Recent economic indicators are not very encouraging for those hoping that inflation in the euro area will soon return to the ECB's 2% target. Economic growth decelerated sharply in 2018 and the previous acceleration in inflation was completely reversed in the final months of the year. Core inflation has not yet picked up, although stronger wage increases would have justified hopes of such a development. However, the slowdown in consumer demand growth has probably prompted entrepreneurs to reduce their profit margins rather than increase prices.
Low inflation in the eurozone also reflects the adjustment process whereby peripheral euro area countries continue to make up for competitiveness losses that occurred before the euro debt crisis. This is still not complete and implies that their inflation rates should remain below that of Germany. Consequently, as long as German inflation remains below 2%, average eurozone inflation cannot really get close to 2%.
A stronger stimulation of the German economy, and in particular of German consumption, could accelerate the process by stimulating German inflation. But such a stimulus is unlikely. A significant acceleration of German inflation to above 2% is therefore also unlikely. As other large euro area countries will have to keep their inflation levels below German levels for a long time to come in order to restore their competitiveness, a return to average inflation in the euro area close to the ECB's 2% target is likely to be a very long-term effort.
In this research report we discuss the main fiscal policy proposals that have so far been put forward by the new US President Trump, starting with a brief overview of recent evolutions in US public finances and related projections under current policies. Our main conclusion is that Trump’s proposals are not well designed for spurring economic growth significantly, but are likely to further deteriorate the already worrisome fiscal position of the US economy. Notwithstanding the Republican majority in Congress, Trump will have to compromise on his ideas, which will temper sustainability risks of government finances. At the same time, such compromises are likely to lead to disappointment in financial markets that are currently anticipating a strong economic boost.