European
Economic
Forecast
European Economy 3|2014
Economic and
Financial Affairs
Spring 2014
ISSN 1725-3217 (online)
ISSN...
The European Economy series contains important reports and communications from the
Commission to the Council and the Parli...
European Commission
Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs
European Economic Forecast
Spring 2014
EUROPEAN...
ABBREVIATIONS
ii
Countries and regions
EU European Union
EA euro area
BE Belgium
BG Bulgaria
CZ Czech Republic
DK Denmark
...
iii
NAWRU Non-Accelerating Wage Rate of Unemployment
PMI Purchasing Managers' Index
REER Real Effective Exchange Rate
SGP ...
iv
Currencies
EUR Euro
ECU European currency unit
BGN Bulgarian lev
CNY Chinese yuan, renminbi
CZK Czech koruna
DKK Danish...
CONTENTS
v
Overview 1
PART I: EA and EU outlook 5
Growth becoming broader-based 7
1. Recovery is spreading across the EU 7...
vi
24. Slovenia: Broader-based recovery as labour market stabilises 92
25. Slovakia: More balanced growth ahead 94
26. Fin...
vii
I.9. Benchmark 10-year government bonds 13
I.10. Corporate bond spreads, euro area (5-year maturity) 13
I.11. Interest...
EDITORIAL
ix
The EU economic outlook is strengthening. While leading indicators point to GDP growth gaining
momentum in th...
OVERVIEW
1
After being hit by a double-dip recession since 2008, there are genuine signs
that a more lasting recovery is n...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
2
been trimmed slightly since the winter. HICP inflation in the EU and the euro
ar...
Overview
3
for demand. However, investment growth in many countries will continue to
be dampened by high corporate debt le...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
4
subdued. Employment growth in 2014 is expected to be limited, at 0.6% in
the EU ...
PART I
EA and EU outlook
GROWTH BECOMING BROADER-BASED
7
1. RECOVERY IS SPREADING ACROSS THE EU
After being hit by a double-dip recession since
200...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
8
negative growth, compared to 15 a year earlier.
Supported by diminishing uncerta...
EA and EU outlook
9
prevented economic activity from tumbling while
domestic demand shrunk sharply as a result of
adjustme...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
10
higher than the headline figure, in cyclically-
adjusted terms (see table I.1)....
EA and EU outlook
11
reflecting weaker activity in most parts of the
world and a persistent pattern of subdued trade
inten...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
12
heating demand in the US may be temporary, but
the surge in US demand may also ...
EA and EU outlook
13
to remain highly accommodative over the forecast
horizon, as the FOMC anticipates that interest rates...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
14
euro area), partly offsetting the weakness in bank
lending. While larger corpor...
EA and EU outlook
15
… with subdued growth continuing in the short
term, before gathering pace.
The economic recovery is e...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
16
consumption gains from slightly improving labour
market conditions (see graph I...
EA and EU outlook
17
and euro area industry, which clearly exceed their
long-term levels. Production expectations and
conf...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
18
households’ saving rates remained unchanged at
around 11% in the EU and 13% in ...
EA and EU outlook
19
… but the contribution of net exports should
lessen going forward.
In the short term, further export ...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
20
Continued slow improvements are expected in
2014-15
With output growth accelera...
EA and EU outlook
21
the rise in the Non Accelerating Wage Rate of
Unemployment (NAWRU) which is the level of
unemployment...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
22
low services price inflation, owing to weak euro-
area demand and contained pri...
EA and EU outlook
23
inflation is set to rise very progressively in the EU,
from 0.8% in the first quarter of 2014 to 1.2%...
European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014
24
minor projected improvement of 0.1-0.2 pp. of
GDP in both areas. In 2015, under...
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Previsiones comisión-europea-privamera2014

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  • 1. European Economic Forecast European Economy 3|2014 Economic and Financial Affairs Spring 2014 ISSN 1725-3217 (online) ISSN 0379-0991 (print)
  • 2. The European Economy series contains important reports and communications from the Commission to the Council and the Parliament on the economy and economic developments. Unless otherwise indicated the texts are published under the responsibility of the European Commission Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs Unit Communication B-1049 Brussels Belgium E-mail : ecfin-info@ec.europa.eu LEGAL NOTICE Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on its behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained in this publication, or for any errors which, despite careful preparation and checking, may appear. This paper exists in English only and can be downloaded from http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/. More information on the European Union is available on http://europa.eu. KC-AR-14-003-EN-N (online) KC-AR-14-003-EN-C (print) ISBN 978-92-79-35346-8 (online) ISBN 978-92-79-36004-6 (print) doi:10.2765/75648 (online) doi:10.2765/76645 (print) © European Union, 2014 Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
  • 3. European Commission Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs European Economic Forecast Spring 2014 EUROPEAN ECONOMY 3/2014
  • 4. ABBREVIATIONS ii Countries and regions EU European Union EA euro area BE Belgium BG Bulgaria CZ Czech Republic DK Denmark DE Germany EE Estonia IE Ireland EL Greece ES Spain FR France HR Croatia IT Italy CY Cyprus LV Latvia LT Lithuania LU Luxembourg HU Hungary MT Malta NL The Netherlands AT Austria PL Poland PT Portugal RO Romania SI Slovenia SK Slovakia FI Finland SE Sweden UK United Kingdom JP Japan US United States of America BRICS Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa CEE Central and Eastern Europe CIS Commonwealth of Independent States EFTA European Free Trade Association MENA Middle East and North Africa ROW Rest of the World Economic variables and institutions BCS Business and Consumer Surveys CDS Credit Default Swaps EDP Excessive Deficit Procedure ESI Economic Sentiment Indicator Euribor European Interbank Offered Rate GDP Gross Domestic Product GNI Gross National Income HICP Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices Libor London Interbank Offered Rate
  • 5. iii NAWRU Non-Accelerating Wage Rate of Unemployment PMI Purchasing Managers' Index REER Real Effective Exchange Rate SGP Stability and Growth Pact VAT Value-Added Tax CPB Centraal Planbureau, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis ECB European Central Bank EIB European Investment Bank EFSF European Financial Stability Facility EMU Economic and Monetary Union ESM European Stability Mechanism FOMC Federal Open Market Committee, US Fed Federal Reserve, US IMF International Monetary Fund OBR Office for Budget Responsibility, UK OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development WTO World Trade Organisation Other abbreviations AQR Asset Quality Review BLS Bank Lending Survey CFCI Composite Financing Cost Indicator DSGE Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium [model] FDI Foreign Direct Investment FLS Funding for Lending Scheme, UK FY Financial year JPA Job Protection Plan, Hungary LFS Labour Force Survey LTRO Longer-Term Refinancing Operation MRO Main Refinancing Operations NFC Non-Financial Corporations OMT Outright Monetary Transactions SME Small and medium-sized enterprises SMP Securities Market Programme, ECB QUEST Quarterly Estimation and Simulation Tool, DG ECFIN's DSGE model Graphs/Tables/Units a.a. Annual average bbl Barrel bn Billion bps Basis points lhs Left hand scale pp. / pps. Percentage point / points pts Points Q Quarter q-o-q% Quarter-on-quarter percentage change rhs Right hand scale SAAR Seasonally-Adjusted Annual Rate tn Trillion y-o-y% Year-on-year percentage change
  • 6. iv Currencies EUR Euro ECU European currency unit BGN Bulgarian lev CNY Chinese yuan, renminbi CZK Czech koruna DKK Danish krone GBP Pound sterling HUF Hungarian forint HRK Croatian kuna ISK Icelandic krona LTL Lithuanian litas MKD Macedonian denar NOK Norwegian krone PLN Polish zloty RON New Romanian leu RSD Serbian dinar SEK Swedish krona CHF Swiss franc JPY Japanese yen TRY Turkish lira USD US dollar
  • 7. CONTENTS v Overview 1 PART I: EA and EU outlook 5 Growth becoming broader-based 7 1. Recovery is spreading across the EU 7 2. The external environment 10 3. Financial markets in Europe 12 4. Gdp and components 14 5. Labour market conditions 19 6. Inflation developments 21 7. Public finances 23 8. Risks 25 PART II: Prospects by individual economy 43 Member States 45 1. Belgium: Towards broad-based growth 46 2. Bulgaria: Economic growth accelerates, but downside risks remain 48 3. The Czech Republic: Signs of a sustainable recovery 50 4. Denmark: First signs of recovery 52 5. Germany: Dynamic domestic demand-driven expansion 54 6. Estonia: Gradual recovery despite rising uncertainties 56 7. Ireland: Financial stabilisation and labour market improvement sustain the recovery 58 8. Greece: Recovery signs strengthening 60 9. Spain: Job creation returns as the recovery firms 62 10. France: Recovery slowly takes shape mainly driven by domestic demand 64 11. Croatia: Downward drift continues with no firm growth model yet in place 66 12. Italy: Exports and investment in equipment support a slow recovery 68 13. Cyprus: Recession bottoms out gradually as economy rebalances 70 14. Latvia: Strong performance amid rising external uncertainty 72 15. Lithuania: Domestic demand ensures steady growth 74 16. Luxembourg: Sustained growth and good employment prospects ahead 76 17. Hungary: Ongoing recovery amid uncertainties 78 18. Malta: Robust growth outlook 80 19. The Netherlands: Economy on the rise after prolonged recession 82 20. Austria: A gradual recovery under way, supported by domestic demand 84 21. Poland: Economic activity gradually gaining steam 86 22. Portugal: Higher growth ahead after deep structural adjustment 88 23. Romania: Strengthening domestic demand contributes to robust growth 90
  • 8. vi 24. Slovenia: Broader-based recovery as labour market stabilises 92 25. Slovakia: More balanced growth ahead 94 26. Finland: From recession to gradual recovery 96 27. Sweden: On the way to broad-based growth 98 28. The United Kingdom: Growth becoming firmly established and broadening 100 Candidate Countries 103 29. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Recovery expected to stay on track at moderate growth rates 104 30. Iceland: Recovering under external constraints 106 31. Montenegro: Broad-based recovery 108 32. Serbia: Consumption to remain a drag on growth 110 33. Turkey: Growth drivers shift to the external sector 112 Other non-EU Countries 115 34. The United States of America: Broad-based recovery taking hold 116 35. Japan: Stable growth ahead amidst rising uncertainty 118 36. China: Growth continues to edge downwards 120 37. EFTA: External demand not arriving by Swiss railway - it is late 122 38. Russian Federation: Subdued growth ahead amid geopolitical tensions 124 Statistical Annex 129 LIST OF TABLES 1. Overview - the spring 2014 forecast 1 I.1. Current-account and cyclically-adjusted current-account balances, EU Member States 10 I.2. International environment 12 I.3. Composition of growth - EU 15 I.4. Composition of growth - euro area 16 I.5. Labour market outlook - euro area and EU 20 I.6. General Government budgetary position - euro area and EU 24 I.7. Euro-area debt dynamics 25 LIST OF GRAPHS I.1. Real GDP, EU 7 I.2. HICP, EU 7 I.3. PMI Composite Output Index, euro area and selected Member States 8 I.4. Average growth rate of real GDP (2014-15), selected Member States 8 I.5. Contribution of net exports to GDP growth 9 I.6. Unit labour cost and components: Average annual growth over 2014-15, euro-area Member States 9 I.7. Contributions to World GDP growth from EU, non-EU advanced and emerging economies 10 I.8. World trade and Global PMI manufacturing output 11
  • 9. vii I.9. Benchmark 10-year government bonds 13 I.10. Corporate bond spreads, euro area (5-year maturity) 13 I.11. Interest rates on loans to enterprises (new businesses, maturity up to 1 year) 14 I.12. Economic Sentiment Indicator and PMI Composite Output Index, EU 15 I.13. Real GDP growth and its components, EU 16 I.14. Investment accelerator, EU 16 I.15. Equipment investment and capacity utilisation, EU 17 I.16. Private consumption and consumer confidence, EU 18 I.17. Global demand, EU exports and new export orders 19 I.18. Employment expectations, DG ECFIN surveys, EU 20 I.19. Employment growth and unemployment rate, EU 21 I.20. Average unemployment level and dispersion in the euro area 21 I.21. Inflation breakdown, EU 21 I.22. Inflation expectations derived from implied forward inflation- linked swap rates 22 I.23. Contribution to euro-area HICP inflation 2007-15 23 I.24. Annual HICP inflation in the euro area over 2014-15 23 I.25. Budgetary developments, EU 24 I.26. General government revenues and expenditure, EU 24 I.27. Euro area GDP forecasts - Uncertainty linked to the balance of risks 26 LIST OF BOXES I.1. The revised methodology for calculating output gaps 27 I.2. Financing conditions and credit growth 30 I.3. Housing market adjustment in the European Union 34 I.4. Structural unemployment 37 I.5. Some technical elements behind the forecast 40
