Reports of the European Forecasting Network (EFN)
The European Forecasting Network (EFN) was a group of macroeconomic experts from different European research institutions (such as EUI Florence, Universidad Carlos III Madrid, Universitat de Barcelona, IWH).
From 2001 until the beginning of 2019, EFN regularly (quarterly since 2005) published forecasts for the euro area.
EFN Report Spring 2015: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2015 and 2016
No. 2, 2015
Recent movements on world markets for commodities, currencies and capital stimulate the world economy, but they entail also considerable risks: income losses of energy exporting countries might trigger financial crises with worldwide repercussions; crises might also emerge from financial distress of emerging market debtors with liabilities denominated in US dollars. Extremely low interest rates might not only trigger stock and bond price booms, but also more volatility if investors become fearful of financial bubbles. Quite a few conditions are highly beneficial for a recovery of the euro area economy: governments and large corporations benefit from ultra-low bond yields, banks’ composite costs of debt financing have been converging during the past two years to very low levels, and borrowing costs for non-financial corporations have come down markedly. Prices for stocks, bonds and (on average) houses have gone up. Real disposable incomes of private households have risen due to oil prices. The real effective exchange rate is about 10% lower in March 2015 than it was a year ago, strengthening the price competitiveness of firms in the euro area. According to our forecasts, the euro area GDP will grow by 1.6% in 2015 and by 2.1% in 2016. Structural impediments, however, still limit the ability of the euro area economy to grow strongly: firms and, in particular, private households are only slowly reducing their heavy debt burdens, and confidence will not fully come back in France and Italy, as long as reform processes are inconclusive in both countries and as long as unemployment is not coming down markedly. Our inflation forecast for 2015 is 0.1%, with the possibility of a mild deflation not excluded. In 2016 inflation will increase up to 1.3%, still clearly below the 2% ECB’s target. This calls for continued monetary expansion, though its effects could be limited in the absence of a complementary fiscal stimulus, in particular in those countries where the implementation of structural reforms brings long term gains but short term losses.
EFN Report Winter 2014/15: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2015 and 2016
No. 1, 2015
At the beginning of the year 2015 crude oil is, with little more than 50 dollars per barrel (Brent), about 50% cheaper than in the summer 2014. The oil price hike is a stimulus for the whole world economy, even though the gains of energy users are matched by losses of the suppliers: oil producing countries frequently run high current account surpluses vis-à-vis the rest of the world. It is therefore plausible to assume that, reacting to the redistribution of incomes, the oil user countries will increase their spending by more than what will be lost in spending by producers. Investment activity in the euro area has recently been particularly weak. Remarkably, investment in Greece, Portugal, and Spain, i.e. in countries that had to accept international support during the euro crisis, has strengthened. The setback took place in the so-called core countries, including Germany. Consumption growth was also subdued. Lower oil prices, by increasing real incomes of consumers and lowering production costs for firms, should increase private consumption and, in particular, investment. Moreover, the depreciation of the euro will favour exports. Overall, according to our forecasts, the euro area GDP will grow by 1.3% in 2015 and by 1.6% in 2016. GDP growth is about 0.3 percentage points higher due to the impact of lower oil prices in 2015. However, these forecasts are subject to substantial uncertainty, and we do not see any significant reduction of the unemployment rate during the forecasting horizon. Our inflation forecast for 2015 is 0.3%, with the possibility of a mild deflation not excluded. In 2016 inflation will increase up to 1.1%, still clearly below the 2% ECB’s target. This calls for further monetary expansion, though its effects could be limited in the absence of a complementary fiscal stimulus. The expansionary cyclical policies should be combined with more structural reforms to enhance the competitiveness of the euro area and its growth potential, which in our forecasts remains quite limited. In fact, we expect potential output to grow by only 0.4% both in 2015 and 2016.
EFN Report Autumn 2014: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2014 and 2015
In autumn 2014, world production continues to be expanding at a moderate rate, a bit faster than at the beginning of the year. A strong upswing of the world economy is, however, not in sight: the US upswing continues but is not probable to gain more pace, and the Chinese economy has to cope with severe problems in the financial and the housing sector. Important conditions for a stronger recovery are in place: the fall in financing costs allows euro area governments to conduct fiscal policies that are, on average, clearly less restrictive than in the years before, and nonfinancial firms benefit from a shrinking burden of interest payments. Interest rates for bank credit in the southern economies are now slowly going down. However, the recovery will stay sluggish as long as firms and households lack confidence in the economic policy of important member states. In fact, economic confidence in the euro area declined somewhat during summer in part due to news on the conflict between Russia and the west, although only about 5% of all exports leaving the euro area go to Russia or Ukraine. Production growth in the euro area slowed down to stagnation in the second quarter, mainly due to a decline in Germany related to a weather effect. Demand in the rest of the euro area continued to slowly expand. In this context, we forecast that the euro area economy will expand by 1.3% in 2015, after 0.9% in 2014. For 2014 and 2015, we do not see any significant reduction of the unemployment rate, because employment dynamics will stay weak due to subdued growth and the still rising participation rate in the euro area. Our inflation forecast for 2014 is 0.5%. In 2015 inflation will also remain subdued, at about 1.1%.
EFN Report Summer 2014: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2014 and 2015
World growth disappointed at the beginning of the year, when in the US extremely cold weather caused production to contract, the recovery in the euro area stumbled and the slowdown of the Chinese economy continued. At present, however, confidence indicators and order books point to a moderate pickup of growth in most regions. Prices on markets for energy, real and financial assets have reacted little to recent bad news about rising geopolitical risks in the Middle East and Eastern Europe up to now. A sudden increase of risk aversion or a change of believes among investors could trigger a swift deterioration of financial conditions for the world economy. In the euro area, strong stimuli from abroad are not to be expected and private households continue to keep their real spending about constant. Investment has been expanding since summer 2013, but at a very moderate rate. In this context, our forecast for GDP growth is 1.1% in 2014 and 1.6% in 2015. For 2014 and 2015, we do not see any significant reduction of the unemployment rate, because employment dynamics will stay weak due to subdued growth and the still rising participation rate in the euro area. Our inflation forecast for 2014 is 0.6%. In 2015 inflation will also remain subdued, at about 1.0%. In this context of very low price dynamics, monetary policy keeps the recovery alive: official interest rates around zero and the search for yields on financial markets have depressed yields for government bonds; the fall in financing costs allows euro area governments to conduct fiscal policies that are much less restrictive than in the years before, with tax cuts in Italy, France, and Spain starting this year. Nonfinancial firms benefit from a shrinking burden of interest payments, and the availability of bank loans for small and medium enterprises has improved since 2012 in most countries.
EFN Report Spring 2014: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2014 and 2015
The objective of the Report is to provide an analysis of the current and expected macroeconomic and financial conditions at the global level, with also a focus on key economic areas such as Europe, the USA and ASIA.