Sustained growth in the Eurozone since the beginning of the year

Growth has been robust since the beginning of 2017. In the second quarter, the economic activity was up by 2.5% after 2% during the first quarter and 2.4% in the last three months of 2016 (annual rates). Compared to the second quarter of 2016 the GDP level is 2.15% higher and the carry over growth for 2017 at the end of the second quarter is 1.7% (in other words, if growth is 0% in the third and the fourth quarters than the average growth for 2017 will be the same than in 2016). The graph shows this with a strong acceleration during the last three quarters.
Corporates surveys suggest that the growth momentum is strong so the Euro Area GDP growth will be above 2% on average for 2017 (2.1% for Natixis AM) Continue reading

France ready and set for growth

French economic growth is set to step up a pace in 2017 and 2018. It will benefit from a more buoyant world context, which has been visible in the surge in world trade over recent months. It will also be driven by activity in the euro area, which is enjoying a situation that we have not seen for some time. Business trends are picking up across all countries in the zone, even Italy, and business leaders are now much more optimistic than they were a few months ago.

The situation in the Eurozone is also characterized by fiscal policy that has become neutral, and monetary policy that is set to remain accommodative for a while to come. This means that for such times as inflation stays well below the ECB’s 2% target, the central bank will not change its monetary approach. To add to this, oil prices are not expected to rise sharply, so long-term rates will still stay very low. This overall context promotes risk-taking and encourages investment.
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Emmanuel Macron is the President-Elect: He will face high challenges

The new French President, Emmanuel Macron, has won with a large margin. He had 66.1% of voters versus 33.9% for Marine Le Pen the other runner up.
The hierarchy of the numbers is consistent with polls even if the final numbers were above the top for one and below the weakest for the other. This is shown on the graph below.

The margin is wider than the 60/40 financial investors had in mind. They were optimistic with 60/40 as the French economy is doing well (see here). With a wider margin and probably with a majority for the new president at the National Assembly we can expect strong financial markets in coming weeks.

On the political side, the postponement of voters has worked well for Macron. In days before the vote, a lot of voters from Mélenchon, Fillon and Dupont-Aignan joined Macron as they didn’t want Le Pen as president after the debate (last Wednesday).

France-PresidentialElection2ndRound

The watershed between Macron and Le Pen was Europe. (see here and here)
Macron wants to adapt the French economy to a globalized world with the help of Europe. He has in mind to strengthen European institutions. He also says that he wants to adapt the French competitiveness to the global environment. That’s why he wants a lot of reforms. On Le Pen’s side, the target was to exit from all European institutions. She has this populist view that by closing borders, jobs and growth can be saved. Continue reading

Positive impact of migrants 

Posted on Project Syndicate

“Many of the immigration debates now raging around the world reflect the faulty assumption that admitting immigrants is an act of largesse – and a costly one, at that. But, far from being an economic burden, immigrants represent a major economic opportunity for destination countries. Those countries that take a thoughtful, long-term approach to immigration can capture large and tangible benefits.” Ian Goldin and Jonathan Woetzel

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The new French president and growth at 1%

This is my weekly column for Forbes.fr. The French version is available here

The new French president will have to deal with an economy that is growing at a spontaneous rate of close to 1%, which is the average figure observed since the start of 2013. The new leader’s challenge will be to break with this trend on a sustainable basis, in order to create enough jobs to cut back unemployment and generate additional revenues to finance the social welfare system more effectively and more comprehensively.

Each candidate is of course fairly optimistic on the projected growth profile, expecting the average figure to be slightly under 2% in 2021/2022: in the space of five years, the new president therefore thinks that he/she could almost double the French economy’s growth rate. This is highly ambitious.
Judging by the growth profiles expected by the various candidates, the financial crisis, which has been going on for almost 10 years, will only have had a temporary impact as the economy could converge towards its pre-crisis trend by the end of the president’s forthcoming five-year term. This analysis is mistaken: the French economy has been permanently marked by this crisis. Like most western economies, it has suffered severe and persistent shocks that hampered its growth momentum. The US, the UK and other countries are witnessing a similar situation. Sluggish growth is not an exclusively French phenomenon and other countries are also taking a long time to find a way to return to pre-crisis growth levels.

France-2016-Q4-GDPLevel
In view of French economic figures, candidates’ projections display considerable determination on their part, as the economy is not spontaneously converging towards 2%. Continue reading

Virtuous dynamics of employment in the Euro zone

There was a real improvement in the employment momentum in 2016 in the Euro Area. Employment growth was 1.3%, the best figure since 2007.
This dynamics will continue at least during the first half of 2017. The Markit sub-Index on employment suggests a real improvement in months to come.
Since 2014 the employment is upward trending and a positive profile. In fact it is since the end of austerity policies
ea-2016-q4-employment-markit.png Continue reading