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 Winter 2017/18: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2018 and 2019
in: European Forecasting Network Reports, No. 1, 2018
With advanced economies likely to face over-utilization of economic capacities in 2018 for the first time since the Great Recession, companies will further expand their investment activities. Price and wage dynamics will pick up globally, triggered by the recent increase in energy prices. A major risk for the world economy pertains to financial markets: measures for risk tolareance and valuations for many types of assets have approached levels last reached ten years ago, on the eve of the financial crisis. A sudden readjustment of asset prices and risk premia could worsen financial conditions globally and seriously affect the global economy. The cyclical upswing of the euro area economy continues. The recovery, under way since summer 2013, transformed into an upswing in autumn 2016 when demand from outside the euro area increased quite abruptly; higher exports and improved expectations have contrinuted to induce firms to invest more into equipment. Wage dynamics in the euro area appear to increase, but only slowly. An annual growth rate for hourly wage costs of about 2% is still not enough to put upward pressure on prices, but this will change eventually as the cyclical upswing is likely to continue. Inflation will, according to our forecast, reach the ECB’s target of below but close to 2% in the second half of 2019. Conditions for further healthy growth in the euro area are in place, but employment dynamics might markedly lose momentum in some member countries in the second half of 2018, as the potential labour force is becoming more and more exhausted. Overall, we forecast euro area GDP to grow by 2.2% in 2018 and by 1.5% in 2019.
EFN Report Autumn 2017: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2017 and 2018
in: European Forecasting Network Reports, No. 4, 2017
In 2017 the world economy is in an upswing, but consumer price inflation is still surprisingly low in advanced economies, and central banks will therefore keep key interest rates very low and financial conditions favorable for the rest of the year and, probably, for 2018. Global growth, though, will moderate a bit, since expansive policy measures in China have been reduced. As an early consequence, imports of emerging Asia were no more than stagnant during summer. The upswing in the euro area is broad based, both regionally and with respect to the different components of aggregate demand, as investment has recently picked up markedly, partly due to construction of dwellings. From the production side, the level of capacity utilization in the manufacturing sector is clearly above its long-term average and rising further. Inflation will not have reached the ECB’s target rate of below but close to 2% at the end of 2018. The trend of a growing participation rate in labour markets and the amount of part-time and low quality jobs are some reasons why overall wage and price dynamics are still very moderate; the appreciation of the euro, the incorporation of technical innovations and a possible change in the consumer preferences for low-cost products could be other reasons. We forecast a GDP growth rate of 2.3% for 2017 and 1.9% for 2018. This year’s strong pickup of world trade means that net exports will, in spite of rather strong domestic demand, contribute positively to GDP growth in 2017, while the opposite holds for 2018, due to the significant appreciation of the Euro.
EFN Report Summer 2017: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2017 and 2018
in: European Forecasting Network Reports, No. 3, 2017
• Worldwide economic activity is vivid in summer 2017. Data on production for the first quarter of the year were only mixed: in the euro area quarterly growth was accelerating, but it went down in the US, Japan, and China. Other basic indicators, however, suggest that these economies continue expanding healthily. • Risks concerning the international economic policy framework remain, in particular since the economic agenda of the US government is still unclear, and no one knows whether the Brexit negotiations will lead the way to an orderly separation of Britain from the EU. • Production in the euro area has been expanding by more that 1 ½ % per year for almost three years now; since summer 2016, this expansion has even gained a bit of pace, mainly due to a expansion in France and, to a lesser extent, in Italy. • The ECB’s cautious hints at a coming normalization of monetary policy were enough to have a discernible effect on financial conditions at the end of June: yields for long term bonds rose, and the euro appreciated. That said, the common currency is still relatively cheap, and borrowing costs for non-financial firms and private households are still low. • Overall, we raise our GDP forecast for 2017 from 1.7% (spring report) to 2.1% and for 2018 to 1.8% (spring: 1.7%). We expect HICP inflation to remain well below the ECB target both in 2017 and 2018. • A major risk for the continuation of the current upswing in 2018 comes from the normalization of monetary policy: it is not clear by how much long term interests will rise and whether higher borrowing costs will jeopardize the confidence of financial markets in the solvency of some public debtors in 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.