic Outlook, published last month.
The IMF also called for a “decisive impetus to reforms” in the country.
Last year, China’s economy grew by 7.8%, its slowest rate for 13 years. In the first three months of this year, it expanded at a lower-than-expected annual pace of 7.7%.
Last week, the release of disappointing Chinese manufacturing figures was one of the factors behind a global sell-off in shares. A survey indicated that factory activity had contracted for the first time in seven months in May.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing, IMF first deputy managing director David Lipton said: “The Chinese economy is expected to grow at around 7.75% this year and at about the same pace next year.
“Chinese export growth has been, after years and years of very rapid growth, very slow because of the state of the global economy and we now are taking our projections of the global economy into effect.”
IMF has cuts its economic growth forecast for China, with weakness in the global economy set to hit exports
Among the measures called for by the IMF are slower growth in social financing and a relaxation of controls on interest rates and the exchange rate.
Despite the cut in the IMF’s forecast, David Lipton noted: “Let’s not lose sight of the fact that China is still growing at a very fast rate.
“We’re projecting that growth will remain robust.”
David Lipton added that growth “should pick up moderately in the course of the second half of this year, as the recent credit expansion gains traction and in line with a mild pick-up in the global economy”.
President Barack Obama will make a statement on the economy later, setting the stage for a political showdown over a looming budget crisis.
Barack Obama is expected to discuss the so-called fiscal cliff, a package of tax rises and spending cuts due early next year unless Congress acts.
Budget analysts warn the US will tip into recession unless a deal is struck.
Barack Obama has repeatedly called for the wealthy to pay more taxes, but such a plan is anathema to Republicans.
The fiscal cliff would see Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of 2012, combined with automatic, across-the-board reductions to military and domestic spending.
The International Monetary Fund has repeatedly warned that failure by US lawmakers to reach a deal would deepen uncertainty over the global economy.
Investor concerns over the issue have been partly blamed for two straight days of losses on financial markets.
John Boehner, leader of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, told ABC News on Thursday: “Raising tax rates is unacceptable.
“Frankly, it couldn’t even pass the House. I’m not sure it could pass the Senate.”
John Boehner reiterated his opposition to tax rises in a news conference on Friday morning.
He spoke shortly before Barack Obama was due to deliver his statement from the East Room of the White House at 13:05.
Barack Obama is expected to discuss the so-called fiscal cliff, a package of tax rises and spending cuts due early next year unless Congress acts
The president’s statement could set the tone for his second-term working relationship with Republicans, whom he has battled repeatedly over the last four years.
A White House official said the president’s oft-stated call for tax rises on the wealthy has been vindicated by his resounding victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s election.
“One of the messages that was sent by the American people throughout this campaign is … [they] clearly chose the president’s view of making sure that the wealthiest Americans are asked to do a little bit more in the context of reducing our deficit in a balanced way,” senior White House adviser David Plouffe was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.
Barack Obama’s position has been that taxes should rise on earnings above $250,000.
John Boehner says his party is willing to countenance cutting loopholes and special exemptions, but only in exchange for an overhaul of the tax code.
Republican lawmakers also want cuts to federal healthcare programmes such as Medicare, Medicaid and food-stamp assistance for the poor.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report published on Thursday warned that the US economy would fall back into recession if no deal were struck on the fiscal cliff.
The analysis projected that the package of tax rises and spending cuts would cut the ballooning US deficit by $503 billion through to next September, but also shrink the economy by 0.5% and cost millions of jobs.
Meanwhile, as Barack Obama turns his attention to shaping a second term in office his administration is expected to undergo a shake-up in the coming weeks.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are among those expected to leave their posts.
Speculation has been swirling in Washington over possible replacements, with Democratic Senator John Kerry among those tipped as a substitute for Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to find out what went wrong their presidential election campaign.
The party’s officials said they would poll voters extensively in battleground states, as well as holding focus groups and discussions with supporters.
The review would not attempt to alter the party’s ideological base, Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer told the Washington Post.
“This is no different than a patient going to see a doctor,” Sean Spicer said.
What is the fiscal cliff?
• Under a deal reached last year between President Barack Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress, existing stimulus measures – mostly tax cuts – will expire on 1 January 2013
• Cuts to defence, education and other government spending will then automatically come into force – the “fiscal cliff” – unless Congress acts
• The economy does not have the momentum to absorb the shock from going over the fiscal cliff without going into recession
Latin America will grow at a slower pace than 2011, primarily due to weaker growth in Argentina and Brazil, a United Nations report has suggested.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) forecast the whole area would slow to 3.2% in 2012, down from 4.3% last year.
It is also less than the 3.7% that ECLAC predicted in June.
ECLAC blamed the global economy, which has been hit by the eurozone debt crisis and slowing Chinese growth.
The report, the Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean, identified private consumption as “the main driver of regional growth, thanks to the growth in labor markets, increased credit and – in some cases – remittances”.
Brazil and Argentina are forecast to grow less than their neighbors. Argentina’s economy will grow 2% and Brazil will grow 1.6%, ECLAC suggested.
That is less than predicted by Brazil’s finance ministry, which cut its growth forecast for 2012 to 2% this year, down from its previous forecast of 3%.
President Dilma Rousseff recently launched the first in a series of measures that could inject up to $50 billion into the economy over the next five years.
