EFN Report Summer 2017: Economic Outlook for the Euro Area in 2017 and 2018
• 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.