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The Threat of a Eurozone Recession

The eurozone may fall into a new recession by the end of this year, with potentially nasty political consequences. In addition to countering the cyclical slowdown, pro-European forces must urgently address the continent’s long-term structural economic problems.

LONDON – National statistical offices and international organizations are busy revising down their growth forecasts for Europe this year and next. Although they are doing the same for the rest of the world as well, and for China in particular, a slowdown in Europe may have nasty political consequences, in addition to economic costs.

Faced with this deteriorating outlook, eurozone policymakers should ask themselves three questions. The first is whether the eurozone slowdown is temporary, or persistent enough to lead to a possible recession. The second is what kind of recession might occur, and what policymakers can do to counter it. And the third is what Europe must do to address its longer-term structural economic problems.

Regarding the first question, GDP growth forecasts that look more than one quarter ahead are notoriously unreliable. We must therefore get a good grip on the current situation and analyze revisions to growth forecasts over the past year to judge the persistence of bad news.