Eurozone economy returns to pre-pandemic normal
According to unofficial data, consumers in the Eurozone are flocking to bars and restaurants, booking holidays and going to work again, indicating that the pre-pandemic economic activity pattern is re-emerging.
High-frequency data shows that in many countries, the use of public transportation and journeys to the workplace have reached their highest levels since the beginning of last year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, surrogate indicators have received widespread attention because they provide a more timely measure of activity, although they are not as comprehensive and reliable as official data.
ING economist Bert Colijn said: “We are returning to normal soon.” He added that the performance of a number of economic activity indicators has exceeded the level of last summer: “This has intensified expectations for a rapid economic rebound.”
As the virus recedes, most EU member states are reopening their economies, boosting family confidence.Since May, coronavirus infections have declined rapidly, and about half of the EU population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, despite growing concerns The spread of the more contagious Delta variant.
This Relax restrictions Capital Economics economist Jack Allen-Reynolds said, “make the public more willing to return to old habits.”
According to data from Google Mobile, by mid-June, workplace travel in the euro zone’s largest economy was about 10% lower than the level in January 2020, but much higher than the level in June last year and the highest level since the pandemic began. .
Data from SimilarWeb, which tracks web traffic, shows that as people return to the office, traffic to web conferences and e-commerce sites dropped sharply at the beginning of the year.
Many more people are returning to work. Recent leave data from Spain and Germany show that by May, the number of people receiving employment subsidies had fallen to the lowest level this year.At the same time, the website did report Strong growth in job postings Since April.
More people also started to go out and walk around. Google’s data shows that in some eurozone countries, the number of people going to airports, train stations and bus stations has reached the highest level since the pandemic began. The data also shows that the number of retail and entertainment venues in many places has reached the highest level since last summer. Level.
According to data from OpenTable and Fable Data, which track bank transactions, in Germany, restaurant reservations and consumer spending are both higher than in June 2019.
Allen-Reynolds said that some consumers had a lot of savings last year and they may be “eager to spend money,” which makes household consumption a possible driving force for economic growth for the rest of this year.
However, some economic sectors are far from normal, Including the supply chain. Due to interference and Input shortage Nomura Securities economist Chiara Zangarelli said that “industrial activity may continue to be sluggish” until the second half of this year.
In most parts of Europe, certain parts of the leisure industry, such as nightclubs, performances and theaters, remain closed. Cinemas in some countries have reopened, but with limited capacity and low income.
According to Eurocontrol data, in mid-June, European flight traffic was half of the same period in 2019. However, it is close to the highest level since the pandemic began.
“We are not very optimistic about the prospects for a full recovery in the tourism industry this year, especially for countries that rely heavily on foreign tourists,” said Fabio Balboni, an economist at HSBC.
But Tomas Dvorak, an economist at the Oxford Economics Institute, said that Internet search data showed that tourism-related activities “have risen sharply in recent weeks, indicating strong demand.”
Another encouraging sign is the online holiday booking data from Transparent, which shows the rapid increase in short-term rental bookings.
In most areas of Germany and France, bookings are much higher than in June 2019, indicating that travelers are on vacation in their home countries instead of flocking to the Mediterranean. Dvorak expects that, relative to the pre-pandemic level, the domestic tourism industry will be “quite strong” this year, but “not as strong as 2020.”
“This is a good sign that consumers can easily react to the relaxation of restrictions even in the tourism industry,” he said.
All in all, economists’ expectations for the euro zone’s economic recovery are rising.European Central Bank Improved forecasts last week The euro zone economy is expected to grow by 0.6 percentage points to 4.6% in 2021. Economists say that the euro zone can fully recover from the effects of the pandemic as early as this fall.
“Judging from the optimistic sentiment survey, strong order inflows and rebound in consumer data, the Eurozone should return to its pre-pandemic GDP levels. [level] in [the third quarter of] 2021,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg.