While in the past economic output growth was strongly dependent on the performance of the U. The long awaited European recovery finally materialized in Corporate restructuring improved competitiveness and increased consumption and investment spending particularly in France and Germany , contributing to the turnaround.
Consumer confidence is robust. Real output growth is forecasted at 2 percent for , compared to 2. As a net oil importer, the outlook depends significantly on future crude oil prices.
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Similar to U. Two long-term trends are alarming: first, productivity growth in most European countries has declined in recent years and jeopardizes future competitiveness in a global market. Second, economic fundamentals among member countries of the Euro area are drifting apart.
The International Economy
While countries like Germany and France effectively managed an economic restructuring toward higher value-added production, other countries like Italy or Spain have been less successful. While per unit labor costs decreased in Germany and stayed more or less flat in France since the introduction of the euro, they have increased significantly in Italy and Spain.
Over the long run, this might undermine the commitment to the Euro currency because depreciation might be too tempting for populist politicians.