The euro-area economy is riding the biggest wave of liquidity since the birth of the single currency to its fastest expansion in four years.
The long-term laggard of global growth is for now even outpacing the U.S as it cashes in on ultra-loose monetary policy, weakness in the euro and oil prices, fading fiscal austerity, surging stocks and renewed bank lending. Barclays Plc reckons such forces make overall monetary and financial conditions the easiest since the euro began trading in 1999.
Credit for the revival, mere weeks after talk was rife of deflation, is due in part to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s successful navigation of German opposition to quantitative easing. As always, the risk is of slippage, with Greece the chief wild card as its clash with creditors throws doubt over its membership of the 19-nation bloc.
Moec raised his 2015 euro-area growth forecast on Friday to 1.6 percent from 1.5 percent, and predicted 1.9 percent in 2016 after a string of data reinforced the reasons for optimism. The International Monetary Fund lifted its forecast last month, paving the way for the European Commission to revise up its outlook when it makes new predictions next week.
Consumer prices have ended a four-month run of declines, German unemployment continues to fall and Spain’s once crisis-addled economy grew the fastest in seven years in the first quarter. Economic confidence across the continent is near its highest since mid-2011.
So well has 2015 begun that the euro-area may have beaten the U.S. for the first time in four years. The region grew 0.4 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months, according to economists polled by Bloomberg, faster than the 0.1 percent estimated for the U.S.
Investors are tuning in. A survey of financial professionals by Bloomberg found them favoring Europe as the best place to put their money for the first time since at least 2009, displacing the U.S.
That raises the likelihood that the Stoxx Europe 600 Index will extend its 15 percent gain so far this year and the euro’s drop to dollar parity that some were predicting won’t happen.