Europe Slips Toward Recession as ECB Mulls Steps Ahead: Eco Week

Buildings lit by street lights are reflected in the the Canal Saint-Martin at night in Paris, France, on Thursday, July 28, 2022. Although economic expansion in France beat expectations by a distance, the European energy crisis is pushing up the cost of electricity in the wholesale market for the whole of Europe, with French forward prices surging to almost 1,000% more than their decade-long average through 2020.

By Jana Randow, Bloomberg

Europeans returning from their summer breaks will find a more fragile economy that risks buckling under the threats of energy rationing, record inflation and tighter monetary policy.

Purchasing managers’ indexes due Tuesday will likely show private-sector output shrinking for a second month, adding to signs that a recession in the 19-nation euro zone is now more likely than not. Business confidence gauges from Germany, France and Italy will probably confirm that direction.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has emerged as the region’s weak spot, with its outsized industrial base suffering disproportionately from surging energy costs and a persistent shortage of supplies. Meanwhile, services aren’t seeing the same kind of tourism boom that’s tiding over countries around the Mediterranean as vacation travel picks up post-Covid.

An update on Germany’s second-quarter performance on Thursday will reveal whether the negligible contraction initially reported, small enough to be rounded away, will be revised into a bigger one, or whether consumer spending was strong enough to avert a decline in output — for now.

Data in the coming week will be key ingredients for discussions on where monetary policy is headed after the European Central Bank raised rates by half a point in July and signaled “further normalization” in September without pre-committing on the size. The ECB’s next meeting is less than three weeks away, and most policy makers have yet to express their preferences.

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