  • 10. EDITORIAL ix The EU economic outlook is strengthening. While leading indicators point to GDP growth gaining momentum in the near term, the conditions for a sustained recovery in the medium term are also improving. In view of the crisis legacy, growth is still set to remain moderate, but a gradual easing of the drag related to deleveraging, financial fragmentation, adjustment of external imbalances and uncertainty is noticeable. The improved economic outlook encompasses the vulnerable euro-area Member States, where the impact of the crisis and adjustment needs had been the strongest. However, challenges and vulnerabilities remain and require continued monitoring and policy action. Moreover, support from the external side may turn out to be weaker than earlier anticipated. While growth in advanced economies is generally firming, emerging market economies register a moderate deceleration, and world trade has hit a soft patch amid a continued appreciation of the euro exchange rate. New geopolitical risks have emerged on the back of tensions with Russia. In the EU, the rotation towards domestic demand that started in the second half of 2013 is progressing. Private consumption is again expanding, though at a slow pace. Improved confidence and falling energy inflation provide some support in the short run. Sustained consumption growth will however depend crucially on improvements in the labour-market situation. Even though joblessness is projected to decline only slowly, there are encouraging signs of employment growth setting in, and of recent labour-market reforms in vulnerable Member States starting to bear fruit. Investment has picked up more robustly than consumption, and is set to strengthen further from a very low basis. The constraints that caused the large investment shortfall since 2008 are gradually fading, as capacity utilisation is normalising, corporate debt deleveraging has made progress and uncertainty has been abating. At present, the investment recovery is however not supported by credit. This is not necessarily a major constraint in the very short run, as firms typically use internal funds to finance investment in the early stages of a recovery. Further ahead, credit supply conditions are expected to ease, as banks have been progressing with the repair of their balance sheets and their funding conditions are good. Finally, after several years of frontloaded adjustment, domestic demand also benefits from a broadly neutral budgetary policy for the euro area and the EU as a whole. Overall, the outlook has improved, but it remains conditional on continued credible action on several fronts at national and EU levels. Recent structural reforms have increased the adaptability of labour and product markets in a number of Member States. Even so, important adjustment challenges remain: record- high unemployment, concerns about a fair distribution of the adjustment costs, as well as a pace of the recovery which is much slower than in other advanced economies could erode the support for implementing further reforms. The necessary competitiveness adjustment and debt reduction in vulnerable countries are more difficult to achieve with very low EU-wide inflation, in particular if it were to persist over too prolonged a period. In "core" countries, reforms to strengthen domestic demand are needed. Supervisors should encourage banks to exploit the benign market conditions to strengthen their capital base so as to be in a better position to deal with the outcome of the AQR and stress tests this autumn. At EU level, reforms to deepen capital markets so as to provide a complement to bank credit and strengthen SMEs' financing will be important to sustain the recovery beyond the short term. The present forecast is encouraging. But it would be a mistake to think that the efforts to rebuild the European economy are behind us and one can relax the reform focus. Marco Buti Director General Economic and Financial Affairs
  • 11. OVERVIEW 1 After being hit by a double-dip recession since 2008, there are genuine signs that a more lasting recovery is now taking place in the EU and the euro area. In recent months, confidence has improved and business indicators have remained above their long-term levels supporting our central scenario of a recovery that is gradually gaining strength and spreading across the EU. Growth indeed turned positive in a large majority of Member States over the course of last year and the outlook has improved even in the more vulnerable ones. Revisions to the winter forecast are minor. Real GDP growth is projected to advance with moderate momentum in 2014, at 1.6% and 1.2% respectively in the EU and the euro area, before gaining some further speed to respectively 2.0% and 1.7% in 2015. As expected, domestic demand is strengthening as the legacy of the economic and financial crisis (deleveraging and adjustment of external imbalances, uncertainty and financial fragmentation) gradually fades. Labour market conditions have started to improve and unemployment should continue to decline albeit very gradually in most Member States. On the back of somewhat stronger-than expected disinflationary trends in the first quarter of 2014, the forecast for inflation has The economic outlook is improving… 2012 2013 2014 2015 2012 2013 2014 2015 2012 2013 2014 2015 Belgium -0.1 0.2 1.4 1.6 2.6 1.2 0.9 1.3 7.6 8.4 8.5 8.2 Germany 0.7 0.4 1.8 2.0 2.1 1.6 1.1 1.4 5.5 5.3 5.1 5.1 Estonia 3.9 0.8 1.9 3.0 4.2 3.2 1.5 3.0 10.0 8.6 8.1 7.5 Ireland 0.2 -0.3 1.7 3.0 1.9 0.5 0.6 1.1 14.7 13.1 11.4 10.2 Greece -7.0 -3.9 0.6 2.9 1.0 -0.9 -0.8 0.3 24.3 27.3 26.0 24.0 Spain -1.6 -1.2 1.1 2.1 2.4 1.5 0.1 0.8 25.0 26.4 25.5 24.0 France 0.0 0.2 1.0 1.5 2.2 1.0 1.0 1.1 9.8 10.3 10.4 10.2 Italy -2.4 -1.9 0.6 1.2 3.3 1.3 0.7 1.2 10.7 12.2 12.8 12.5 Cyprus -2.4 -5.4 -4.8 0.9 3.1 0.4 0.4 1.4 11.9 15.9 19.2 18.4 Latvia 5.2 4.1 3.8 4.1 2.3 0.0 1.2 2.5 15.0 11.9 10.7 9.6 Luxembourg -0.2 2.1 2.6 2.7 2.9 1.7 1.4 2.4 5.1 5.8 5.7 5.5 Malta 0.6 2.4 2.3 2.3 3.2 1.0 1.2 1.9 6.4 6.5 6.5 6.5 Netherlands -1.2 -0.8 1.2 1.4 2.8 2.6 0.7 0.9 5.3 6.7 7.4 7.3 Austria 0.9 0.4 1.6 1.8 2.6 2.1 1.6 1.7 4.3 4.9 4.8 4.7 Portugal -3.2 -1.4 1.2 1.5 2.8 0.4 0.4 1.1 15.9 16.5 15.4 14.8 Slovenia -2.5 -1.1 0.8 1.4 2.8 1.9 0.7 1.2 8.9 10.1 10.1 9.8 Slovakia 1.8 0.9 2.2 3.1 3.7 1.5 0.4 1.6 14.0 14.2 13.6 12.9 Finland -1.0 -1.4 0.2 1.0 3.2 2.2 1.4 1.4 7.7 8.2 8.5 8.4 Euro area -0.7 -0.4 1.2 1.7 2.5 1.3 0.8 1.2 11.3 12.0 11.8 11.4 Bulgaria 0.6 0.9 1.7 2.0 2.4 0.4 -0.8 1.2 12.3 13.0 12.8 12.5 Czech Republic -1.0 -0.9 2.0 2.4 3.5 1.4 0.8 1.8 7.0 7.0 6.7 6.6 Denmark -0.4 0.4 1.5 1.9 2.4 0.5 1.0 1.6 7.5 7.0 6.8 6.6 Croatia -1.9 -1.0 -0.6 0.7 3.4 2.3 0.8 1.2 15.9 17.2 18.0 18.0 Lithuania 3.7 3.3 3.3 3.7 3.2 1.2 1.0 1.8 13.4 11.8 10.6 9.7 Hungary -1.7 1.1 2.3 2.1 5.7 1.7 1.0 2.8 10.9 10.2 9.0 8.9 Poland 2.0 1.6 3.2 3.4 3.7 0.8 1.1 1.9 10.1 10.3 9.9 9.5 Romania 0.6 3.5 2.5 2.6 3.4 3.2 2.5 3.3 7.0 7.3 7.2 7.1 Sweden 0.9 1.5 2.8 3.0 0.9 0.4 0.5 1.5 8.0 8.0 7.6 7.2 United Kingdom 0.3 1.7 2.7 2.5 2.8 2.6 1.9 2.0 7.9 7.5 6.6 6.3 EU -0.4 0.1 1.6 2.0 2.6 1.5 1.0 1.5 10.4 10.8 10.5 10.1 USA 2.8 1.9 2.8 3.2 2.1 1.5 1.7 1.9 8.1 7.4 6.4 5.9 Japan 1.4 1.5 1.5 1.3 0.0 0.4 2.5 1.6 4.3 4.0 3.8 3.8 China 7.7 7.7 7.2 7.0 2.6 2.6 2.4 2.4 : : : : World 3.2 2.9 3.5 3.8 : : : : : : : : Real GDP Table 1: forecast Overview - the spring 2014 forecast Spring 2014 Spring 2014 forecast Inflation forecast Unemployment rate Spring 2014
  • 12. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 2 been trimmed slightly since the winter. HICP inflation in the EU and the euro area is now expected to run at 1.0% and 0.8% respectively in 2014 and at 1.5% and 1.2% in 2015. Global growth is increasingly being driven by the improvements in advanced economies, primarily the US, while emerging markets have been decelerating amid growing uncertainty. Looking ahead, barring further geopolitical tensions, global growth is expected to accelerate from 2.9% in 2013 to 3.5% in 2014 and 3.8% in 2015. After some renewed softness in the first half of the year, mostly due to poor weather in the US, growth in advanced economies including the EU is expected to almost double between 2013 and 2014. In the US, the recovery is expected to take hold, supported by a lower fiscal drag and highly accommodative monetary policies. In Japan, growth is expected to be sustained in 2014, but to slow in 2015 because of additional fiscal consolidation measures and waning monetary stimulus. The situation in emerging markets remains differentiated, reflecting divergent cyclical patterns and structural vulnerabilities. The outlook for Russia, where a slowdown was already underway, has markedly deteriorated since the start of the crisis over Ukraine. To a lesser extent, the growth forecast for China has also been cut as the rebalancing of the economy towards a more balanced growth composition is likely to entail slower, but more sustainable, growth. The recent weakness in world trade is expected to be temporary, as the recovery of trade-intensive sectors should cause trade to start expanding more rapidly than global output once again and add impetus to global growth. World import growth is set to accelerate from 2.2% in 2013 to 4.4% in 2014 and 5.7% in 2015, with much of the impetus coming from advanced economies. Strong demand from advanced economies also helped to keep Brent crude oil prices high throughout the winter but a significant rebound in prices is unlikely because supply remains sufficient and because of efficiency gains in oil consumption. According to futures markets, Brent oil prices are still expected to moderate over the forecast horizon though remaining at higher levels than assumed in February. The nominal exchange rate of the euro against main trading partners has appreciated slightly more than expected in the winter forecast. Looking ahead, the technical assumption is for the exchange rate to remain unchanged over the foreast horizon. In contrast to the sharp but short-lived upturn in 2010, the current recovery in the EU and euro area is more balanced regionally, as it involves also most of the vulnerable Member States. Real GDP growth in most EU countries is projected to be positive as of this year (with the exception of Cyprus and Croatia) and all Member States are expected to register positive growth next year. Substantial, but receding, differences in economic performance will remain. Among the largest economies, economic growth is expected to be sustained in Germany while the recovery is firming in Spain and slowly gathering pace in France and Italy. In the UK, growth is becoming firmly established. While during the crisis, the main positive contribution to economic activity in the EU and the euro area came from net exports, the recovery in most of the EU Member States is now becoming more self-sustained as domestic demand is firming up. The expansion of gross fixed capital formation, notably equipment investment, should increasingly benefit from improving sentiment and lower uncertainty, continued benign funding conditions, and an improved outlook …despite a slightly less favourable external environment The recovery is broadening… …and becoming more self-sustained
