Monday, 3 September 2012

European Exuberance

After the Euro introduction, the EU research departments had stated that no major inflationary pressures had been made to the Member-States economies. Any discrepancies which may have been observed during the transitional period were eliminated very soon. However, if one looks at the HICP (Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices) data that Eurostat regularly publishes one may observe something different.

Take a look at the following. The graphs illustrate the monthly average inflation rate in the now crisis-ridden countries as well as Finland, Germany, Sweden and the UK (the latter two for comparison with nations which have not introduced the Euro to their economies) both before as well as after the introduction of the Euro in their economies. 

As you may observe the differences in average monthly inflation are significant. Germany, with a somewhat stabler transition than most other nations saw its average inflation rise from 0.1% to 0.17%. This would mean an average yearly inflation of 0.95% greater than before the introduction of the Euro. The same holds for all other nations, with the largest change occurring in Spain and France where on average they experienced increased inflation by 1.21% yearly. The lowest has been in Ireland where -0.98% was experienced, mainly due to the sub-prime lending crisis which brought the Celtic tiger to its knees. 

In addition to higher inflation, property prices had been rising rapidly until 2008 throughout the EA17, when the sub-prime debt crisis occurred. This led to a higher cost of living than the one experienced before the introduction of the Euro, when at the same time, in order to compensate for this increase, labor costs were rising as well, making the EU nations less competitive.

What we are witnessing now is that, as labor costs, pensions and other benefits are decreasing making the South more competitive than ever before, the cost of living and property prices will decline substantially, making way for more sustainable growth in the following 2-3 years.

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