European Industrial Outlook: "On the Mend"


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The economic outlook for Europe has brightened despite the severe crisis in Greece, according to a report from the MAPI Foundation, the research affiliate of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.

The semiannual European Industrial Outlook provides analysis and forecasts for 12 major countries—Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

"The European economy is on the mend; it's not growing very fast but we're seeing some positive signs," said Kris Bledowski, Ph.D., director of economic studies and report author. "The medium-term outlook calls for further strengthening of the pace of growth, absent a slump in confidence related to the Greek sovereign debt crisis. The economy fared better than in the first half of 2015. We have seen stronger demand for capital goods and consumer durables, boosted by a less expensive euro and stronger exports."

The core Central European Big Three of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland are expected to be the growth leaders in 2015. Hungary is forecast to advance by 6.2%, Poland is expected to grow by 5.5%, and the Czech Republic is anticipated to increase by 4.8%.

The Hungarian economy is returning to a more stable growth rate after a sharp deceleration in 2014. The industrial sector continues to perform well, led by construction activity and motor vehicles, both increasing by double digits. Conditions in Poland remain favorable for the private sector, with low inflation and interest rates while banks are loosening lending standards. The Czech economy is returning to a robust growth phase. Activity is broadly supported, with investment demand leading the way in the wake of faster public spending funded by the EU.

Eleven of the 12 countries in the report are expected to see industrial production growth in 2015, led by Hungary, and all 12 are anticipated to gain in 2016, with Poland expected to be the leader at 5.6%.

Sweden is recovering nicely but nevertheless is the lone country that will likely show a decline in industrial production, of 0.1%, in 2015. Production is expected to advance by 3.1% in 2016.

Bledowski highlights three key factors for the improved economic outlook.

"The European Central Bank has introduced monetary easing and has given a boost to investors and consumers alike," he said. "Secondly, we are seeing mush less fiscal austerity in Europe, and finally, business is more optimistic about the future."

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