  • 13. Overview 3 for demand. However, investment growth in many countries will continue to be dampened by high corporate debt levels and balance sheet consolidation needs. Construction investment is set to resume, though at a slow pace, as housing markets in most Member States with pronounced corrections have bottomed out or are expected to do so over the next two years. The moderate recovery in private consumption is expected to gain momentum as confidence improves and disposable incomes rise as a result of mild labour market improvements, lower inflation and less fiscal drag. The recovery in private consumption should be more visible in 2015, once the improvements in labour market conditions, including both stronger net job creation and wage increases become more marked. Public consumption is expected to deliver a marginal contribution to growth. In the euro area as a whole, net trade's contribution to growth is set to fall over the forecast horizon as the strengthening of domestic demand will draw in imports. The Member States that had large current-account deficits in the run-up to the crisis are expected to register further improvements in price competitiveness. Nonetheless, their reliance on net trade is also expected to slightly reduce as domestic demand picks-up more swiftly than expected earlier on. After a temporary weakening amid the emerging market turmoil early this year, financial markets have seized on the relative strength of corporate earnings to rebound to the point where the positivity of market sentiment may be running ahead of economic fundamentals. Statements by main central banks indicating their intentions to keep policy rates low until the economic recovery is well entrenched have helped ease pressure on sovereign-bond yields in the US and the euro area. Spreads within the euro area have narrowed further, as investors have picked up bonds from vulnerable Member States in the low interest rate environment. Euro-area corporate-bond spreads have also narrowed further but falling inflation in the euro area means that real interest rates have increased. The benign financial market developments contrast with the still very weak bank lending. The euro area recovery has indeed so far remained largely creditless, with firms financing their investment internally or by issuing debt securities. The firming economic recovery and successful Asset Quality Review and stress test exercises should however herald an improvement in lending volumes over the forecast horizon. Following substantial fiscal consolidation in 2011-13, the fiscal policy stance is expected to be close to neutral in 2014. The deficit-to-GDP ratio is set to decrease further in both areas to around 2½% of GDP this year, as the recovery advances and additional deficit-reducing measures are being implemented by Member States. However, the fiscal effort, measured in terms of change of the structural balance, is expected to be broadly nil. The debt-to-GDP ratios of the EU and the euro area are expected to peak this year at 89.5% and 96.0% respectively, as continued improvement of primary surpluses, combined with stronger economic growth, are expected to put debt ratios on a downward path. Labour market conditions also started to improve in the course of 2013. With output growth accelerating only slowly, and given the usual lagged response of employment, little net job creation is expected in the short term. Private employment growth is also still dampened by the remaining scope for firms to adjust working hours, while public employment growth is set to remain Intra-euro-area rebalancing is progressing Despite benign financial conditions bank lending remains weak Fiscal consolidation is showing results Labour markets improve timidly…
  • 14. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 4 subdued. Employment growth in 2014 is expected to be limited, at 0.6% in the EU and 0.4% in the euro area, though slightly better than projected in winter. The unemployment rate is thus expected to decrease slightly in 2014 from its historical peak in 2013. In 2015, employment growth is set to accelerate to 0.7% in both areas, resulting in a further slight reduction of unemployment to around 10.1% in the EU and 11.4% in the euro area. Such a slow decline mirrors the gradual recovery but could also reflect a higher prevalence of structural unemployment than in the pre-crisis years. Large differences in labour market performance would persist although unemployment is set to decrease in a large majority of Member States. The current low level of inflation in the euro area and the EU is the result of both external factors, such as falling commodity prices and the euro’s rising exchange rate, and internal ones, such as the weak economic environment, macroeconomic adjustment in a number of Member States, and the expiration of temporary increases of taxes and administered prices. Inflation at the aggregate level is projected to remain low in the next quarters. In the near term, quarterly inflation rates in some Member States are set to temporarily fall to zero or even below that. Looking ahead, as the recovery progresses, inflation is set to gradually rise - as unemployment falls and excess capacity shrinks - although at a slow pace. Import prices are expected to only slightly pick up in 2015, and limited inflation pressures are expected from labour costs, as productivity growth is set to accelerate and wage growth to stabilise. While in the short run, low inflation can support GDP growth by increasing real disposable incomes, too prolonged a period of very low inflation increases the real value of both private and public debt and can raise real interest rates. It also makes the necessary relative price adjustment in the vulnerable Member States more challenging. Overall, risks to the growth outlook remain tilted to the downside. On the domestic side, as the recovery advances, the risk that reforms crucial to the recovery’s continuation and strengthening may be put off increases. Risks to the outlook for emerging market economies persist, especially for those most exposed to tighter financial conditions. Uncertainty has increased regarding China's growth prospects and possibly its financial stability. Tensions with Russia have increased geopolitical risks. Their impact will depend on the duration and gravity of the situation. HICP inflation could turn lower than envisaged in the central scenario, if labour market conditions and commodity prices turned out weaker than expected. However, the probability of outright deflation, defined as a generalised and self-enforcing fall in prices in the euro area as a whole, remains very low. Upside risks to growth identified in the winter forecast are still valid. Stronger growth in domestic demand could materialise if confidence increases further and credit conditions improve faster than expected. The substantial structural reforms that were undertaken in recent years may also lead to better-than-expected labour-market results, particularly in the vulnerable Member States. This would also lead to a faster normalisation of inflation. …and price pressures remain very low Downside risks remain
  • 15. PART I EA and EU outlook
  • 16. GROWTH BECOMING BROADER-BASED 7 1. RECOVERY IS SPREADING ACROSS THE EU After being hit by a double-dip recession since 2008, there are genuine signs that a more lasting recovery is now taking place in the EU and the euro area. The recovery, however, remains gradual, as the legacy of the economic and financial crisis – high levels of debt, unemployment, uncertainty and fragmentation – continues to weigh. Revisions to the winter 2014 forecast are minor for GDP growth, as the latest incoming data have continued to support the central scenario of a gradual recovery in the EU, gaining strength as well as broadening across countries over the forecast horizon. The current recovery is gradual and regionally balanced, involving also most of the vulnerable Member States (displayed in red in the following graphs of this section(1) . In the fourth quarter of 2013, only four EU Member States still registered (1) The euro-area countries that have been most exposed to financial market stress in the recent years, i.e. the three programme countries plus Italy, Ireland, Spain and Slovenia. Last year saw the EU and the euro area pulling out of recession with real GDP increasing in the last three quarters of the year. In the fourth quarter, real GDP grew by respectively 0.4% (q-o-q) in the EU and 0.2% in the euro area. Real GDP is expected to continue recovering over the forecast horizon in the EU and the euro area, with growth broadening across countries but also becoming more self-sustained as domestic demand strengthens. Economic growth continues to be dampened by high private and public debt, financial fragmentation, uncertainty and difficult adjustment, and it will take some more quarters before GDP is back to its pre-crisis level of 2008. Real GDP growth is projected to advance with moderate momentum in 2014, at 1.6% and 1.2% respectively in the EU and the euro area, before gaining some further speed in 2015, to 2.0% in the EU and 1.7% in the euro area. Labour market conditions have started to improve in the course of 2013, somewhat earlier than expected. After declining for almost two years, employment showed some timid signs of revival at the end of 2013, while unemployment rates have stopped increasing. Looking ahead, unemployment should start gradually trending downwards, but remain at historically high levels, with large differences among Member States. HICP inflation, which has been on a downward trend for several quarters, is expected to remain low for some time, reflecting the existing slack in the economy together with the ongoing competitiveness adjustment in a number of Member States. HICP inflation is expected to be 0.8% in the euro area in 2014 and 1.2% in 2015, and to stand at respectively 1.0% and 1.5% in the EU. Downside risks to the growth outlook remain, due to uncertainty stemming from the external environment which has increased lately. On the domestic side, a stalling or only partial implementation of structural, fiscal and institutional reforms at the EU and Member States levels could endanger the recovery. 90 95 100 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 GDP growth rate (lhs) GDP (quarterly), index (rhs) GDP (annual), index (rhs) Graph I.1:Real GDP, EU forecast q-o-q% index, 2007=100 3.2 0.4 -4.5 1.6 -0.4 Figures above horizontal bars are annual growth rates. 2.0 0.1 1.6 2.0 85 90 95 100 105 110 115 120 125 130 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 HICP inflation (annual rate) (lhs) HICP index (monthly) (rhs) HICP index (annual) (rhs) Graph I.2:HICP, EU forecast % index, 2005=100 2.4 3.7 1.0 2.1 3.1 2.6 1.0 2.3 1.5 1.5
  • 17. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 8 negative growth, compared to 15 a year earlier. Supported by diminishing uncertainty and rising business and consumer confidence, growth returned in the course of last year, albeit hesitantly in some cases, in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia and Ireland. In Italy, real GDP continued shrinking until the fourth quarter, when it managed to grow by 0.1%. The recovery in Spain was very timid in the second half of 2013, and in France it remains in its early stages. So far growth in the EU as a whole has been primarily pulled by the UK and Germany, also in line with their respective large weights in the EU aggregate. Economic expansion is set to continue in the EU Member States in the coming quarters and gain some strength as suggested by the latest readings of economic indicators. Cyclical indicators, notably the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), indeed picked-up strongly since last year and confirm that activity has swung back into expansionary territory in most countries, the rise being the strongest in the vulnerable euro-area Member States which suffered heavy output losses (see graph I.3). 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 45 50 55 60 IE DE ES NL EA FR IT EL Flash PMI Composite April 2014 (PMI Composite March 2014 for IE, ES, IT; PMI Manufacturing March: EL, NL) Change in the PMI level (2014Q1 vs. 2013Q1) level level Graph I.3:PMI Composite Output Index, euro area and selected Member States Recovery to strengthen in a large majority of EU countries … Real GDP in most EU countries is projected to continue recovering in 2014 and 2015. Although substantial differences in economic performance will remain, the recovery is projected to become more broad-based (see graph I.4). On average, over the forecast period, most of the Member States are expected to record annual growth rates of at least 1%, the only exceptions being Cyprus, Croatia, Finland and Italy. The median growth rate is 1.8% in 2014-15, much higher than the 0.3% of 2013. The highest average annual growth rates over the forecast period are expected in Latvia (2) , Lithuania and Poland. In 2015, growth in the vulnerable Member States is expected to approach the EU median for the first time since the start of the crisis. Real GDP is expected to rise above its 2008 level for the first time at the end of 2014 in the EU and, in the course of 2015 in the euro area. In some of the vulnerable countries, however, GDP will remain quite far below pre-crisis levels. -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 CY FI IT SI FR NL PT EA BE ES EL AT EU DE MT IE EE UK SK LU PL LT LV y-o-y% Graph I.4:Average growth rate of real GDP (2014-15), selected Member States … on the back of slowly converging growth drivers … The recovery in most EU Member States is becoming more self-sustaining as domestic demand gradually firms. The contribution of net trade to growth is expected to become almost nil in 2015, and domestic demand is set to emerge as the key growth driver. As domestic demand rises, so do imports, mechanically lowering net trade’s contribution. Private investment is expected to play a key role, supported by low interest rates and a revival of demand. Besides, private consumption is likely to regain some vigour as disposable income will be backed by some increase in wages, particularly in the countries where the unemployment rate is low (notably in Germany). In the vulnerable Member States, economic expansion will remain primarily driven by net exports in the coming quarters although domestic demand also started to strengthen in the second half of 2013. During the crisis years, net trade (2) See, Quarterly Report on the Euro Area, volume 13 N°1 (2014) "Latvia, maintaining sustainable growth after the boom-bust years".
