The Euro-Zone: The NS Guide to the Vital Statistics

By Grant, Will; Framer, Jon | New Statesman (1996), January 7, 2002 | Go to article overview

The Euro-Zone: The NS Guide to the Vital Statistics


Grant, Will, Framer, Jon, New Statesman (1996)


The euro, which was introduced on 1 January (at an exchange rate of 61.07p), is intended to consolidate the European Union as the world's second economic superpower, rivalling the United States in both size and influence: a population of nearly 300 million in a single market accounting for 18.6% of trade worldwide and 19.4% of GDP. It has been launched with a great fanfare of ... sluggish domestic demand, a downturn in external demand, high unemployment, global economic slowdown and recession-in short, a deteriorating economic climate. So how is the euro-zone coping? How is the euro perceived from within?

UK figures (for comparison) GDP annual growth rate: 2.1% Inflation: 1.8% Unemployment: 5.1% Public spending (as % of GNP): 42% The UK interest rate is 4% against the European Central Bank's 3.25%

Graphic: Art House Technical

 
                         Ireland                 Belgium 
GDP annual growth rate:  6.1%                    0.9% 
Inflation:               5.5%                    1.8% 
Unemployment:            3.7%                   10.8% 
Public Spending:        35.4% of GNP            45.6% of GNP 
Description:             "Think euro-the change  In a country that has 
                         is in your pocket"      always considered 
                         reads the Irish         itself at the heart 
                         Information drive,      of Europe, the euro 
                         currently appearing     commands more than 70% 
                         everywhere from         support. Belgians are 
                         billboards to radio.    accustomed to monetary 
                         Since Ireland joined in union, 
                         the mid-1970s, it has   having shared a 
                         been the economic       currency with 
                         over the past eight     Luxembourg since 1920. 
                         years. 
 
                         France                  Spain 
GDP annual growth rate:  2.0%                    2.9% 
Inflation:               1.3%                    2.8% 
Unemployment:            8.9%                   12.9% 
Public Spending:        49.9% of GNP              39% of GNP 
Description:             Despite threats of      While many mourn the 
                         strikes from the        loss of the peseta, for 
                         banking workforce-who   some time in Spain 
                         want better wages and   there has 
                         training to handle the  been a general 
                         changeover-French       resignation to the 
                         support for the euro,   inevitable. When its 
                         at around               membership of the euro 
                         60%, is fractionally    was announced, Spain 
                         greater than the        became awash with 
                         average for all 15      dinero negro-money 
                         European states.        hidden 
                                                 from the taximan-as 
                                                 cash was frantically 
                                                 invested in luxury 
                                                 goods and 
                                                 property before E-day, 
                                                 presaging a mini-boom. 
 
                         Portugal                Netherlands 
GDP annual growth rate:  1.8%                    0.4% 
Inflation:               4.1%                    4.9% 
Unemployment:            4.3%                    2.0% 
Public Spending:          42% of GNP            40.4% of GNP 
Description:             Slow economic growth,   The country that hosted 
                         heralding sharp cuts    the negotiations for 
                         in public spending,     the Maastricht and 
                         brought the leadership  Amsterdam treaties is 
                         of Antonio Guterres and one 
                         his minority centreleft of the most 
                         Socialist Party         enthusiastic 
                         government to an abrupt cheerleaders for the 
                         end on 16 December. … 

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