ECLAC said that regional growth this year would be led by Panama – at 9.5% – and Haiti, which is expected to expand by 6% this year.
Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Venezuela are expected to grow by about 5%. Mexico will expand by 4%.
Paraguay will be the only country to shrink, by 2%, it predicted.
ECLAC said the Caribbean sub-region would grow by 1.6%.
Asian markets have risen, following gains on Wall Street, after the US Federal Reserve unveiled its latest stimulus plan.
The US central bank said it would buy $40 billion of mortgage debt a month and kept interest rates at below 0.25%.
It said it would also continue its programme to reduce long-term borrowing costs for firms and households.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 1.8%, South Korea’s Kospi gained 2.6% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 2.5%.
This followed gains of 1.6% rise in the Dow Jones and S&P 500 indexes on Thursday.
Asian markets have risen, following gains on Wall Street, after the US Federal Reserve unveiled its latest stimulus plan
Investors are hoping the measures will revive growth in the US economy, the world’s biggest, and a key market for Asian exports.
“They’re saying that the punch bowl, the fuel for the economy, isn’t going away – it’s going to be here as long as you need it,” said Tony Fratto, managing partner at Hamilton Place Strategies, a policy consulting firm.
There have been growing fears about the global economy with a weak recovery in the US and the ongoing debt crisis in the eurozone.
The slowdown in China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, and one of its biggest drivers of growth after the global financial crisis, has fanned those fears.
Prompted by these concerns, policymakers in these regions have been taking measures to try to spur a fresh wave of growth.
The Federal Reserve’s announcement came days after the European Central Bank (ECB) announced its latest plan.
Last week, the ECB said that it would buy bonds from the bloc’s debt-ridden nations in an attempt to bring down their borrowing costs.
Meanwhile, China has cut its interest rates twice since June to bring down borrowing costs for businesses and consumers. Beijing has also lowered the amount of money that banks need to keep in reserve three times in the past few months to further encourage lending.
This week South Korea has also unveiled two stimulus measures aimed at boosting domestic demand and helping small businesses.
Analysts said the moves had helped reassure investors and markets that policymakers were doing all they could to ensure growth in the global economy.
“You’re witnessing global economic stimulus across the board,” said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial.
“The Fed’s actions are occurring in conjunction with the European Central Bank’s commitments to support the euro and amid talk that China could also deliver a stimulus package.”
The polls have opened this morning in Greece for crucial elections which could determine the country’s future in the eurozone.
The main contenders, the right-wing New Democracy and left-wing Syriza, are at odds over whether broadly to stick with the tough EU bailout deal, or reject it and boost social spending.
Opinion polls are banned for two weeks before voting but unofficial polls say the result is too close to call.
EU leaders say if Greece rejects the bailout, it may have to leave the euro.
The poll, the second in six weeks, was called after a vote on 6 May proved inconclusive.
Sunday’s vote is being watched around the world, amid fears that a Greek exit from the euro could spread contagion to other eurozone members and send turmoil throughout the global economy.
Tough austerity measures were attached to the two international bailouts awarded to Greece, an initial package worth 110 billion Euros ($138 billion) in 2010, then a follow-up last year worth 130 billion Euros.
Many Greeks are unhappy with the conditions attached to deals which have been keeping Greece from bankruptcy and all but one of the parties standing for election have promised some degree of renegotiation of the terms.
The polls have opened this morning in Greece for crucial elections which could determine the country's future in the eurozone
In remarks quoted by the Reuters news agency a few hours before polls opened, the head of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Angel Gurria suggested that the next Greek government should be given a chance to revisit the bailout conditions.
“If that is the condition presented for Greece to stay [in the eurozone] and then move on, I would say it is probably something that should be attempted,” he was quoted as saying.
But Germany, which has the eurozone’s most powerful economy, insists Greece, like other member states which have received international bailouts, must abide by the austerity conditions.
On the eve of the vote, Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “It is extremely important that tomorrow’s Greek elections lead to a result in which those who form the government say, ‘Yes, we want to keep to our commitments.'”
Like Angel Gurria, the German chancellor and several other European leaders will be attending the G20 summit in the Mexican resort of Los Cabos on Monday, which is set to be dominated by the eurozone crisis and the aftermath of the election.
The head of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, told supporters on Friday that he would lead the country out of the financial crisis, while staying in the eurozone.
He broadly accepts Greece’s international bailout, but says he will renegotiate the terms of the agreement to seek a better deal for Greeks.
“We will exit the crisis; we will not exit the euro. We will not let anyone take us out of Europe,” Antonis Samaras said.
The youthful head of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, rejects the bailout, but wants Greece to stay in the eurozone, saying a bailout is possible without the kind of drastic cuts demanded of Greece.
“Brussels expect us, we are coming on Monday to negotiate over people’s rights, to cancel the bailout,” he told a final rally on Thursday.
Greeks were celebrating hours before the polls opened, after their national football team qualified for the quarter finals of Euro 2012 with a surprise 1-0 win over Russia.
“We are proud that we gave the people back home some joy and a break from their problems – even for a short while,” striker Georgios Samaras said.
The Kathimerini website noted that Greeks had few reasons to feel national pride at the moment, but sport had provided them with plenty of it. The victory could lead to a quarter-final tie against Germany.