  • 18. EA and EU outlook 9 prevented economic activity from tumbling while domestic demand shrunk sharply as a result of adjustments in the private and public sectors. (3) Over the forecast horizon, the reliance on net trade in these countries is expected to continue but to decline slightly (see graph I.5) as domestic demand gradually recovers. As confidence improves and easier financing conditions for sovereigns and banks slowly reaches borrowers, private investment and consumption should pick-up. Despite these positive developments, very high levels of private and public indebtedness and unemployment will continue to constrain borrowing capacities thereby limiting the potential of private and public demand. -2.0 -1.5 -1.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 Euro area Vulnerable countries (IE, EL, ES, IT, CY, PT, SI) Other euro area MS y-o-y% Graph I.5:Contribution of net exports to GDP growth forecast … while competitiveness gains continue in the vulnerable countries … The strong export performance of the vulnerable countries in recent years is mainly due to sharp improvements in price competitiveness as measured by nominal unit labour costs, and this pattern is expected to continue (see graph I.6). This is in turn mainly due to more moderate developments in compensation per employee in both the public and private sectors, since productivity improvements are projected to remain slow. Wage growth would continue to be subdued, as the impact of high unemployment and subsequent adjustment needs affect private wages and consolidation pressures weigh on public wages. It also reflects the impact of reforms, including those modifying the wage bargaining system. (3) The concomitant impact of deleveraging in the private and public sectors drained domestic demand, leaving major unused capacities in their wake. -4 -2 0 2 4 6 EL CY ES PT SI IE BE SK FR IT NL EA FI AT DE LU MT LV EE Compensation per employee Labour productivty (inverted scale) Unit labour cost % Graph I.6:Unit labour cost and components: Average annual growth over 2014-15, euro-area Member States … leading to a further increase in the euro- area current-account surplus. As export competitiveness continues to increase and domestic demand remains below unsustainable pre-crisis trends, the current account is expected to further improve in all vulnerable countries this year and next, albeit more slowly. This is in line with the need to further reduce the external vulnerabilities of those countries as they still have large negative net international positions. While the current-account balance is projected to improve for most euro-area countries over the forecast horizon, particularly sizeable improvements are now only expected for Cyprus, Luxembourg and Ireland. For Germany, Estonia, Latvia and Germany, marginal decreases are expected on average over 2014-15 compared to 2013. As the countries that recorded the largest surpluses at the onset of the crisis are projected to continue doing so, the current-account surplus of the euro area should stand at about 3% of GDP in 2015, up from a roughly balanced position in 2008. Most of the changes in current-account balances in the recent years have been due to non-cyclical factors. For instance, only about a quarter of Spain’s current-account adjustment is estimated to be due to the business cycle. At the current juncture, the cycle contributes to increases in the 2014 surplus (or reductions in the deficit) in most vulnerable, net debtor, economies, but also in Denmark, France and the Netherlands. In contrast, the current-account surpluses of Belgium, Germany, Ireland and Austria would be even
  • 19. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 10 higher than the headline figure, in cyclically- adjusted terms (see table I.1). (4) Table I.1: (% of GDP) 2007 2012 2013 2014 2015 2007 2012 2013 2014 2015 Belgium 3.9 -0.2 -0.3 0.3 -0.3 3.7 0.1 0.3 1.1 0.5 Germany 7.5 7.0 7.4 7.3 7.0 6.6 8.3 8.3 8.2 7.7 Estonia -15.7 -2.8 -1.8 -2.7 -2.8 -5.7 2.3 2.2 0.1 -0.4 Ireland -5.5 4.4 6.6 7.4 8.9 -3.7 6.4 7.9 8.3 9.9 Greece -17.6 -4.6 -2.4 -2.3 -2.2 -16.9 -9.9 -7.4 -5.7 -3.4 Spain -10.0 -1.2 0.8 1.4 1.5 -9.6 -3.9 -1.9 -0.9 -0.2 France -1.4 -2.1 -1.9 -1.8 -2.0 -0.9 -2.3 -2.2 -2.4 -2.7 Italy -1.3 -0.4 0.9 1.5 1.5 -1.0 -1.0 0.0 0.8 0.9 Cyprus -11.6 -7.0 -1.4 0.0 0.4 -11.2 -5.2 -1.4 -2.2 -1.2 Latvia -22.4 -2.5 -0.8 -1.3 -2.0 -14.1 -3.7 0.6 1.3 1.3 Luxembourg 10.1 5.8 5.2 6.4 5.0 12.7 2.1 4.9 7.5 7.3 Malta -4.0 1.1 0.6 0.3 1.0 -5.5 2.2 3.2 3.1 3.6 Netherlands 8.4 7.7 7.8 8.2 8.6 7.5 6.7 6.6 7.2 7.7 Austria 4.0 1.8 2.7 3.4 3.8 3.1 2.6 3.5 4.2 4.4 Portugal -10.2 -2.2 0.4 1.0 1.4 -10.8 -3.7 -1.0 0.3 1.2 Slovenia -4.6 3.1 5.3 6.0 6.2 -2.1 1.9 4.4 5.6 6.1 Slovakia -5.6 1.6 2.5 2.4 2.4 0.5 0.8 0.9 -0.1 -0.3 Finland 4.2 -1.4 -0.8 -0.4 -0.2 5.1 -1.6 -1.5 -1.2 -0.9 Euro area 0.4 1.8 2.6 2.9 2.9 Bulgaria -25.2 -0.9 1.9 1.0 0.2 -22.1 0.7 3.6 2.0 0.1 Czech Republic -5.1 -2.6 -1.2 -0.4 -0.2 -2.3 -3.2 -2.5 -1.2 -0.4 Denmark 1.4 6.0 7.3 6.9 6.8 2.0 3.6 5.2 4.8 4.7 Croatia -6.9 -0.4 0.5 1.5 1.6 -4.1 -0.9 0.1 0.2 0.0 Lithuania -15.0 -1.1 1.3 -0.8 -1.5 -9.4 -1.5 2.4 0.3 -0.8 Hungary -7.4 1.1 3.1 3.0 2.7 -7.3 -2.3 1.4 2.7 2.9 Poland -6.1 -3.4 -1.6 -1.7 -2.3 -6.0 -2.0 -0.9 -1.3 -2.3 Romania -13.6 -4.4 -1.1 -1.2 -1.6 -10.7 -5.6 -0.6 -0.6 -1.2 Sweden 8.6 6.5 6.6 6.1 6.0 8.3 6.6 6.7 6.3 6.2 United Kingdom -2.2 -3.8 -4.4 -3.8 -3.3 -2.0 -5.0 -4.8 -3.6 -2.8 EU -0.4 0.9 1.6 1.8 1.8 Source : European Commission estimates Cycl.-adj. current-account balanceCurrent-account balance Current-account and cyclically-adjusted current-account balances, EU Member States Significant negative output gaps are expected to remain at the end of the forecast horizon in the vulnerable countries (except Ireland), while some other euro-area countries, such as Germany, Austria and Luxembourg are set to record close to zero output gaps in 2015. The revision in the output gap estimates (see box I.1) implies an increase in the cyclical component of the current-account adjustment since 2007 in a number of Member States, though it is small for most economies. All in all, recent hard and soft indicators point to less divergent growth patterns across Member States. However, financial conditions and adjustment needs continue to differ, and in some Member States, exports will continue to provide the largest impetus to growth for some time. (4) The cyclically-adjusted current-account balance is the estimated balance if economic growth in both the economy concerned and its trading partners was at potential. The estimate relies on the output gap of a country relative to that of its trading partners. See 2014 Winter Forecast, box I.3 for more details on the methodology. 2. THE EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT The external environment has become less favourable than in the winter, as the outlook for some emerging markets economies has deteriorated, notably for Russia and to a lesser extent China reflecting recent data and events. Geopolitical risks are looming large. Global growth remained firm at the end of 2013, as world GDP expanded by 0.8% q-o-q in the fourth quarter (5) , down from 1.0% q-o-q in the third and second quarters. The contribution from advanced economies continued to strengthen, reaching close to 0.3 pp. in the fourth quarter, the most in almost four years, primarily driven by robust growth in the US and the nascent recovery in the EU. The early months of 2014 saw some renewed softness in global activity. This reflected a mix of temporary factors, such as poor seasonal weather in the US, and what may be more medium-term developments, such as a gradual slowdown in growth in China. Looking ahead, barring further geopolitical tensions, the underlying momentum of global growth is expected to remain solid over the forecast horizon, increasingly driven by the improving performance of advanced economies. Global GDP growth is expected to have reached 2.9% in 2013 and to accelerate to 3.5% in 2014 and 3.8% in 2015, with much of the impetus coming from advanced economies. -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 EU Non-EU advanced economies Emerging and developing countries World % Graph I.7:Contributions to World GDP growth from EU, non-EU advanced and emerging economies forecast Global trade growth to pick-up further After accelerating markedly in the second half of 2013, global trade has been anaemic in early 2014, (5) Provisional quarterly release based on data accounting for 90% of global GDP.
