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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Greek assets have been on fire this year, and more particularly in the past two weeks as investors position for a more business-friendly government to take the reins from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Why it matters: After years of being viewed as a market pariah — thrice bailed out by its eurozone creditors, limping from one austerity budget to the next — Greece last year began its road to economic recovery, with "positive developments" noted by an IMF monitor. (Though it is still the fund's 3rd largest borrower after Argentina and Ukraine.)

Driving the news: Tsipras' far-left Syriza party suffered massive defeats in European Parliament elections on May 26, and the government called for snap elections by June 30.

  • Greece's benchmark stock exchange has surged 38% year-to-date and an MSCI collection of its largest companies has gained 28%, outpacing every major stock index in the world, data from FactSet shows.
  • Much of that has come in the weeks since the May 26 ballot.

The big picture: Bonds globally have performed well, but Greece has seen particularly rousing returns. Yields on 10-year notes fell to record lows after the election results and have continued to drop. (Yields fall as prices rise.)

  • The yield spread between 10-year Greek government debt and its German equivalent has fallen to just 300 basis points, even with German yields at all-time lows well below 0%.
  • Greece's 5-year government bond yields earlier this month were lower than comparable Italian bonds for the first time since 2008.

"The decline since the start of the year is remarkable, with Datastream data showing that the yield dipped below 2% for the first time since the series started in 1997," analysts at Fathom Consulting note.

  • It's all the more impressive given that Greece issued a 10-year bond with a yield of around 3.9% in March.
  • GDP has returned to growth, rising an estimated 2.1% in 2018 with an IMF forecast of 2.4% in 2019 after years of declines.

Yes, but: Greece's economic numbers have not been spectacular all around. Its current account deficit rose significantly in March and its unemployment rate remains an elevated 18% — well below the 28.4% record high reported in February 2014, but still almost double 2009 levels of 9.7%.

Go deeper: Europe moves on from financial crisis, but Greece is still recovering

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.