Reports of the European Forecasting Network (EFN)
The European Forecasting Network (EFN) is a group of macroeconomic experts from different European research institutions (such as EUI Florence, Universidad Carlos III Madrid, Universitat de Barcelona, IWH).
Since 2001, EFN regularly (quarterly since 2005) publishes forecasts for the euro area.
EFN Report Spring 2017: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2017 and 2018
in: European Forecasting Network Reports , No. 2, 2017
Global economic activity appears to be expanding rapidly during spring 2017. Confidence among managers is either strong or has improved in all major regions, and world trade and industrial production have, after two years of weakness, picked up markedly during last winter. For 2 ½ years, the euro area economy has now been constantly expanding at an annual rate of about 1.6%, slightly above potential. Employment has also been expanding steadily. Production and employment have been recently rising almost everywhere, including countries such as France and Italy where unemployment rates still do not appear to be on a downward trend. Official investment data for 2015 and 2016 appear to be distorted: big multinational firms relocated parts of their assets (intellectual property products in particular) or their registered business offices from countries outside the euro area to Ireland. As a consequence, reported gross fixed capital formation in Ireland expanded by 33% in 2015 and by 45% in 2016. Without this effect, investment growth in the euro area is about one percentage point lower in 2015 and 2016. Headline inflation hit 2% in February, but this was only the effect of higher world oil prices. The core rate is stubbornly at slightly below 1%, and wages rise annually by scarcely 1.5%. The revival of the economy will have to continue for considerably more time until inflation will come close to the ECB target zone. As monetary conditions continue to support growth, financial policies will be slightly expansive, and a certain external stimulus should come from the apparent recovery of world trade. Overall, we forecast euro area GDP to expand by 1.7% in both 2017 and 2018. However, policy uncertainty is substantial and could have a negative effect. In particular, elections in member states might give power to movements that aim at disintegrating Europe. Such a turn could rapidly undermine confidence, in particular in the financial strength of highly indebted member states.
EFN Report Winter 2016/17: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2017 and 2018
in: European Forecasting Network Reports , No. 1, 2017
Global economic activity has revived since autumn, and equity markets have rallied at the end of the year. Apparently, some of the measures proposed during the US election campaign by the president elect, such as financial market deregulation, economic stimulus, tax cuts and infrastructure are expected to support the economy in the US and beyond. However, this stimulus bears considerable risks already for the near future: other economies could face considerable problems due to a further appreciation of the dollar, rising financing costs and the withdrawal of capital towards the US. In the euro area, as monetary policy continues its expansive course, financing costs will stay very low in 2017, and fiscal policy will be mildly expansive, although a bit less so than in 2016. Confidence of firms and private households has strengthened in recent months, as has the mood on financial markets. We expect that the recovery will continue at about the pace of 2016. GDP will, according to our forecast, increase by 1.6% in 2017 and by 1.7% in 2018. However, the crisis in the Italian banking sector has intensified. It might also trigger another crisis of confidence in European institutional arrangements: according to the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive, banks may only be saved with public money if owners and creditors of these banks have contributed to the rescue. At present it seems doubtful whether it would be politically feasible to respect this rule. Regarding inflation, our forecast for 2017 is 1.2%. Although energy prices have risen significantly, price pressures are still low.
EFN Report Autumn 2016: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2017 and 2017
in: European Forecasting Network Reports , No. 3, 2016
During the first half of 2016, investment activity of private firms was weak in most advanced economies and labour producitivity was even decreasing, as was world trade in goods. Consumption of private households, however, kept the world economy afloat. Within this global context, the modest recovery of the euro area economy continues, with important tailwinds from labour markets. Employment ist expanding everywhre, even in those countries, such as France and Italy, where unemployment rates have still not come down significantly. Since monetary and fisical policies will not become more expansive in 2017, the stimulus from cheap oil is fading, and exports to the UK will be dragged down by the fallout of the Brexit votem there is reason to expect the euro area recovery to lose some momentum. GDP will, according to our forecast, increase by 1,6% in this year and by 1,5% in 2017, about as much as potential output in the euro area. Our inflation forecast for 2016 is 0,2%. For 2017, we expect inflation to increase up to 1,2%, as during next year the favourable effects of decreasing energy prices will fade off.
EFN Report Summer 2016: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2016 and 2017
in: European Forecasting Network Reports , No. 3, 2016
Short run consequences of Brexit for the euro area economy mainly depend on the effects on confidence in the stability of the European Union and the currency area in particular. Anti-European (or indeed anti-globalization) movements are certainly encouraged by the British vote. More important, however, might be a reverse effect: from the perspective of the British turmoil, the euro area might in the near future appear as a zone of relative stability and calm. Against the background of a sluggish world economy, the euro area economy recently performed reasonably well: dynamics have been slowly increasing since 2013, and the rate of expansion in the first quarter of 2016 was one of the highest of the past couple of years. Looking forward, the drivers of the recovery should continue supporting growth in the second half of 2016 and for much of 2017. Our forecast is that euro area GDP will expand by 1.7% in 2016 and by 1.6% in 2017, with only a minor effect from Brexit. This year, like in 2015, average oil prices will probably be markedly lower than they were a year ago, supporting real incomes of private households and lowering production costs of firms, and monetary policy will still be supportive. Labour markets appear to continue improving slowly. Associated with the improved economic conditions, we expect a slight increase in euro area inflation during 2016, 0.3%, with a more marked increase in 2017, 1,3%.
EFN Report Spring 2016: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2016 and 2017
No. 2, 2016
Global growth will stay rather moderate this year. The peak of the upswing in the US appears to be over. For Japan, after three years of “Abenomics”, a prolonged upswing is still elusive. In China low profitability and high debt levels of many government-owned industrial firms continue to drag growth down. The low prices for commodities heighten uncertainty and volatility on financial markets since they increase the risks of financial crises in economies that are dependent on commodity exports. In the euro area, chances for the recovery to continue are good, as this year, like in 2015, oil prices will probably be markedly lower than they were a year ago, supporting real income of private households and lowering production costs of firms. In this context, our forecast is that euro area GDP will expand by 1.6% in 2016 and by 1.7% in 2017. These rates are higher than the rate of potential growth, but they are arguably low given the expansive monetary policy and the strong stimulus from decreased commodity prices. We do not expect an increase in euro area inflation during 2016, but prices will grow by around 1% in 2017, because the dampening effects of decreasing energy prices slowly fade off and the euro remains rather weak. However, risks for this cautiously optimistic forecast are substantial. New shadows on the financial sector, the uncertainty about whether or not the British will vote in favour of membership in the European Union and the lack of a viable political solution for the refugee crisis are some of the main uncertainties behind these forecasts.