  • 20. EA and EU outlook 11 reflecting weaker activity in most parts of the world and a persistent pattern of subdued trade intensity of GDP growth. However, with global economic growth expected to rebound from its softer patch at the start of the year, global trade volumes are projected to pick-up as well and to accelerate faster than in 2013. Looking ahead, trade growth is set to increase, reflecting the gradual strengthening of the global recovery, led by advanced economies. Moreover, world trade is expected to resume expanding more rapidly than global output in 2014 and 2015 as trade-intensive sectors, such as investment spending, start providing a greater impetus to global growth. Total world import growth is set to accelerate more markedly to 4.4% in 2014 and 5.7% in 2015, after 2.2% in 2013. 30 40 50 60 -15 -10 -5 0 5 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 World trade volume, CPB data (lhs) Global PMI manufacturing (rhs) 3m-o-3m% balance Graph I.8:World trade and Global PMI manufacturing output Growth in advanced economies is strengthening … Output growth in advanced economies including the EU is forecast to almost double from 1.2% in 2013 to 2.2% in 2014 and to further accelerate to 2.5% in 2015 (see Table I.2). Among advanced economies outside the EU, activity has been gathering momentum, notably in the US, where a broad-based recovery is expected to take hold supported by a lower fiscal drag and the continuation of highly accommodative monetary policies. Private consumption is projected to firm thanks to an improving labour market and lower deleveraging pressures, while both business and residential investment are set to accelerate on the back of attractive financing conditions and improving business and consumer confidence. In Japan, the current level of growth is expected to be sustained in 2014, with some variability in the near term due to the hike in consumption taxes this April. In 2015, growth is projected to slow on the back of additional fiscal consolidation measures and waning monetary stimulus. … while emerging markets diverge and downside risks to activity have increased. The situation in emerging markets remains differentiated, reflecting different cyclical patterns as well as structural vulnerabilities. The financial turbulence in January 2014 implied sharp currency drops for a number of them and caused stock markets to fall. Financial market pressure subsequently abated, but tensions over the situation in Ukraine have added to global uncertainty. For Russia, where a slowdown was already underway, the outlook has markedly deteriorated since the start of the year, though the precise impact of recent political developments will depend on the duration and intensity of geopolitical tensions. The outlook for countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has also worsened amid renewed political tensions. China's economy continued to grow rapidly in 2013, at 7.7%, with investment recovering sharply from a low early in the year. However, GDP growth slowed again in the first three months of 2014, to 7.4% y-o-y. With recent extremely high rates of investment, the move of the economy towards a more balanced growth composition is likely to entail slower, but more sustainable, growth. Over the forecast horizon, growth is therefore projected to slow gradually to 7.2% in 2014 and 7.0% in 2015. In the short run, however, outcomes would depend significantly on the policy response to any sharp deterioration in activity. Concerns over financial stability also remain significant due to the build-up of credit in recent years. All in all, growth in emerging markets as a group is still expected to accelerate, but more gradually than assumed earlier, to 4.7% in 2014 and 5.1% in 2015, following growth of 4.6% in 2013. Commodity prices expected to moderate Brent crude oil prices remained elevated in the winter, at USD 107-108/bbl., sustained by the pick-up in demand in advanced economies. Replenishing of stocks in the EU and higher
  • 21. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 12 heating demand in the US may be temporary, but the surge in US demand may also reflect a structural shift towards more energy intensive sectors. Despite stronger demand from those regions, a significant rebound in oil prices is unlikely due to sufficient supply and efficiency gains in oil consumption. Escalation of geopolitical tensions is a risk factor. According to futures markets, Brent prices are assumed to be the following on average: USD 107.6/bbl. in 2014 and USD 102.9/bbl. in 2015 (see box I.5). The evolution of other commodity prices was mainly weak in 2013. Owing to an improved outlook for supply, food prices are expected to stay moderate in 2014. Prices of metals and raw materials declined in 2013. Metal prices are projected to fall further in 2014 due to abundant supply and weak demand conditions although a modest recovery is expected in 2015. 3. FINANCIAL MARKETS IN EUROPE Financial markets, globally and in the EU, have regained strength after the emerging market turmoil at the end of January. Markets found support in the statements of central banks in the US, the UK and the euro area to keep policy rates low until the economic recovery is well- entrenched. Moreover, incoming corporate earnings were in general strong. To some extent, however, the current positive market sentiment seems to be running ahead of economic fundamentals, notably in Europe. More recently, concerns about the Ukraine crisis have weighed on market sentiment, although contagion to the EU has been very limited. Monetary policy globally remains accommodative … The ECB in April kept its key policy rates unchanged at the record-low level of 0.25% that they have held since November 2013. Real short- term interest rates have however increased in recent months on the back of lower headline and expected inflation. At the same time, the Governing Council strengthened its forward guidance and unanimously committed "to using also unconventional instruments within its mandate," should the risks of a too prolonged period of low inflation become prominent. The ECB also signalled that, in assessing the outlook for price stability, it will closely monitor the possible implications of geopolitical risks and exchange rate developments. The ECB is pledging "to maintain a high degree of monetary accommodation and to act swiftly if required". In the US, the phasing out of unconventional monetary policy continued in March with the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) further tapering its monthly bond purchases to USD 55 bn. The US central bank also decided to shift from a threshold-based forward guidance to a qualitative forward guidance. US monetary policy is expected ( a ) 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2013 2014 2015 USA 19.5 2.5 1.8 2.8 1.9 2.8 3.2 1.9 2.9 3.2 Japan 5.5 4.7 -0.5 1.4 1.5 1.5 1.3 1.6 1.6 1.3 Asia (excl.Japan) 29.5 9.7 7.4 6.1 5.9 6.0 6.1 5.9 6.1 6.3 - China 14.7 10.4 9.3 7.7 7.7 7.2 7.0 7.7 7.4 7.4 - India 5.7 11.2 7.7 4.8 3.9 4.7 5.4 4.0 4.7 5.4 Latin America 8.7 6.0 4.5 3.0 2.6 2.9 3.4 2.6 3.1 3.4 - Brazil 2.8 7.5 2.7 1.0 2.3 2.6 2.9 2.2 2.3 2.9 MENA 5.3 3.4 1.8 3.6 2.2 3.1 3.7 2.4 3.6 3.8 CIS 4.2 4.9 4.8 3.4 2.0 1.2 2.6 1.9 2.8 3.1 - Russia 3.0 4.5 4.3 3.4 1.3 1.0 2.0 1.3 2.3 2.7 Sub-Saharan Africa 2.6 5.4 4.8 5.4 5.0 5.3 5.5 5.0 5.3 5.5 Candidate Countries 1.5 8.2 8.1 1.8 3.9 2.5 3.2 3.6 2.4 2.9 World (incl.EU) 100.0 5.1 3.8 3.2 2.9 3.5 3.8 2.9 3.6 3.9 World import growth 12.6 5.4 2.3 2.2 4.4 5.7 2.5 4.9 6.0 Extra EU export market growth 15.0 6.5 2.8 3.2 5.2 5.9 3.4 5.6 6.0 (a) Relative weights in %, based on GDP (at constant prices and PPS) in 2012. forecast Table I.2: International environment Real GDP growth Spring 2014 World merchandise trade volumes (Annual percentage change) forecast Winter 2014
  • 22. EA and EU outlook 13 to remain highly accommodative over the forecast horizon, as the FOMC anticipates that interest rates will remain near zero "for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends" at the end of this year. … which keeps downward pressure on sovereign-bond yields in the US and the euro area … Several factors contributed to the continuingly low level of benchmark bond yields (see graph I.9): somewhat disappointing macroeconomic data in the US, low inflation in the euro area, and the explicit commitment by central banks to keep policy rates low for as long as necessary. Sovereign-bond spreads in the euro area have meanwhile narrowed amid the ongoing adjustment of fiscal fundamentals and investors’ search for higher yields. The persistently low interest rate environment has continued to make some bonds an attractive carry trade. 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 12 13 14 UK US DE JP % Graph I.9:Benchmark 10-year government bonds Source: Bloomberg … while other market segments witnessed a rise in risk-taking and lower volatility. In the euro-area corporate bond markets, spreads narrowed further, particularly in the higher-yield segment (see graph I.10). European stocks have risen on the back of strong corporate earnings. Investors currently seem confident of further economic expansion, a smooth implementation of banking union, governments' commitments to structural reforms, and the sustained balance sheet repair of the banking sector. However, risks persist, particularly among EU sovereigns. The spread improvements enjoyed by countries with modest economic growth, high levels of public indebtedness, and in some cases, incomplete bank balance-sheet adjustment, are fragile. 50 100 150 200 250 300 12 13 14 BBB A AA bps Graph I.10:Corporate bond spreads, euro area (5-year maturity) Source: Bloomberg The European banking sector is under intense scrutiny this year … European banks are undergoing an Asset Quality Review (AQR) and an EU-wide stress test before the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) will start operating in November 2014. Although euro- area banks have improved their solvency positions and turned to more stable funding sources, profitability remains poor because of narrow interest margins on the stocks of assets. It is particularly a problem in countries facing a combination of poor credit quality, high private sector indebtedness, high unemployment and subdued economic growth. Investors remain cautious on European banks, pricing them on average below book value. Although poor valuation may relate to subdued profitability prospects for euro-area banks, it also relates to investor uncertainty over the quality of banks' assets. This caution applies also to the market funding for a number of mid-sized and smaller euro-area banks in vulnerable countries. While market funding has improved overall, some banks still find it difficult or too expensive to obtain medium- and longer-term funding. … and bank lending remains weak. The latest bank lending data confirm that the euro area’s recovery has so far remained largely creditless. Credit flows to the private sector shrank over the past few months (-2% y-o-y in February in the euro area once adjusted for sales and securitisation) on the back of still extremely weak lending volumes to non-financial corporates (NFCs). However, net issuance of long-term debt securities by non-financial corporations have remained buoyant (+10% y-o-y in February in the
  • 23. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 14 euro area), partly offsetting the weakness in bank lending. While larger corporations have continued their transition towards market financing, those that are more dependent on banks, particularly SMEs, have seen their external funding decrease. The current weakness in bank lending is influenced by both supply and demand factors. At the same time, weak credit demand can still be partly explained by the current cyclical position, as credit to business tends to lag the business cycle and internal funding plays a relatively large role in the first stages of economic recoveries. More structural factors, such as high corporate indebtedness and the need to deleverage also dampen credit demand and may continue to do so for a longer period of time. Bank lending conditions, although improving slightly, are expected to remain highly fragmented, in contrast to other market segments, such as the sovereign- and corporate-debt markets (see graph I.11), where fragmentation has declined significantly. Regulatory uncertainties and banks' efforts to advance with balance-sheet adjustments ahead of the AQR and the stress test have likely contributed to the limited supply of credit in some countries. However, a successful AQR and stress test could be instrumental in overcoming credit supply constraints, with positive impact on loans growth also in the vulnerable countries where financial fragmentation is still elevated. Survey data also convey a somewhat more positive message than data on lending volumes and interest rates. Since the beginning of 2014, banks have started to predict an end to the net tightening of credit standards on loans to NFCs, further easing for loans to households and a pick-up in loan demand. 1.5 2.5 3.5 4.5 5.5 6.5 7.5 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 % Graph I.11: Interest rates on loans to enterprises (new businesses, maturity up to 1 year) FR DE IT ES EL PT IE All in all, the more upbeat survey-based signals and the firming economic recovery could herald an improvement in lending volumes. However, the amplitude of the expected recovery of credit may be smaller than in previous credit cycles. (see box I.2). 4. GDP AND COMPONENTS The recovery of GDP is gradually broadening … Last year saw the EU and the euro area pulling out of recession with real GDP increasing from the second quarter on. Although in the fourth quarter, real GDP in the EU was 1.1% higher than in the first quarter, respectively 0.7% for the euro area, due to a large negative carry-over from 2012 the resumption of growth was somewhat masked in the 2013 annual GDP growth rates that stood at 0.1% in the EU and -0.4% in the euro area. Full recovery from the Great Recession of 2008/2009 is also still some time away in both areas. Compared to the pre-crisis peak of the first quarter of 2008, real GDP in EU and in the euro area was still 1.7% and 2.0% lower in the fourth quarter of 2013. Real GDP in both areas is likely to return to pre-crisis levels by end 2014 at the earliest, a duration in keeping with the experience of similar deep financial crises. Domestic demand became an increasingly important source of growth in 2013. While net exports were the main driver of the EU and euro area’s revival in the second quarter, it was the rise in total investment that led domestic demand and GDP growth in the third. Gross fixed capital formation gathered pace in the fourth quarter, while private consumption continued to expand marginally. Changes in inventories were a substantial drag on growth in the fourth quarter, arguably mirroring the strong positive contribution of net trade and cancelling it out. (6) (6) A strong negative correlation is regularly observed between net trade and inventories, broadly reflecting the mechanical impact of export and import flows on inventories when goods cross borders. Thus, the acceleration in trade flows results in net trade contributions to growth that are partly offset by changes in inventories.
