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The Economy has Bottomed Out

Martin Schneider (), Josef Schreiner () and Maria Silgoner
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Josef Schreiner: Oesterreichische Nationalbank, Economic Analysis Division

Monetary Policy & the Economy, 2012, issue 1, 5–21

Abstract: While Japan’s economy is showing the first signs of a hesitant recovery, the upturn already gained a foothold in the U.S. economy in the second half of 2011 on the back of robust domestic demand. Conditions in the labor market relaxed perceptibly, while the real estate market is still waiting for a rebound. The U.S. Federal Reserve System and the Bank of Japan changed their respective monetary policies at the beginning of 2012 to communicate their inflation goal clearly. At the same time, both central banks decided to keep their key interest rates at a historically low level for the time being. By contrast, China’s economy has lost momentum, prompting the Chinese central bank to start easing monetary policy. After the euro area economy had started to revive in the first half of 2011, conditions clouded over from mid-2011. In the fourth quarter of 2011, real GDP weakened by 0.3% against the previous quarter. With the consolidation measures required in all sectors dampening economic activity, net exports remained the only stable support for growth. In the first quarter of 2012, GDP is anticipated to decline marginally as well, but leading indicators signal that it will recover thereafter. Ongoing tensions in the bond markets that progressively spread to other financial market segments called for new monetary policy measures – the reduction of interest rates, the provision of additional long-term liquidity and the relaxation of the eligibility criteria for collateral. These measures along with the EU and international rescue packages as well as EU economic governance reforms eased tensions in the financial markets at the beginning of 2012 and restored confidence. Economic conditions deteriorated noticeably in the Central, Eastern and Southeastern European (CESEE) EU Member States until the turn of the year 2011 to 2012. In the fourth quarter of 2011, average growth in the region flagged markedly; many countries reported contracting growth. In recent months, signs of a trend reversal in the first quarter of 2012 have been mounting. However, if the rally continues beyond the first quarter of 2012, it will be very small. In 2011, the Austrian economy expanded by a stronger than expected +3.0%, but successively lost momentum in the course of the year. GDP growth, still above average in the first half of 2011, contracted slightly in the fourth quarter. Quite likely, the economy has already bottomed out. The OeNB’s Economic Indicator signals a stabilization of Austria’s economy for the first half of 2012. Despite the high employment growth recorded in 2011, which lasted into the beginning of 2012, unemployment rose somewhat. After peaking in fall 2011, inflation is currently subsiding notably.

Keywords: global outlook; euro area; Central; Eastern and Southeastern Europe; Austria (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E2 E3 O1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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