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Greek Bank Deposits Decline to 191.9 Billion Euros in May

Greek bank deposits fell by the most in more than a year in May as speculation reignited that the government would default on its sovereign debt and the country’s economy contracted.

The balance of deposits held by businesses and households declined to 191.9 billion euros last month from 196.8 billion euros ($285 billion) in April, a 2.5 percent drop, the Athens-based Bank of Greece said in a statement posted on its website today.

The 4.9 billion-euro contraction is the most since April 2010, when they declined by 5.1 billion euros as Prime Minister George Papandreou sought a bailout to save the country from default.

Deposits by homes and businesses have fallen each month this year, declining 17.7 billion euros since December 2010, or 8.4 percent, as the economy shrinks under the weight of austerity measures introduced last year in exchange for a 110 billion-euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. The May figure is the lowest level since November 2007.

Greece secured a fifth payment under that 2010 package on July 2, after it pushed through an additional 78 billion euros of budget cuts and state asset sales against strong domestic resistance.

Lending to households and businesses contracted an annual 1.1 percent in May, compared with a 0.5 percent decline in the previous month, the central bank said in a separate e-mailed statement today.

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