  • 24. EA and EU outlook 15 … with subdued growth continuing in the short term, before gathering pace. The economic recovery is expected to continue this year, slowly gathering pace. In the first quarter, GDP should grow in the EU and the euro area, at respectively 0.4% q-o-q and 0.3%, in line with the latest positive signals from economic indicators. In recent months, business indicators have increased further, stabilising above their long-term levels. In the first quarter of this year, confidence rose in the services and retail sectors as well as for consumers. By contrast, industrial confidence remained almost stable, at a level mildly above average suggesting a gradual recovery. The euro area Flash Composite PMI index showed a more optimistic picture, signalling the highest rate of expansion in almost three years in April (see graph I.12). These mixed signals underpin the expectation that the recovery should continue to be uneven in the short term. As domestic demand expands and global growth strengthens, GDP is forecast to rise by 1.6% in the EU and 1.2% in the euro area this year. While stronger global growth should support exports and thereby economic activity, domestic demand will increasingly take centre stage as the legacy of the financial and economic crisis fades. The expansion of gross fixed capital formation should benefit from improving sentiment and lower uncertainty, further normalising funding conditions, and an improved outlook for demand. Private consumption is expected to gain some momentum as labour markets stabilise and real disposable incomes increase in a context of low inflation. Progress with fiscal consolidation should also allow public consumption to deliver a marginally positive contribution to growth after contracting in 2011 and 2012 and expanding only modestly in 2013. 30 40 50 60 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 Economic Sentiment Indicator (lhs) PMI Composite Output Index (rhs) 3-month moving average (ma) 3-month ma Graph I.12:Economic Sentiment Indicator and PMI Composite Output Index, EU A further acceleration of GDP growth is expected in 2015, to 2.0% in the EU and 1.7% in the euro area. The expansion is expected to remain powered by domestic demand as gross fixed capital formation grows more strongly and private 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 bn Euro Curr. prices % GDP 7797.0 58.4 0.4 -1.6 1.1 0.3 -0.7 0.0 1.2 1.6 2873.2 21.6 2.3 2.2 0.6 -0.2 -0.2 0.4 0.7 0.6 2375.4 17.9 -1.4 -13.4 -0.2 1.6 -2.9 -2.3 3.1 4.7 23.7 0.2 0.7 -0.6 0.2 0.7 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 5829.4 44.9 1.5 -11.7 11.0 6.5 2.4 1.6 4.0 5.1 18774.2 143.1 0.6 -6.6 4.0 2.4 -0.3 0.2 2.2 2.9 5582.9 43.0 1.1 -11.5 9.8 4.4 -0.2 0.4 3.7 5.2 12959.9 100.0 0.4 -4.5 2.0 1.6 -0.4 0.1 1.6 2.0 12965.2 100.0 0.2 -4.4 2.1 1.7 -0.5 0.0 1.5 1.9 9601.3 71.5 0.4 -4.5 1.9 1.6 -0.7 -0.4 1.2 1.7 0.2 -0.9 0.6 0.2 -0.4 0.0 0.7 0.9 0.5 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.1 -0.3 -2.8 0.0 0.3 -0.5 -0.4 0.5 0.8 -0.2 -1.2 0.8 0.3 -0.5 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.6 -4.7 3.9 2.6 1.0 0.7 1.7 2.3 0.8 -9.2 5.3 3.3 -0.5 0.3 3.1 4.1 -0.4 4.6 -3.4 -1.7 0.1 -0.2 -1.5 -2.2 0.2 -0.1 0.5 0.9 1.1 0.5 0.2 0.1 Gross fixed capital formation (Real annual percentage change) 2012 Final demand GDP Public consumption Change in stocks as % of GDP Imports (minus) GNI Investment Exports of goods and services Table I.3: Contribution to change in GDP Private consumption Spring 2014 Net exports p.m. GDP euro area Final demand Inventories forecast Composition of growth - EU Public consumption Real percentage change Imports of goods and services Exports Private consumption
  • 25. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 16 consumption gains from slightly improving labour market conditions (see graph I.13). The benefits of structural reforms are also expected to have a positive effect on developments in 2015. -5.5 -4.5 -3.5 -2.5 -1.5 -0.5 0.5 1.5 2.5 3.5 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 Private consumption Government consumption Investment Inventories Net exports forecast pps. Graph I.13:Real GDP growth and its components, EU Gross fixed capital formation is gaining momentum … Investment has shrunk sharply since its peak in 2008 and this has contributed significantly to the decline in GDP since then. In 2013, with uncertainty diminishing gradually, a brighter growth outlook and more favourable financing conditions in many parts of the EU, the foundations were laid for a recovery in investment (see graph I.14). The importance of these factors can be seen in the timid but strengthening rebound in investment, which is a key factor behind the ongoing recovery, adding up to 0.2 pp. to GDP growth in the past three quarters. However, due to earlier substantial declines, the annual growth rate remained markedly negative in 2013 for the EU (-2.3%) and the euro area (-2.9%). 17 18 19 20 21 22 -0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 95 00 05 10 15 Graph I.14: Investment accelerator, EU Real GDP growth (5y moving avg) Total investment (rhs) forecast % % of GDP … helped by increasing demand and diminishing uncertainty. A further acceleration in gross fixed capital formation, notably in equipment investment is expected in the short term, as suggested by the latest indicators. This is notably supported by the positive assessment of export order books in EU 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 bn Euro Curr. prices % GDP 5456.1 57.5 0.4 -1.0 1.0 0.3 -1.3 -0.7 0.8 1.3 2036.2 21.5 2.3 2.6 0.6 -0.1 -0.6 0.2 0.7 0.5 1740.9 18.4 -1.4 -12.8 -0.4 1.6 -4.0 -2.9 2.3 4.2 10.2 0.1 0.7 -0.6 0.2 0.6 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 4246.0 45.9 1.1 -12.4 11.6 6.5 2.5 1.4 4.0 5.3 13369.0 143.3 0.5 -6.4 3.9 2.4 -0.8 -0.2 2.0 2.8 4000.2 43.3 0.8 -11.0 10.0 4.5 -0.9 0.2 3.8 5.5 9505.5 100.0 0.4 -4.5 1.9 1.6 -0.7 -0.4 1.2 1.7 9539.3 100.4 -0.2 -4.1 2.2 1.5 -0.5 -0.4 1.2 1.7 13067.6 132.0 0.4 -4.5 2.0 1.6 -0.4 0.1 1.6 2.0 0.2 -0.6 0.6 0.2 -0.8 -0.4 0.5 0.8 0.5 0.5 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1 -0.3 -2.8 -0.1 0.3 -0.8 -0.5 0.4 0.8 -0.1 -1.0 0.6 0.3 -0.5 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.4 -5.1 4.2 2.6 1.1 0.6 1.8 2.4 0.7 -8.9 5.2 3.3 -1.1 -0.3 2.8 4.0 0.3 -4.4 3.5 1.8 -0.4 0.1 1.6 2.3 0.1 -0.7 0.7 0.9 1.5 0.5 0.3 0.1 (Real annual percentage change) 2012 Final demand GDP Public consumption Change in stocks as % of GDP Imports (minus) GNI Investment Exports of goods and services Table I.4: Contribution to change in GDP Private consumption Spring 2014 Net exports p.m. GDP EU Final demand Inventories forecast Composition of growth - euro area Public consumption Real percentage change Imports of goods and services Exports Private consumption Gross fixed capital formation
  • 26. EA and EU outlook 17 and euro area industry, which clearly exceed their long-term levels. Production expectations and confidence indicators from the Commission’s manufacturing survey have also increased above their long-term averages and capacity utilisation rates have started to move up moderately, although they remain at low levels (see graph I.15). 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 -24 -20 -16 -12 -8 -4 0 4 8 12 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 %% Equipment investment (y-o-y%, lhs) Equipment investment, annual growth, forecast (lhs) Capacity utilisation rate (rhs) forecast Graph I.15:Equipment investment and capacity utilisation, EU Investment growth should accelerate over the forecast horizon as domestic demand picks up and uncertainty further abates. Improved financing conditions should support equipment investment, as will the continued availability of internal funding, which should grow as margins and profits improve along with the economy. In addition, the replacement of ageing capital stocks following years of sharp investment declines, should more than offset the ongoing process of production offshoring. However, investment growth will continue to be dampened by high corporate debt levels and balance sheet consolidation needs in many countries, as well as the rise in real interest rates caused by recent disinflation. All in all, in 2014, equipment investment is expected to grow by 4.9% in the EU and by 4.7% in the euro area, accelerating to around 6½% in both areas in 2015, still below pre-crisis levels. Construction investment is set to resume expanding in 2014 and to accelerate in 2015. Housing market adjustment is expected to provide less drag (see box I.3) but disposable income growth is expected to remain limited. A strong decline in construction investment is still expected for Cyprus and Spain in 2014. Public investment is expected to remain rather subdued on average over the forecast years, stabilising in the EU and contracting in the euro area, because governments still need to shore up their finances. Overall, in 2015, total gross fixed capital formation is set to increase by 4.7% in the EU and by 4.2% in the euro area, mainly supported by the pick-up in equipment investment. Inventories: any support to growth in the current recovery? The modest pick-up in growth in the EU since spring 2013 may have impacted on the levels of companies' inventories. The rebound brought not only the end of destocking (7) , which was observed in the first half of 2013 when inventories were kept almost unchanged, but also the build-up of inventories, notably in the third quarter. Further out, the decline in inventories throughout the latest recession provides scope for some restocking ahead in line with a standard inventory cycle. Survey-based information on the assessment of stocks levels, such as in the Commission surveys and the PMI also support this interpretation but still need to be confirmed by hard data. Only marginal private consumption dynamics at the onset of the recovery … Private consumption has also started to recover very modestly, increasing at an average quarterly rate of 0.1% in the EU and euro area over the last three quarters of 2013. The improvement was broad-based across countries, with consumption also returning to positive territory in vulnerable countries such as Spain and Portugal, after several quarters of sharp falls. In the EU, the resumption of growth over the course of 2013 offsets the negative carry-over from 2012 to end up with a flat annual development (0.0%), while in the euro area, the annual growth rate remained negative (-0.7%) but much less so than in 2012. The subdued private consumption dynamics in 2013 mirrored the squeeze in real gross disposable incomes, linked to muted labour market developments. More precisely, nominal compensation of employees grew only marginally in the EU and the euro area on the back of moderate rises in compensation per employee (1.7% in both areas) and shrinking employment (-0.4% and -0.9% respectively). Besides, non- labour incomes increased only slightly and private wealth was constrained by still weak housing markets. Tight borrowing constraints and low liquidity forced households to cut back on consumption, particularly in countries with highly leveraged households. At the same time, (7) In terms of contribution to GDP growth.
