According to Eurostat calculations published last Friday, the economies of the eurozone and the European Union as a whole increased by 0.3 and 0.4 percent respectively in the fourth quarter of 2014 from the third quarter. Also on Friday, Statistics Netherlands announced a 0.5 percent growth of the Dutch economy in the same period. Year-on-year growth for the fourth quarter was 1.0 percent in the Netherlands. The economies of the eurozone and the European Union grew by 0.9 and 1.3 percent year-on-year.
Growth in many European countries
With the exception of Greece, Cyprus and Finland, all economies in the eurozone grew in the fourth quarter compared with the previous quarter. The Greek economy shrank for the first time in 2014, by 0.2 percent. The Cypriot economy showed negative growth, -0.7 percent, continuing the negative trend of previous quarters. The Finnish economy did not show a clear trend in 2014: after two quarters of recovery, the Finnish economy shrank by 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the previous quarter.
Economic growth in Germany and France
The German economy continues to perform above the European average. Last Friday, the German statistical office (Destatis) reported 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter growth for German GDP in the last quarter of 2014. The increase was mainly driven by the domestic market: investment in construction and consumption rose sharply. Exports also grew, but this was countered by higher imports.
Insee, the French statistical office, announced a 0.1 percent economic increase in the fourth quarter. Both consumption and international trade contributed positively to this growth. Investment fell and therefore contributed negatively. The French economy had also increased in the third quarter of 2014.
Spain continues economic recovery
Several European countries had already published fourth quarter economic growth. In Spain, the economic recovery seems to be gaining force, with a growth of 0.7 percent from the previous quarter. This is the sixth consecutive quarter of Spanish growth. The British economy has also been growing since the first quarter of 2013; the growth rate tapered slightly to 0.5 percent in the last quarter of last year. In Belgium, the economy also continues to grow, although more slowly: 0.1 percent.
Eurozone and the Netherlands still below pre-crisis level
Both Dutch and eurozone GDP are still almost 2 percent below the level of before the crisis, at the beginning of 2008. Initially, the German economy, the largest in the eurozone recovered quickly after the crisis. However, since the beginning of 2011, German growth has slowed down; the net increase is 4 percent since the beginning of the crisis in 2008. The British economy has grown by 3.4 percent compared with the pre-crisis level. Belgium and France have also completely recovered from the economic recession. Alongside the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy have not yet fully recovered from the economic crisis that started in 2008.
US economy shows strong post-crisis growth
In January, the United States announced 0.7 percent quarter–on-quarter growth in the fourth quarter. Since the crisis, the American economy has grown substantially, with only minor setbacks in the first quarters of 2011 and 2014. American GDP is now 9 percent above the level of before the crisis, seven years ago.
Following a quick recovery between 2009 and 2012, the growth of the Russian economy has slowed down recently. Although the impact of the economic crisis of 2009 was extensive, for some years now the Russian economy has been larger than it was before the crisis. Lastly, Japan seemed to have found the way up at the beginning of 2014, but dipped below the 2008 pre-crisis level in the second and third quarters of 2014. Last Friday, Russia and Japan had not yet released the growth figures for the last quarter of 2014.
All figures in this article have been adjusted for working-day and seasonal effects.