Six types of European economic trends

Recent EU data shows great divergences in Europe between different countries in economic growth, Karlsson writes.

Antonio Calanni/AP
Italian Prime minister Mario Monti, left, and European Central bank President Mario Draghi meet as they attend the opening ceremony of the academic year of the Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, Thursday. New data shows that a slight majority of EU countries had smaller economies than a year earlier, Karlsson writes.

Preliminary third quarter growth data for 20 out of 27 EU countries have now been released. The data shows great divergence in Europe between different countries in economic growth. A slight majority, 12* out of  the 20, had smaller economies than a year earlier, with Greece again suffering the biggest slump, followed by the other Southern European countries as well as Czechia and Hungary. Latvia was the star performer, followed by Estonia, Lithuania and Slovakia.  Note the big divergence in growth between the two countries that once formed Czechoslovakia.

Numbers for Ireland, Malta, Slovenia, Poland, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden aren't yet available, but for the other 20, one can divide them into the six categories you can see below:

Rapid Boom: (More than 5% growth): Latvia
Significant Growth (1.5%  to 5% hrowth ): Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia
Barely Growing (0 to 1.4% growth): Germany, Bulgaria, Austria, France
Mildly Contracting (0 to 1.4% contraction): Britain. Romania, Holland, Belgium, Finland.
Significantly Contracting ( 1.5% to 5% contraction): Czechia, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus
Depression (more than 5% contraction): Greece

*=some would perhaps object to my inclusion of Britain in the mild contraction category since they had zero annual growth. But considring that this first of all means that per capita growth is negative and secondly that the third quarter number was artificially and temporarily boosted by the Olympic Games (numbers for September that has been released indicates indeed that growth turned negative again once the Olympics ended)

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