  • 27. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 18 households’ saving rates remained unchanged at around 11% in the EU and 13% in the euro area in 2013. Increased precautionary savings in a context of still elevated uncertainty might have offset the negative impact of lower interest rates on savings. … to be followed by a stronger expansion as the recovery takes ground. Private consumption is set to continue growing moderately in the coming quarters. Short-term indicators support this outlook. The consumer and retail trade confidence indicators from the Commission survey notably increased steadily for the last year, and were well above their long-term averages in March (see graph I.16). Yet, households' intentions to make major purchases stayed below their long-term averages, suggesting that consumers are still cautious. -35 -30 -25 -20 -15 -10 -5 0 5 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 balancey-o-y % Private consumption (lhs) Private consumption, forecast (annual data, lhs) Consumer confidence (rhs) forecast Graph I.16:Private consumption and consumer confidence, EU Over the forecast horizon, private consumption is expected to gain some momentum from rising real disposable incomes, being the result of slightly improving labour market conditions, lower inflation, in particular in 2014, as well as a diminishing fiscal drag. However, many constraining factors remain in place preventing a marked pick-up in household spending. Deleveraging has not been completed yet and households in several countries still face credit constraints, a problem that is reflected in high levels of non-performing loans. Despite high unemployment, the saving rate is expected to decline in 2014 at the EU and the euro levels as households dip somewhat into their savings to sustain spending behaviours. The saving rate of households would broadly stabilise in 2015 in both areas. Overall, private consumption this year is expected to rebound only slightly by 1.2% in the EU and 0.8% in the euro area. In 2015, with labour market conditions starting to improve more markedly, including both stronger job creation and increase in wages as unemployment diminishes, private consumption should accelerate to 1.6% in the EU and 1.3% in the euro area. Public consumption to deliver a limited but positive contribution to growth Following the years 2011 and 2012 that were dominated by major fiscal consolidation government consumption resumed expansion in 2013 in both the EU (0.4%) and the euro area (0.2%). Looking at the components of government consumption, expenditure related to compensation of employees declined in real terms, in comparison to social transfers, which account for about half of public expenditure and which increased relatively strongly by about 2½%. As the need for fiscal consolidation diminishes, about half of the Member States, including five of the seven largest, should be able to expand general government consumption, at least moderately more than in 2013. However, declines in public consumption are still expected in Ireland, Greece, Spain, Cyprus, and Portugal throughout the forecast horizon. All in all, at the aggregate level, government consumption is set to continue growing in 2014 by 0.7% in both the EU and the euro area. In 2015, under the no-policy-change assumption, a similar moderate increase in both areas is expected. The recovery has so far been mostly export-led … Over the course of 2013, net trade lifted growth by 0.5 pp. in both the EU and the euro area, while domestic demand (excluding inventories) continued to act as a strong drag. Looking at quarterly developments within the year, this picture remains broadly valid, indicating that the recovery has so far been mostly export-led. Exports grew relatively strongly, particularly in the fourth quarter. Despite the high volatility in export figures, it seems that the ongoing appreciation of the euro was more than offset by competitiveness gains and the pick-up in external demand, notably led by the US economy. Import growth was much lower over the year, despite the revival of domestic demand, so net trade growth was positive.
  • 28. EA and EU outlook 19 … but the contribution of net exports should lessen going forward. In the short term, further export growth is expected from increasing foreign demand for EU products. In fact, manufacturing export order books from the Commission's surveys have markedly improved, and remained above their long-term average in March in both areas (see graph I.17). EU exports are expected to increase 4.0% in 2014 and 5.1% in 2015, whereas euro area exports are expected to rise slightly faster, by 4.0% and 5.3% over the same time periods. 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 -12 -8 -4 0 4 8 12 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 % Graph I.17: Global demand, EU exports and new export orders Exports (q-o-q%, lhs) Exports forecast (annual data, y-o-y%, lhs) Output index (Global PMI composite, rhs) New export orders (PMI Manuf., EU, rhs) 3-month moving average forecast A similar acceleration is expected for import growth, which should go up markedly in 2014 and 2015 to about 3¾% and about 5½% respectively in both areas, as domestic investment, which tends to be relatively import-intensive compared to consumption, spurs domestic demand growth. The contribution of net exports is expected to diminish over time from ½ pp. in 2013 to ¼ pp. in 2014 and further to 0.1 pp. in 2015 in both areas. 5. LABOUR MARKET CONDITIONS Labour market conditions started to improve in 2013, albeit from a particularly bad situation. After declining for almost two years, employment (i.e. the number of persons employed) increased slightly in the fourth quarter of 2013, by 0.1% (q-o-q) in both the EU and the euro area, while unemployment rates stopped increasing in early 2013. Labour market conditions stopped deteriorating in 2013 … The unemployment rate began to stabilise in early 2013 in the euro area, at a peak level of close to 12%. In the EU, the unemployment rate started to fall from its peak of 10.9% and reached 10.6% in February 2014, still a very high level. The youth unemployment rate has also started to decline. In February 2014, it fell to 22.9% in the EU and 23.5% in the euro area, respectively 0.7 pp. and 0.5 pp. lower than a year earlier. Though youth unemployment reacts particularly strongly to the economic cycle (8) , this recent decline should not be interpreted too positively as it also reflects some discouragements effects. The timid improvement in net job creation at the end of 2013 does not make itself felt in the annual figures and employment fell by 0.4% in the EU (-0.9% in the euro area) in 2013. In both zones, labour shedding was concentrated in the industry and construction sectors while net job creation picked up in the service sector in the EU. At the end of 2013, aggregate employment in the EU, remained six million below its 2008 level, and its recovery is set to be protracted. … and the reallocation of resources from the non-tradable to the tradable sector is ongoing. In the vulnerable countries, where unemployment has surged in recent years, there are some signs of improvement in the labour market. Over the course of 2013, employment in the tradable sector seems to have stopped declining, notably in Spain and Portugal, while in Ireland, net job creation even resumed. This means that the resources are being reallocated to the most productive sectors of the economy. In fact, employment in the non-tradable sector has continued to fall in parallel in Spain and Portugal, particularly in the construction sector, even if the speed of contraction has decelerated. In Ireland, the shrinking of employment in the non- tradable sector seems over, as employment is also growing there, including in construction. Overall, the reallocation of resources from the non-tradable to the tradable sectors should continue over the forecast horizon, but will likely remain gradual given the economic growth remains weak. (8) See Labour market developments in Europe, 2013, box in "youth unemployment, some basic facts", European Economy 6/2013.
  • 29. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 20 Continued slow improvements are expected in 2014-15 With output growth accelerating only slowly, and given the usual lagged response of employment to output fluctuations, little net job creation is expected in the short term. Most survey measures of hiring intentions have continued to increase in recent months but remain at low levels (see graph I.18). In industry and services, employment expectations in the EU and euro area exceeded their long-term averages in March, but they remain below in the construction sector. Consumers' unemployment fears have continued falling in recent months. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70-50 -40 -30 -20 -10 0 10 20 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 Employment exp. in industry, next 3 months (lhs) Employment exp. in services, next 3 months (lhs) Consumers' unempl. exp., next 12 months (inverted, rhs) Graph I.18:Employment expectations, DG ECFIN surveys, EU level level Employment growth in 2014 is expected to remain subdued, at 0.6% in the EU and 0.4% in the euro area. It is projected to accelerate to 0.7% in both areas in 2015 (see table I.5). Private employment growth will remain dampened by the remaining scope of firms to increase employees' working hours, which are still slightly below their pre-crisis level, before hiring new staff. Moreover, the still limited access to funding for SMEs in some countries could also have a negative impact on their hiring decisions; and those firms usually have a leading role in employment creation. In line with the projections for slow growth of public consumption (section 4), public employment growth, especially in the euro area, is set to remain subdued. The labour force in the EU and the euro area is estimated to grow moderately in 2014-15 as in 2013, mirroring the evolution of the working age population. Cross-country differences are expected to remain significant, with the labour force growing strongly in some countries and declining sharply in some others, notably reflecting diverging migration flows in line with different labour market conditions. Labour productivity (output per person employed) is expected to increase gradually over the forecast horizon, as is usually the case in the first phases of a recovery, to respectively 1.2% and 1.0% in the EU and the euro area in 2015. Unemployment is set to decline further but remain high … The unemployment rate is expected to decrease slightly in 2014 to 11.8% in the euro area, and 10.5% in the EU, after reaching historical peaks in 2013 of 12.0% and 10.8% respectively. In 2015, the unemployment rate is expected to further decline in line with the pick-up in employment, to 11.4% in the euro area and 10.1% in the EU, but to remain at very high levels (see graph I.19). The slow decline reflects the fragility of the recovery and probably a higher prevalence of structural unemployment than in the pre-crisis years. There are concerns that long-term unemployment will have a long-lasting impact on skills and future employability, particularly for youth. Growing skills and sector mismatches have also been identified as drivers of structural unemployment. Those concerns are mirrored by (Annual percentage change) 2012 2013 2014 2015 2013 2014 2015 2012 2013 2014 2015 2013 2014 2015 Population of working age (15-64) 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 Labour force 0.7 -0.1 0.1 0.2 -0.1 -0.1 0.3 0.7 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.1 0.0 0.4 Employment -0.8 -0.9 0.4 0.7 -0.9 0.3 0.7 -0.3 -0.4 0.6 0.7 -0.4 0.5 0.7 Employment (change in million) -0.6 -0.9 0.3 0.7 -0.8 0.2 0.7 -0.2 -0.4 0.5 0.7 -0.4 0.4 0.7 Unemployment (levels in millions) 18.1 19.1 18.9 18.2 19.3 19.2 18.6 25.4 26.4 25.7 24.8 26.6 26.1 25.4 Unemployment rate (% of labour force) 11.3 12.0 11.8 11.4 12.1 12.0 11.7 10.4 10.8 10.5 10.1 10.9 10.7 10.4 Labour productivity, whole economy 0.2 0.5 0.9 1.0 0.5 0.9 1.0 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.2 0.5 1.0 1.2 Employment rate (a) 58.3 57.8 57.9 58.3 57.8 58.0 58.4 58.4 58.1 58.3 58.7 58.1 58.3 58.6 (a) As a percentage of population of working age. Definition according to structural indicators. See also note 6 in the Statistical Annex Winter 2014 Table I.5: forecast Labour market outlook - euro area and EU EUEuro area Winter 2014 forecast
  • 30. EA and EU outlook 21 the rise in the Non Accelerating Wage Rate of Unemployment (NAWRU) which is the level of unemployment associated with stable wages. According to Commission estimates, this rate has increased substantially since 2008 and will continue to rise slightly over the forecast horizon. Even when removing the cyclical component of the NAWRU, research shows that structural unemployment has been on the rise in recent years (see box I.4). 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 -1.0 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 Employment (q-o-q%, lhs), forecast (y-o-y%, lhs) Unemployment rate (rhs), forecast (rhs) % % of the labour force forecast Forecast figures are annual data. Graph I.19:Employment growth and unemployment rate, EU … with tiny improvements in most Member States. While GDP growth differentials across EU Member states are expected to narrow over the forecast horizon, large differences in labour market performances, which sharply increased during the crisis years, are expected to persist (see graph I.20), although unemployment is set to start decreasing in the large majority of Member States. Unemployment rates are expected to range from 4.7% in Austria to 24.0% in Spain and Greece in 2015. 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 Unemployment rate Coefficient of variation (rhs) Graph I.20:Average unemployment level and dispersion in the euro area % forecast 6. INFLATION DEVELOPMENTS Annual consumer-price inflation in the EU and the euro area has fallen below 1% in the last quarter of 2013. The first quarter of 2014 witnessed a further decline to 0.6% in the euro area and 0.8% in the EU, with headline inflation in the euro area falling to a mere 0.5% in March (see graph I.21). Notwithstanding the general low-inflation environment, the March decline in prices can be partly attributed to statistical base effects linked to the timing of Easter in 2013. (9) Compared to the winter, HICP inflation in the euro area and the EU was revised slightly down, by 0.2 pp. in 2014 and the forecast remained broadly unchanged for 2015. Inflation bottoming out Low inflation in the euro area and the EU over the latest months appears to be the result of five main factors: a downward trend in commodity price inflation causing disinflation at a global scale, the appreciation of the euro, persistently large economic slack, competitiveness gains in vulnerable Member States only partly compensated by relatively higher inflation in the core, and the expiration of temporary increases in inflation due to past fiscal consolidation measures (mostly hikes in indirect taxes and administered prices). -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 % Energy and unprocessed food [pps.] Other components (core inflation) [pps.] HICP, all items forecast Graph I.21:Inflation breakdown, EU Core inflation (i.e. HICP inflation excluding energy and unprocessed food) declined steadily in the euro area from 1.5% in the first quarter of 2013 to 1.0% in the first quarter of 2014 (from 1.7% to 1.1% in the EU). This decline reflects historically (9) In 2014, Easter was in April, whereas it was in March in 2013. The timing of Easter usually induces a seasonal increase in prices for travel, package holidays and other tourism services.
