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US economic performance is likely to warrant further gradual increases in the federal funds rate. Chair Yellen reiterated her view that "waiting too long to remove accommodation would be unwise, potentially requiring the FOMC to eventually raise rates rapidly, which could risk disrupting financial markets and pushing the economy into recession."
As widely expected, the FOMC left its monetary policy unchanged with the Fed funds rate target range maintained at 0.5% to 0.75% at its February meeting. The Fed's balance sheet reinvestment policies were also unchanged.
Highlights: Azerbaijan is at the mercy of oil... Serbia and Kosovo have awoken their old demons. In Saudi Arabia, a reformist 2017 budget has been drawn up on the basis of Brent at USD 50/bbl. In Côte d'Ivoire, the crisis has multiple faces. In China, 2017 will be a year of challenges. Is Mexico staring at the end of NAFTA?
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.
Inflation rates in the Eurozone surprised to the upside in December 2016, and we forecast that inflation will continue to rise over the next few months, coming close to 2% before receding below 1.5% during the summer. There have been voices calling for monetary tightening following these inflation figures. Calling for ECB tightening today is to misunderstand the inflation trend, the macroeconomic outlook in the Eurozone, the ECB's mandate and the way the ECB understands its mandate.
Highlights: Doubts persist as to Turkey's potential for growth. In Serbia, the public finances are improving faster than expected. In Egypt, the new floating exchange rate regime has devalued the pound by 57% in 12 months and triggered a new bout of inflation. In South Africa, the economy is flagging in a gloomy climate. Is China moving towards making fewer foreign acquisitions? GDP has again fallen in the third quarter in Brazil.
After two and a half years of active and changing monetary policy – ABSPP, CBPP 3, TLTRO I, PSPP, PSPP extension, PSPP expansion, TLTRO II, PSPP reduction, PSPP extension and change in modalities – the ECB has set the conditions for a period of unchanged monetary policy.
This publication presents the economists' forecasts for interest rates, exchange rates and commodity prices, along with the Crédit Agricole Group's central economic projection.
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