|Problems in Euro Land|
|Key Words||Economic Growth, Unemployment, Interest Rates, Monetary Policy|
Economic problems seem to be everywhere. Japan is trying to combat deflation and recession, the U.S. is coping with a slow recovery, Argentina is recovering from a default and devaluation, other South America countries are in recession, but Europe appears to be one of the weakest regional economies at this time. Euro zone economic growth was an annualized 1.2 percent for the third quarter about one-third of the U.S. rate. Germany, the leading economy in the European Union (EU) shows no sign of recovery and unemployment hit 10 percent in November. The European Central Bank is expected to lower interest rates in order to stimulate the EU economy.
One of the problems that the EU is experiencing is a lack of flexibility in labor and product markets. When demand falls, firms are not likely to cut costs by reducing employment or wages, nor are they able to lower prices. Firms faced with decreased revenues and stubborn costs are more likely to go bankrupt, as they are doing in record numbers in Germany. Because prices are not likely to decrease, inflation, currently at 2.2 percent, is above the European Central Bank's price-stability target; the central bank has been reluctant to lower interest rates in an effort to stimulate the economy. In spite of growing unemployment and meager growth, interest rates have not changed in a year.
While monetary policy has been slow to react, fiscal policy has also
had its problems. EU rules limit budget deficits and, therefore, mitigate
euro governments from applying economic stimulus. In contrast, over the
last two years, the Bush Administration has spent about 3 percent of GDP
for tax cuts and increased government spending, one of the largest expansions
in over 50 years.
(Updated February 5, 2003)
|Source||Christopher Rhoads, "Euro Zone Grew By Anemic 1.2% In Third Quarter," The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2002.|
Return to the International Finance
©1998-2003 South-Western. All Rights Reserved webmaster | DISCLAIMER