Mon, Oct 21, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Eurozone countries talk growth, wield budget rigor

AFP, PARIS

However, in reality, the country which has received eurozone help for its banks, is squeezing the budget harder to reduce the public deficit to 5.8 percent of GDP next year. Spending by ministries is being cut by 4.7 percent, and pensioners will also suffer.

The Netherlands, for long regarded as virtuous, has also laid out measures to strengthen its finances to the extent of 6 billion euros.

“Overall, the budgets are rigorous, but less aggressively so,” BNP Paribas bank economist Dominique Barbet said.

Bond portfolio manager Remi Lelu De Brach at Quilvest Gestion said: “The budgets have more room for growth.”

However, they said that budgetary measures will not be enough to ensure recovery.

“What we really have to achieve is growth driven by exports,” Barbet said.

The real problem was not the budgets, but an over-valued euro, he said.

“All the others are worried about their currencies, so that they are not over-valued. Everyone except us,” he said.

At Berenberg Bank, senior economist Christian Schulz said “the gradual fading of austerity will be one of the drivers of growth for the eurozone.”

The single currency area overall “is already in better shape” than Britain, the US and Japan.

The zone had “a projected fiscal deficit of 2.5 percent of GDP next year” as estimated by the IMF, and a debt-GDP ratio of 96.1 percent although this had to fall to 60 percent over 20 years under the new rules, he said.

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