EFN Report Summer 2018: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2018 and 2019
• In summer 2018 the cyclical upswing of the world economy is not over, but it appears to be fragmenting. While economic activity in the European Union has lost steam, the upswing in the US has gained pace, and growth in China appears to be robust. • Markets for commodities as well as for capital are at present strongly affected by political movements: oil prices are more than 50% higher than one year ago, as the US exit from the Iran nuclear deal puts the long run oil supply from Iran at risk, and the strongly expansionary US tax reform explains the rise in US long run interest rates. . • Uncertainties about the future international trade system cause firms to slow down or even reverse the globalization of value chains. As an early consequence, world trade in the second half of 2018 and in 2019 will expand at much slower rates than during 2017. • In the euro area growth slowed in the first quarter 2018, due to weaker investment activity in France and Italy and, more importantly, a fall in exports in all larger euro area economies except Spain. However, the drivers of the upswing such as low interest rates for credit and expanding real incomes will still be supportive in the near future, and fiscal policies will be slighly more expansionary. But a slowdown in world trade will dent export growth as well as corporate profits. All in all, we expect GDP growth in the euro area to go down from 2.4% in 2017 to 2.1% in 2018 and to 1.7% in 2019 – a forecast that will only be realized if damages to the international trade system are limited and if the European sovereign debt crisis does not come back. • While wage inflation has been slowly increasing during the past quarters to about 2%, a clear upwards trend of core consumer price inflation is still not detectable. The recent jump of the headline rate to 1.9% is due to higher oil prices. Our forecasts for 2018 and 2019 are close, although still below, 2%.