Secular stagnation and the euro area

08-02-2016

Several years after the Great Recession began, the euro area is still far from fully recovered. The international economic and financial crisis has pushed down investment levels within the EU by about 15% from their peak in 2007. Even though the near-term prospects seem brighter, high unemployment persists in many Member States. Some experts argue that the euro area, alongside Japan and the United States, is facing 'secular stagnation', a long-term economic stagnation characterised by a shrinking work force, low demand, excess savings and low investments, despite low interest rates and deflationary tendencies. The complexity of the ongoing crisis and the diverging economic situations of the Member States participating in the euro area make it difficult to predict future developments, as there is no common cure for long-term stagnation. Some believe that if the demand side is spurred, it would help boost the economy. In this context, the European Commission launched a number of measures in 2015, among which the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), with the aim of mobilising at least €315 billion worth of investments in the real economy by 2017. But it is also important to improve the supply side, which shapes the investment environment. Furthermore, in December 2015 the European Central Bank (ECB) extended its quantitative easing programme (in particular, the asset purchase programme (APP)) until at least March 2017 as a way to provide further liquidity and stability to Member States' financial markets.

Several years after the Great Recession began, the euro area is still far from fully recovered. The international economic and financial crisis has pushed down investment levels within the EU by about 15% from their peak in 2007. Even though the near-term prospects seem brighter, high unemployment persists in many Member States. Some experts argue that the euro area, alongside Japan and the United States, is facing 'secular stagnation', a long-term economic stagnation characterised by a shrinking work force, low demand, excess savings and low investments, despite low interest rates and deflationary tendencies. The complexity of the ongoing crisis and the diverging economic situations of the Member States participating in the euro area make it difficult to predict future developments, as there is no common cure for long-term stagnation. Some believe that if the demand side is spurred, it would help boost the economy. In this context, the European Commission launched a number of measures in 2015, among which the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), with the aim of mobilising at least €315 billion worth of investments in the real economy by 2017. But it is also important to improve the supply side, which shapes the investment environment. Furthermore, in December 2015 the European Central Bank (ECB) extended its quantitative easing programme (in particular, the asset purchase programme (APP)) until at least March 2017 as a way to provide further liquidity and stability to Member States' financial markets.