Friday, October 4, 2013

The Eurozone Recession is Over

Moreover, the Eurozone recession is over (though five periphery economies continue to shrink, and recovery remains very fragile). Some structural reform has been implemented and a lot of fiscal adjustment has occurred. Internal devaluation (a fall in unit labour costs to restore competitiveness) has occurred to some extent – in Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Ireland, but not in Italy or France – improving external balances. And, even if such adjustment is not occurring as fast as Germany and other core eurozone countries would like, they remain willing to provide financing, and governments committed to adjustment are still in power.

But beneath the surface calm of lower spreads and lower tail risks, the eurozone's fundamental problems remain unresolved. For starters, potential growth is still too low in most of the periphery, given ageing populations and low productivity growth, while actual growth – even once the periphery exits the recession, in 2014 – will remain below 1% for the next few years, implying that unemployment rates will remain very high.

Meanwhile, levels of private and public debt, domestic and foreign, are still too high, and continue to rise as a share of GDP, owing to slow or negative output growth. This means that the issue of medium-term sustainability remains unresolved.  - in The Guardian

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