Central bankers are progressively adopting a pro-cyclical behavior. The global growth momentum is now lower and central banks’ strategy now have a restrictive bias. In the US, Canada, UK and in many emerging markets, central banks’ rates are higher than at the beginning of the year. This has already changed expectations and it will continue with a downside risk on the economic activity.
The Q2 growth number for the second quarter was disappointing in France. It was just 0,158% (non annualized) which is rounded at 0,2%. It’s the same figure than in Q1 (0,153%).
Carryover growth is just 1.3% for 2018 at the end of the second quarter. The government growth target in the 2018 budget is 1.7%. This is attainable if growth is at 0.55% in Q3 and in Q4. We can’t imagine the reason of this stronger momentum during the second half of 2018.
Households consumption is the weakness of the French growth since the beginning of the year. Change in the purchasing power was negative in Q1 for fiscal reason (higher taxes) and was probably negative also in Q2 due to a higher inflation rate. Corporate investment was higher in Q2 (good news) after a very weak number in Q1.
For 2018 we can expect a growth figure close to 1.5% which will be way below the 2.3% seen in 2017.
This mean that the public deficit target at 2.3% of GDP will not be reached. It will remain close to its 2017 level at 2.6%.
The ECB has dramatically changed its monetary policy. The Asset Purchase Programme (APP) will stop next December. The amount that will be bought by the ECB will be halved after September to EUR 15bn.
The ECB will continue to invest the proceeds of its portfolio. It will guarantee the liquidity of the market and maintaining rates at a low level.
The ECB said that rates will not increase before the end of summer 2019.
French growth slows in Q1 2018 with + 0.3% (non annualized) vs. 0.7% in Q4 2017. Carryover growth for 2018 is 1.2%.
Explanation : a more limited dynamics of business investment and a marginal contraction of exports. This is consistent with the inflection seen recently in the surveys.
My expectations for 2018 is 0.4% on average per quarter. The first quarter is consistent with this. The main point to look at will be surveys during this spring. But April was not a good start. See here
Wait and see attitude of the #ECB in the management of its monetary policy. This is a sequel of the cyclical inflection observed since the beginning of the year. Is it permanent or temporary? The answer to this question is essential but it is still discussed by economists.
The ECB does not show a strong will to quickly change its strategy. That’s why we should not be surprised if asset purchases continue beyond the date of September 2018. The central bank is supposed to stop buying assets if the inflation trajectory is consistent with the monetary authorities’ expectations. This will probably not be the case. Moreover, by not creating the idea of a rapid break, the ECB should allow the euro to depreciate against the greenback. This would have a stabilizing effect on the eurozone economic outlook. This is all the more likely as the Fed will be much more active in countering the destabilizing effects of Donald Trump’s fiscal policy.