Euro zone: Recovery or deflation?

By Céline Antonin, Christophe Blot, Sabine Le Bayon and Danielle Schweisguth

This text summarizes the OFCE’s forecast for 2014-2015 for the euro zone economy

Will the euro zone embark on the road to recovery, or will it sink into a deflationary spiral? The latest macroeconomic indicators are sending out conflicting signals. A return to growth is being confirmed, with three consecutive quarters of rising GDP. However, the level of unemployment in the euro zone remains at a historically high level (11.9% for the month of February 2014), which is fuelling deflationary pressures, as is confirmed by the latest figures on inflation (0.5% yoy for March 2014). While this reduction in inflation is partly due to changes in energy prices, the fact remains that underlying inflation has fallen under 1% (Figure 1). In these conditions, a turnaround in inflationary expectations cannot be excluded, which would undoubtedly push the euro zone into deflation. The ECB has been concerned about this situation for several weeks and says it is ready to act (see here). However, no concrete proposal for a way to ease monetary policy and ensure that expectations are not anchored on a deflationary trajectory has been set out. Continue reading “Euro zone: Recovery or deflation?”

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The euro zone quartered

By Céline AntoninChristophe Blot, Sabine Le Bayon and Danielle Schweisguth

This text summarizes the OFCE’s 2013-2014 forecast for the euro zone economy.

After six quarters of decline, GDP in the euro zone has started to grow again in the second quarter of 2013. This upturn in activity is a positive signal that is also being corroborated by business surveys. It shows that the euro zone is no longer sinking into the depths of depression. It would nevertheless be premature to conclude that a recovery is underway, as the level of quarterly growth (0.3%) is insufficient to cause any significant reduction in unemployment. In October 2013, the unemployment rate stabilized at 12% of the workforce, a record high. Above all, the crisis is leaving scars and creating new imbalances (unemployment, job insecurity and wage deflation) that will act as obstacles to future growth, especially in certain euro zone countries. Continue reading “The euro zone quartered”

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Austerity in Europe: a change of course?

By Marion Cochard and Danielle Schweisguth

On 29 May, the European Commission sent the members of the European Union its new economic policy recommendations. In these recommendations, the Commission calls for postponing the date for achieving the public deficit goals of four euro zone countries (Spain, France, Netherlands and Portugal), leaving them more time to hit the 3% target. Italy is no longer in the excessive deficit procedure. Only Belgium is called on to intensify its efforts. Should this new roadmap be interpreted as a shift towards an easing of austerity policy in Europe? Can we expect a return to growth in the Old Continent? Continue reading “Austerity in Europe: a change of course?”

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France: why such zeal?

By Marion Cochard and Danielle Schweisguth

On 29 May, the European Commission sent the members of the European Union its new economic policy recommendations. As part of this, the Commission granted France an additional two years to reach the deficit reduction target of 3%. This target is now set for 2015, and to achieve this the European Commission is calling for fiscal impulses of -1.3 GDP points in 2013 and -0.8 point in 2014 (see “Austerity in Europe: a change of course?”). This would ease the structural effort needed, since the implementation of the previous commitments would have required impulses of -2.1 and -1.3 GDP points for 2013 and 2014, respectively. Continue reading “France: why such zeal?”

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The chalice of austerity, right to the dregs

Céline Antonin, Christophe Blot and Danielle Schweisguth

This text summarizes the OFCE’s April 2013 forecasts

The macroeconomic and social situation in the euro zone continues to cause concern. The year 2012 was marked by a further decline in GDP (-0.5%) and a continuing rise in the unemployment rate, which reached 11.8% in December. While this new recession is not comparable in magnitude to that of 2009, it is comparable in duration, as GDP fell for the fifth consecutive time in the last quarter of 2012. Above all, for some countries (Spain, Greece and Portugal), this prolonged recession marks the beginning of deflation that could quickly spread to other countries in the euro zone (see The onset of deflation). Finally, this performance has demonstrated the failure of the macroeconomic strategy implemented in the euro zone since 2011. Continue reading “The chalice of austerity, right to the dregs”

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Spain: a lose-lose strategy

by Danielle Schweisguth

At a time when the IMF has publicly recognized that it underestimated the negative impact of fiscal adjustment on Europe’s economic growth, Spain is preparing to publish its public deficit figure for 2012. The initial estimate should be around 8% of GDP, but this could be revised upwards, as was the case in 2011 – while the target negotiated with the European Commission is 6.3%. With social distress at a peak, only a sustainable return to growth would allow Spain to solve its budget problems through higher tax revenue. But the austerity being imposed by Europe is delaying the return of economic growth. And the level of Spain’s fiscal multiplier, which by our estimates is between 1.3 and 1.8, is rendering the policy of fiscal restraint ineffective, since it is not significantly reducing the deficit and is keeping the country in recession. Continue reading “Spain: a lose-lose strategy”

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A recession is not inevitable

By Marion Cochard, Bruno Ducoudré and Danielle Schweisguth

The cold blast from the autumn forecasts continues with the publication of the European Central Bank’s latest forecasts. Revising its growth outlook for the euro zone downwards (to -0.3% for 2013, against the forecast of 0.9% in September), the ECB in turn is now pointing to the reinforced austerity measures and the growing impact of uncertainty in the financial markets. It is clear that the intensity of the fiscal consolidation is paralyzing growth in the euro zone through the interplay of the fiscal multipliers, while not managing to restore confidence. In this note we show that the recessionary spiral that the euro zone is getting sucked into is not an inevitability. Continue reading “A recession is not inevitable”

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The euro zone: confidence won’t be enough

By Céline Antonin, Christophe Blot and Danielle Schweisguth

This text summarizes the OFCE’s October 2012 forecasts for the economy of the euro zone.

After more than two years of crisis in the euro zone, this time the meeting of the European Council, held on 18 and 19 October, had nothing of the atmosphere of yet another last-chance summit. Even though discussions on the future banking union [1] were a source of tension between France and Germany, there was no sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of the European heads of state. However, it would be premature to assume that the crisis is coming to an end. It is sufficient to recall that the GDP of the euro zone has still not regained its pre-crisis level, and in fact declined again by 0.2% in the second quarter of 2012. This decline is forecast to continue, as we expect GDP to fall by 0.5% in 2012 and by 0.1% in 2013. Consequently, the unemployment rate in the euro zone, which has already surpassed its previous historical record from April 1997, will rise further, reaching 12.1% by end 2013. What then are the reasons for the lull? Can the euro zone quickly resume its growth and hope to finally put an end to the social crisis? Continue reading “The euro zone: confidence won’t be enough”

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