  • 31. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 22 low services price inflation, owing to weak euro- area demand and contained price pressures from labour cost, and a substantial drop in non-energy industrial goods inflation, reflecting additionally declining import prices. Very low external and pipeline price pressures The appreciation of the euro, combined with decreases in global commodity price inflation, has driven external price pressures substantially down in 2013. (10) Import prices (measured by the deflator of imports of goods) fell by 1¾% in the EU and by close to 2% in the euro area and should continue declining in 2014, given the still weak domestic demand and the assumed paths of commodity prices and exchange rates. In 2015, with the expected stronger pick-up in global demand, import-price inflation is forecast to accelerate somewhat to 0.8% in both the EU and the euro area. Price pressures on the side of producers have also diminished substantially over 2013, with annual producer price inflation falling by 1.7% in February 2014, driven by marked falls of prices in the energy and intermediate goods sectors. However, sale prices continued to increase in the final stages of the production chain (notably in non-durable consumer goods), suggesting some increase in margins. Assuming a partial pass- through of producer prices to consumer prices, this foreshadows continuing low inflationary pressures in the months ahead. Price pressures from labour costs set to be limited amid weak labour markets The slack in the labour market (see previous section) and the necessary competitiveness adjustment in many Member States are exerting an important downside strain on wage developments. Compensation per employee in the EU and the euro area slowed to 1.7% in 2013, outpacing productivity growth but, leading nevertheless to low labour cost growth of 1.2% in the EU (1.1%. in the euro area). As productivity growth is set to accelerate within the forecast horizon and wage growth to stabilise, unit labour cost growth is expected to decelerate even further, implying on average limited inflation pressures from labour (10) Commission estimations suggest that the increase in the euro's nominal effective exchange rate by some 6% over the past year has an impact of around -0.3 pp. on the euro- area HICP inflation. costs. As the cyclical situation and institutional setup in labour markets differs substantially across Member States, price pressures will differ accordingly. Sustained period of low inflation ahead Economic agents' expectations as to future price developments play a major role in their price- setting and wage-bargaining behaviour, thus in explaining overall HICP inflation. (11) These expectations may be influenced by current low readings of headline inflation. Short- and medium-term inflation expectations continued their downward trend in early 2014, signalling low but positive inflation developments in the years ahead. Inflation-linked swap rates at the one-year-forward-one-year-ahead horizon dropped slightly below 1% in March. At the three- years-forward-three-years-ahead horizon, they would currently imply an average inflation rate of 1.6% (taken at face value). Consumers' inflation expectations also trended downwards, reaching the lowest level in three and a half years in March, and continuing to indicate low inflation in the short term. Long-term inflation expectations based on inflation-linked swap rates (five-years-forward- five-years-ahead) remain well-anchored, although they declined very slightly to 2.1% in March (see graph I.22). -1 0 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 % Maturity date Graph I.22: Inflation expectations derived from implied forward inflation-linked swap rates 5 years forward 5 years ahead 3 years forward 3 years ahead 1 year forward 1 year ahead 1-year Source: Bloomberg Looking ahead, as the recovery progresses, inflation is set to gradually rise, although at a slow pace. Reflecting the remaining slack in the economy and low external price pressures, (11) For more details on the increasing impact of inflation expectations on price developments, see box 1.4 in European Economy no. 2, European Economic Forecast Winter 2014 'Analysing current disinflationary trends in the euro area'.
  • 32. EA and EU outlook 23 inflation is set to rise very progressively in the EU, from 0.8% in the first quarter of 2014 to 1.2% in the fourth quarter of the same year, before reaching 1.5% in the final quarter of 2015. In the euro area, the quarterly profile would be for the respective quarters 0.6%, 1.0% and finally 1.3%. All in all, HICP inflation is set to stand at 1.0% in the EU and 0.8% in the euro area in 2014 and at 1.5% and 1.2% respectively in 2015. -1 0 1 2 3 4 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 Other euro-area Member States EA vulnerables (IE, EL, ES, IT, CY, PT, SI) Graph I.23:Contribution to euro-area HICP inflation 2007-15 pps. forecast -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 EL ES PT NL IE CY SI IT EA SK FR BE DE FI MT AT LV LU EE Graph I.24: Annual HICP inflation in the euro area over 2014-15 % Inflation at the aggregate level is thus projected to remain low in the next quarters. In the near term, in some Member States, quarterly inflation rates are set to temporarily fall to zero or even below that (see graph I.23). In some countries, this is linked to the price adjustments necessary to restore competitiveness vis-à-vis trading partners (see graph I.24). In the short run, low inflation can support GDP growth by increasing real disposable incomes, which can in turn boost consumption. However, too prolonged a period of low inflation also increases the real value of both private and public debt and can raise real interest rates. This makes deleveraging more difficult and may eventually impact negatively on investment and consumption. Finally, very low aggregate euro- area inflation can make the necessary relative price adjustment in the vulnerable Member States more challenging. 7. PUBLIC FINANCES In 2013, the general government deficit decreased by 0.6 pp. in the EU and by 0.7 pp. in the euro area, to 3.3% and 3.0% of GDP respectively. Given the modest nominal GDP growth in 2013, this reduction was mainly attributable to the implementation of sizeable consolidation measures. (12) Headline deficits continue to fall … Headline deficits are expected to continue falling in 2014 in the EU and the euro area, at a similar pace to 2013, as the recovery advances and given additional deficit-reducing measures having been adopted or being implemented by Member States. The deficit reduction in the EU (0.7 pp.) is slightly larger than in the euro area (0.5 pp.). (13) For the first time since 2008, the headline deficit is thus projected to decline below the Treaty deficit threshold of 3% of GDP and more precisely to 2.6% of GDP in the EU and to 2.5% in the euro area. Under the no-policy-change assumption, the general government deficit is projected to decrease only mildly in 2015 in the EU and the euro area (see graph I.25). … but structural deficits are stabilising over the forecast period. Following substantial fiscal consolidation measures in most Member States, in 2011-13, the fiscal policy stance is expected to be close to neutral in 2014. The reduction of the structural deficit, i.e. the general government deficit corrected for cyclical factors, one-offs and other temporary measures, was 0.8 pp. of GDP in the EU as a whole and the euro area in 2013, and it is set to be much smaller in the current year, with a (12) With regard to EU budgetary surveillance 11 countries are not currently subject to the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP), namely: Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania, and Sweden. (13) This is attributable to the fact that Poland is moving from a deficit of 4.3% of GDP in 2013 to a surplus of 5.7% in 2014, largely due to a one-off operation related to the transfer of assets from the privately owned second pillar of the pension system to the first pillar located within the general government sector.
  • 33. European Economic Forecast, Spring 2014 24 minor projected improvement of 0.1-0.2 pp. of GDP in both areas. In 2015, under the usual no- policy-change assumption, the structural deficit in the EU is forecast to stabilise, while increasing slightly in the euro area. -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 Graph I.25: Budgetary developments, EU General goverment balance (lhs) Changes in structural balance (rhs) forecast % of GDP pps. From revenue to expenditure-based fiscal consolidation While in the EU as a whole, the reduction of general government expenditure and the increase in revenues contributed equally to the reduction of the headline deficit in 2013, in the euro area, the improvement of the headline deficit continued to be almost exclusively due to revenue-driven, as it was the case in the period 2011-12. In both areas, the main contribution to the increase in public revenues was provided by taxes on income and wealth. As of 2014, expenditure cuts are set to become the main factor underlying the improvement of the headline deficit in both areas, although in the EU revenue increases are expected still to contribute slightly to the budgetary adjustment. 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 Total revenues Total expenditure forecast Graph I.26:General government revenues and expenditure, EU % of GDP -6.8 -4.4 -3.3 -2.5 Numbers represent general government balances (as % of GDP) The revenue ratio is projected to increase mildly this year in the EU, to 45.8% of GDP, before starting to come down in 2015, as temporary tax increases are projected to expire and limited tax cuts are planned in some Member States (see graph I.26). In the euro area, the forecast is for a small decrease of the revenue ratios in both years, to 46.5% of GDP in 2015. With regard to government spending, the expenditure-to-GDP ratio is set to decrease by more than ½ pp. in 2014 to 48.4% and 49.2% in the EU and the euro area respectively. This trend is likely to continue in both areas in 2015. The pick-up in economic activity is likely to induce a reduction in expenditure related to automatic stabilisers, alongside discretionary expenditure cuts via wages and intermediate consumption. Public debt ratio reaching a peak in 2014 In the euro area, the increase of the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2013 could be mainly ascribed to the so- called snow-ball effect, in particular the contribution of interest expenditure – which was significant even if a bit lower than in previous (% of GDP) 2012 2013 2014 2015 2013 2014 2015 2012 2013 2014 2015 2013 2014 2015 Total receipts (1) 46.2 46.8 46.7 46.5 46.8 46.8 46.5 45.4 45.7 45.8 45.2 45.7 45.9 45.3 Total expenditure (2) 49.9 49.8 49.2 48.7 49.9 49.4 49.0 49.4 49.1 48.4 47.7 49.2 48.5 48.0 Actual balance (3) = (1)-(2) -3.7 -3.0 -2.5 -2.3 -3.1 -2.6 -2.5 -3.9 -3.3 -2.6 -2.5 -3.5 -2.7 -2.7 Interest expenditure (4) 3.1 2.9 2.9 2.9 3.0 3.0 3.1 2.9 2.8 2.7 2.7 2.9 2.8 2.9 Primary balance (5) = (3)+(4) -0.6 -0.1 0.4 0.6 -0.1 0.5 0.6 -1.0 -0.5 0.2 0.2 -0.6 0.2 0.2 Cyclically-adjusted budget balance -2.5 -1.4 -1.1 -1.3 -1.6 -1.3 -1.8 -2.7 -1.8 -1.4 -1.8 -2.0 -1.6 -2.1 Cyclically-adjusted primary balance 0.6 1.6 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.7 1.3 0.2 1.0 1.4 1.0 0.8 1.2 0.7 Structural budget balance -2.1 -1.3 -1.1 -1.2 -1.5 -1.3 -1.7 -2.6 -1.8 -1.7 -1.7 -2.0 -1.9 -2.1 Change in structural budget balance 1.5 0.8 0.1 -0.1 0.6 0.1 -0.4 1.1 0.8 0.1 0.0 0.6 0.1 -0.2 Gross debt 92.7 95.0 96.0 95.4 95.5 95.9 95.4 86.7 88.9 89.5 89.2 89.4 89.7 89.5 Table I.6: forecastEuro area General Government budgetary position - euro area and EU The structural budget balance is the cyclically-adjusted budget balance net of one-off and other temporary measures estimated by the European Commission EU Winter 2014 forecast Winter 2014

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