Trump’s budget policy: Mortgaging the future?

By Christophe Blot

While the momentum for growth has lost steam in some countries – Germany, France and Japan in particular – GDP in the United States is continuing to rise at a steady pace. Growth could even pick up pace in the course of the year as a highly expansionary fiscal policy is implemented. In 2018 and 2019, the fiscal stimulus approved by the Trump administration – in December 2017 for the revenue component, and in February 2018 for the expenditure side – would amount to 2.9 GDP points. This level of fiscal impulse would come close to that implemented by Obama for 2008. However, Trump’s choice has been made in a very different context, since the unemployment rate in the United States fell back below the 4% mark in April 2018, whereas it was accelerating 10 years ago, peaking at 9.9% in 2009. The US economy should benefit from the stimulus, but at the cost of accumulating additional debt. Continue reading “Trump’s budget policy: Mortgaging the future?”

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The end of a cycle?

OFCE Analysis and Forecasting Department

This text is based on the 2018-2019 outlook for the world economy and the euro zone, a full version of which is available here [in French].

Global growth remained buoyant in 2017, allowing both the recovery and the reduction in unemployment to continue, especially in the advanced countries where growth rose to 2.3%, up from 1.6% the previous year. Although there are still a few countries where GDP has not recovered to its pre-crisis level, this improvement will gradually erase the stigma of the Great Recession that hit the economy 10 years ago. Above all, activity seemed to be gathering pace at the end of the year as, with the exception of the United Kingdom, annual GDP growth continued to pick up pace (Figure 1). However, the gradual return of the unemployment rate to its pre-crisis level and the closing of growth differentials, particularly in the United States and Germany, which had widened during the crisis, could foreshadow a coming collapse of growth. The first available estimates of growth in the first quarter of 2018 seem to lend credence to this assumption. Continue reading “The end of a cycle?”

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The French economy: Lasting or transitory slowdown?

By the OFCE France team

On Friday, April 27, the INSEE published the national accounts for the first quarter of 2018. With growth of 0.3%, the French economy seems to be slowing down, even though after five years of sluggish growth (0.8% on average over the period 2012-16) a recovery finally materialized in 2017 when GDP rose 2%. While the quarterly profile of GDP growth in 2018 will be marked by the timing of fiscal measures, which will affect purchasing power (rise in indirect taxation and the CSG tax) and thus the trajectory of household consumption, the impact, which is anticipated in our spring forecast (Table), should be only provisional. Household purchasing power should increase in the following quarters, with a sharp acceleration at the end of the year driven by the fall in the housing tax and the second tranche of reductions in social security contributions. Continue reading “The French economy: Lasting or transitory slowdown?”

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Italy: The horizon seems to be clearing

By Céline Antonin

With growth in Italy of 0.4% in the third quarter of 2017 (see table below), the country’s economy seems to have recovered and is benefiting from the more general recovery in the euro zone as a whole. The improvement in growth is linked to several factors: first, the continued closing of the output gap, which had worsened sharply after a double recession (2008-2009 and 2012-2013). In addition, the expansionary fiscal policy in 2017 (+0.3 fiscal impulse), mainly targeted at businesses, and thriving consumption driven by expanding employment and rising wages explain this good performance. The increase in employment is the result of the reduction in social contributions that began in 2015 as well as the pick-up in growth in 2016 and 2017. Continue reading “Italy: The horizon seems to be clearing”

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The euro zone: A general recovery

By Christophe Blot

This text is based on the 2017-2019 outlook for the global economy and the euro zone, a full version of which is available here.

The euro zone has returned to growth since mid-2013, after having experienced two crises (the financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis) that led to two recessions: in 2008-2009 and 2011-2013. According to Eurostat, growth accelerated during the third quarter of 2017 and reached 2.6% year-on-year (0.6% quarter-on-quarter), its highest level since the first quarter of 2011 (2.9%). Beyond the performance of the euro zone as a whole, the current situation is marked by the generalization of the recovery to all the euro zone countries, which was not the case in the previous phase of recovery in 2010-2011. Fears about the sustainability of the debt of the so-called peripheral countries were already being reflected in a sharp fall in GDP in Greece and the gradual slide into recession of Portugal, Spain and a little later Italy. Continue reading “The euro zone: A general recovery”

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Renewed growth in the United Kingdom in 2013: trompe-l’oeil effects

By Catherine Mathieu

The latest estimate of the British national accounts, published on 27 November, confirmed GDP growth of 0.8% in the third quarter of 2013, following 0.7% in the second quarter and 0.4% in the first quarter. This represents a sparkling performance for the UK economy, especially in comparison with the euro zone. GDP was up 1.5% year on year in the third quarter of 2013 in the UK, against -0.4% in the euro zone, 0.2% in France and 0.6% in Germany. In the eyes of some observers, Britain’s return to growth shows that fiscal austerity does not undermine growth … on the contrary. But the argument seems at a minimum questionable. Continue reading “Renewed growth in the United Kingdom in 2013: trompe-l’oeil effects”

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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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France: less austerity, more growth

By Eric Heyer

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

In 2013, the French economy should experience annual average growth of 0.2%, which means that by the end of the year its level of production should return to the level of six years earlier, at the end of 2007. This mediocre performance is very far from the trajectory that an economy recovering from a crisis should be on.

The French economy did however have great potential for recovery: average spontaneous growth of about 2.6% per annum over the period 2010-2013 was possible and would have allowed France to make up the output gap accumulated in 2008-2009. But this “recovery” has been hampered mainly by the introduction of budget savings plans in France and across Europe. For the single year 2013, this fiscal strategy will cut economic activity in France by 2.4 GDP points. Continue reading “France: less austerity, more growth”

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Does too much finance kill growth?

By Jérôme Creel, Paul Hubert and Fabien Labondance

Is there an optimal level of financialization in an economy? An IMF working paper written by Arcand, Berkes and Panizza (2012) focuses on this issue and attempts to assess this level empirically. The paper highlights the negative effects caused by excessive financialization. Continue reading “Does too much finance kill growth?”

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A fiscal policy to promote structural reform – lessons from the German case

By Eric Heyer

“France should copy Germany’s reforms to thrive”, Gerhard Schröder entitled an opinion piece in the Financial Times on 5 June 2013. As for the European Commission (EC), its latest annual recommendations to the Member states, released on 29 May, seem to take a step back from its strategy of a rapid and synchronized return to balancing the public finances, which has been in place since 2010. The EU executive’s priority now seems to be implementation of structural reforms of the labour and services markets in the euro zone countries. Continue reading “A fiscal policy to promote structural reform – lessons from the German case”

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