08 Feb. 2012 | Comments (0)
At last week’s European summit, the European leaders not only focused on finalizing the fiscal compact , but also talked about a growth agenda to facilitate a much needed recovery. The results from the summit were unremarkable, but were welcomed by financial markets. The euro regained some strength against the dollar and stock markets remained on the positive trend they have been on since the end of December. Investors remain cautious but they seem to think that Europe is on the right track now. This was illustrated by the French and Spanish debt auctions of Thursday at which demand exceeded supply and borrowing costs turned out lower than at previous auctions. None of this means that Europe is out of the woods. Europe is muddling through at the moment, while necessary measures are being taken to avoid immediate crisis, it is unlikely that these measures will facilitate a quick recovery.
The fact that the European leaders are focusing their agenda more on growth now seems to be an additional step in the right direction. The Euro Area is likely in recession at the moment and the jobs agenda is becoming more important than ever. The Euro Area unemployment rate currently stands at 10.4 percent, which is unchanged from a revised November figure, but is also the highest rate in 14 years. The large differences within Europe also once again surfaced with this release, as Germany actually saw its unemployment rate decrease, while the Italian, French, Portuguese and Greek rates are still on the rise. Spain saw an unchanged unemployment rate, but has the highest in the European Union at 22.9 percent. It also had its GDP numbers for the fourth quarter of 2011 come out and saw a contraction of 0.3 percent. While all of Europe is feeling the crisis in some way at the moment, there is definitely a split between core and periphery countries.