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The housing market saw a marked recovery in both 2016 and 2015. The number of transactions rose by 5% in pre-owned and saw a further very sustained increase of 17% in new-build. Prices are picking up once more, although modestly, rising by 1.7% over 12 months in pre-owned in Q3 2016. However, this boom is not quite comparable to a traditional cyclical rebound, and features some weaknesses. In 2017-2018, we lean towards a scenario featuring a slight rise in 10-year OAT rates and lending rates, leading to a slowly declining trend on the market.
As expected the ECB maintained a dovish stance, downplaying the relatively high inflation numbers of December, and focussed the speech instead on the low and stalling core inflation rate, and on the downside risks. It restated its asymmetrical forward guidance: on rates – they can go lower but not higher over the medium term; on QE – it can be increased in size and in duration but not reduced.
Despite an uneven growth profile in 2016, the French economy's growth rate finally looks set to come out at 1.1%. Looking ahead, growth is forecast to accelerate modestly. External support factors will continue to have an overall positive impact, even if oil prices and interest rates are starting to edge upwards. In addition, the positive impact of several economic policy measures bear out our growth forecast, whose dynamism is nevertheless restricted by persistent structural constraints.
This publication presents the economists' forecasts for interest rates, exchange rates and commodity prices, along with the Crédit Agricole Group's central economic projection.
Fears about 'hard Brexit' have escalated in recent days and that has pushed GBP to fresh multi-year lows. We expect the concerns to linger and lower our GBP forecasts. We expect GBP/USD to finish the year at 1.23 and EUR/GBP at 0.90. Further out, we expect a cautious recovery because we believe that 'hard Brexit' will be avoided and that the UK will able to secure an enhanced free trade agreem ent with the EU in the coming years.
The housing market has been experiencing a marked rebound since early 2015. Transaction numbers grew 15% in 2015. In mid-2016, cumulative 12-month totals were again up by about 15% and are nudging the high points of the previous, 2004-2007, cycle. Prices have started rising again, even if the trend is still modest. That said, the ongoing boom is fairly atypical, with some clearly upside factors, but also some persistent weaknesses.
Highlights: Hungary's sovereign paper "investment grade" rating has been reinstated. What is the nature of the Russian regime? In Egypt, support from multilateral agencies has helped boost reserves, but the conditionalities are painful. Q2 external demand has been saved from recession in South Africa. India has adopted a law designed to unify the tax system for goods and services at national level. Mexico: why is the peso so weak and the key rate so high?
Paradoxically, the six-month 'official' extension of QE is insignificant, despite amounting to EUR480bn: QE is already in open-ended mode and markets are already convinced that it will run beyond March 2017. As long as markets continue to expect the extension, the timing of its announcement matters little. President Mario Draghi will, we expect, point to the extension on Thursday to ensure this remains the case.
FOMC voters thought it was appropriate to wait for additional information in order to gauge the underlying momentum in the labor market and economic activity before taking another step in removing monetary accommodation. "Most participants anticipated that economic growth would move up to a rate somewhat above its longer-run trend during the second half of 2016 and that the labor market would strengthen further." We believe that Chair Yellen is willing to test the downside of the natural rate of unemployment in order to meet the Fed's maximum employment mandate.
The measures to help businesses are now almost fully in place. As a result of those measures, the financial situation of businesses markedly improved in 2015, with a significant increase in profits and margins. The improvement is also due to other factors such as low interest rates, which reduce interest charges, and the lower oil price, which cuts the cost of intermediate consumption. However, uncertainties and the limits inherent in the measures persist.
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