Eurostat Recession in the EU-27

Recession in the EU-27: length and depth of the downturn varies across activities and countries


Auteurs : | Ecrit le 14/04/10 | envoyer l'article par mail envoyer par mail | impression Imprimer | Document Joint

In simplified terms, the financial crisis during the summer of 2007 resulted from a fall in asset prices after a period of asset price inflation, leading to a liquidity shortage among financial institutions and concerns over their solvency. These concerns were subsequently transmitted, often in the first half of 2008, to non-financial sectors (the so-called ‘real economy’), as credit facilities were withdrawn and business and consumer confidence fell.

The length and depth of the recession was considerable and in some cases the contraction in activity was the largest seen since the 1930s ; however, there are now signs of a recovery. This publication therefore takes stock of the situation by measuring the extent of the recession from the most recent peaks in activity to the bottom of the cycle when output reached its lowest point (troughs). The publication also sets the recession in context by comparing it with earlier periods when business activity also experienced a contraction.

A recession is normally defined in terms of zero or negative growth of GDP in at least two successive quarters. As shown in Figure 1, the volume of GDP within the EU-27 peaked in the first quarter of 2008, after which there were five consecutive quarters of reduced economic activity ; before a 0.3 % quarter-on-quarter increase in the third quarter of 2009.

Short-term statistics (STS) provide more detailed activity-based measures for the evolution of output. These show a stark contrast between the developments experienced in different sectors of the EU’s business economy since the first quarter of 2008 : with a considerable downturn in industrial and construction output (as measured by indices of production), while the volume of retail trade experienced far less of a contraction.

The latest peak in EU-27 GDP, industrial and construction output, as well as the volume of retail sales was recorded in the first quarter of 2008. As such, the onset of the recession was consistent across economic activities, and from the second quarter of 2008 each of these indicators experienced a downturn in activity. There were five consecutive quarter-on-quarter reductions recorded for GDP and for industrial output, while for construction and retail trade, the latest information available for the third quarter of 2009 shows that output continued to fall.

The magnitude of the recession, as measured by the decline in activity from peak to trough, was a contraction of 5.1 % for EU-27’s GDP between the first quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2009. Using the same quarterly measure, EU-27 industrial output fell by a considerably larger amount, as the index of production fell overall by more than one sixth (-17.6 %) during the same period. The indices for construction and retail trade continued to fall, and as such, it is as yet unclear whether the bottom of the cycle was reached in the third quarter of 2009. On the basis of a comparison between the first quarter of 2008 (the relative peak) and the third quarter of 2009, EU-27 construction output fell overall by 14.2 %. In contrast, the extent of the downturn experienced within the EU-27’s retail trade sector was considerably less, as the volume of sales was reduced by 2.7 % between the first quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2009.

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Ecrit le 14/04/10 | envoyer l'article par mail envoyer par mail | impression Imprimer | Document Joint

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