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%.