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Europe’s 2013 in numbers - Q1 2014

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The middle of 2013 heralded a turning point in economic sentiment. The Bloomberg Consensus Forecasts saw upward revisions to both the 2013 and 2014 outlooks, reversing an expected fall in output to an expected rise and removing, or at least deferring, the apparent need to revise down the forecast for 2014, which had been looking increasingly tenuous (as shown in Exhibit A).

That being said, there remain economic concerns about Europe: the banking sector remains highly geared; government debt is high and still rising in many countries; France and Italy are stagnating and remain uncompetitive and in need of reforms; the Federal Reserve’s tapering of quantitative easing has already driven bond yields (and therefore the cost of debt) upward in almost all European economies (whilst leading to the worst year of government bond performance since 1994 in the UK); the European working-age population reached a turning point in 2013 and is set to decline over the coming years; and finally, the longer-term effects of quantitative easing (in particular on inflation – even if deflation appears to be a greater threat) are, as yet, unknown and pose a risk further ahead.

Source : AXA Real Estate

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