Euro zone’s stunning recovery intensifies ECB debate
To the surprise of economists, Europe, not America, is this year’s success story, a reality that the ECB will grapple with at Thursday’s meeting
The euro zone economy beat all expectations in the first quarter of the year, expanding by 0.5%, or an annualized growth of 1.8%. Meanwhile, the US, despite the optimism at the outset of the Trump administration, posted an annualized growth figure of just 0.7% to start the year.
With many expressing confidence that the success story is more than just a blip, the debate about when and how the European Central Bank will unwind its stimulus policy is coming to the fore. At the ECB’s meeting in Tallin on Thursday, policy makers will make their cases for whether or not to start weaning economies off of the ECB’s bond-buying program.
At question is whether the ECB will begin to taper the 60 billion euro per month bond purchases next year, with the bank likely committed to continuing the policy through this year.
While doves on the ECB will no doubt point to structural problems in the region’s economy, as well as Italy’s troubled banks, as the Financial Times writes, the recovery has stolen the spotlight:
“Such concerns, however, are far from new. What excites investors and economists is that they are no longer the big economic narrative of the eurozone. Instead, they have been supplanted by another story, that of an increasingly strong recovery.”