Eurozone Slides Into Recession as Inflation Hurts Consumption | Kanebridge News
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,526,212 (+1.41%)       Melbourne $950,600 (-0.81%)       Brisbane $848,079 (+0.39%)       Adelaide $783,680 (+0.69%)       Perth $722,301 (+0.42%)       Hobart $727,777 (-0.40%)       Darwin $644,340 (-0.88%)       Canberra $873,193 (-2.75%)       National $960,316 (+0.31%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $711,149 (+0.79%)       Melbourne $480,050 (-0.07%)       Brisbane $471,869 (+1.52%)       Adelaide $395,455 (-0.79%)       Perth $396,215 (+0.44%)       Hobart $535,914 (-1.67%)       Darwin $365,715 (+0.11%)       Canberra $487,485 (+1.06%)       National $502,310 (+0.25%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,985 (+170)       Melbourne 11,869 (-124)       Brisbane 8,074 (+47)       Adelaide 2,298 (-22)       Perth 6,070 (+20)       Hobart 993 (+24)       Darwin 282 (-4)       Canberra 809 (+43)       National 39,380 (+154)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 7,927 (+125)       Melbourne 6,997 (+50)       Brisbane 1,822 (+3)       Adelaide 488 (+5)       Perth 1,915 (-1)       Hobart 151 (+3)       Darwin 391 (-9)       Canberra 680 (+5)       National 20,371 (+181)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750 (-$20)       Melbourne $580 ($0)       Brisbane $590 (+$10)       Adelaide $570 (-$5)       Perth $600 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 (+$5)       Canberra $670 (+$10)       National $633 (-$1)                    UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $700 (-$20)       Melbourne $558 (+$8)       Brisbane $590 ($0)       Adelaide $458 (-$3)       Perth $550 ($0)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $540 (-$10)       National $559 (-$4)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,224 (-134)       Melbourne 5,097 (+90)       Brisbane 3,713 (-84)       Adelaide 1,027 (-3)       Perth 1,568 (-46)       Hobart 471 (-3)       Darwin 127 (+13)       Canberra 658 (-32)       National 17,885 (-199)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,171 (-343)       Melbourne 5,447 (-170)       Brisbane 1,682 (-22)       Adelaide 329 (+3)       Perth 561 (-11)       Hobart 159 (-6)       Darwin 176 (+16)       Canberra 597 (-12)       National 17,122 (-545)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.56% (↓)       Melbourne 3.17% (↓)     Brisbane 3.62% (↑)        Adelaide 3.78% (↓)       Perth 4.32% (↓)     Hobart 3.93% (↑)      Darwin 5.65% (↑)      Canberra 3.99% (↑)        National 3.43% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.12% (↓)       Melbourne 6.04% (↓)       Brisbane 6.50% (↓)     Adelaide 6.02% (↑)        Perth 7.22% (↓)     Hobart 4.37% (↑)      Darwin 7.82% (↑)        Canberra 5.76% (↓)       National 5.79% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 1.0% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.8% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)        Perth 0.4% (↓)       Hobart 1.2% (↓)     Darwin 0.5% (↑)      Canberra 1.5% (↑)      National 0.8% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND         Sydney 1.3% (↓)     Melbourne 1.6% (↑)      Brisbane 0.9% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.7% (↑)      Hobart 2.2% 2.0% (↑)      Darwin 1.0% (↑)        Canberra 1.7% (↓)     National 1.3% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 27.0 (↑)        Melbourne 28.3 (↓)     Brisbane 32.3 (↑)      Adelaide 26.3 (↑)      Perth 34.9 (↑)        Hobart 33.4 (↓)     Darwin 48.7 (↑)        Canberra 27.6 (↓)     National 32.3 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 27.0 (↓)       Melbourne 29.0 (↓)     Brisbane 33.0 (↑)        Adelaide 27.5 (↓)     Perth 38.2 (↑)      Hobart 33.4 (↑)      Darwin 48.3 (↑)      Canberra 33.2 (↑)      National 33.7 (↑)            
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Eurozone Slides Into Recession as Inflation Hurts Consumption

Weaknesses in Germany and Ireland more than offset growth in other economies at the start of the year

Fri, Jun 9, 2023 8:29amGrey Clock 4 min

The eurozone has slipped into recession as Germany, its largest economy, wobbled, suggesting that the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine may have been deeper than expected earlier this year.

While the U.S. economy has so far brushed aside higher borrowing rates and continues to grow thanks to robust consumption, employment and an extended market rally, Europe is lagging ever further behind, stuck in the economic equivalent of long Covid. While the U.S. economy is now 5.4% larger than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the eurozone economy is just 2.2% bigger.

Inflation driven by a spike in energy costs and stubbornly high food prices has softened in Europe recently but remains much higher than policy makers would like and is affecting consumption negatively.

The weakness in Germany is a particular concern. In past decades, the country’s economy often managed to recover rapidly from economic shocks thanks to the strength of its highly competitive exporters.

But global trade has suffered under the Covid-19 pandemic and mounting geopolitical tensions, and it may not offer the same degree of support this time. Factory output in the country showed a steep drop in March. And the continuing war in Ukraine, a close neighbour, is another major source of uncertainty for the region.

Because of its size, the German economy on its own can drag the eurozone up or down. The eurozone’s slide into recession at the start of the year came in spite of growth in France, Italy and Spain, its other large economies.

Economists think all this points to a slow and protracted recovery for the continent later this year, where consumers and businesses are also feeling the drag from higher borrowing costs as the European Central Bank continues to raise interest rates to fight inflation. The eurozone’s slide into recession wasn’t so dramatic as to trigger a pause in the ECB’s rate-raising campaign, according to most analysts.

The European Union’s statistics agency said Thursday the combined gross domestic product of the countries that share the euro fell at an annualised 0.4% during the three months through March, having also declined in the final three months of last year.

Eurostat had previously estimated that the currency area’s economy grew slightly in the first quarter, but the sizeable change to the data from Germany and weakness in Ireland and Finland pushed it into contraction. This left the region with two consecutive quarters of shrinking output, matching the official definition of an economic recession.

Economists expect growth to resume in the three months through June as falling energy bills ease the pressure on household budgets, but any rebound is likely to be anaemic. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Wednesday said it expected the eurozone’s economy to grow 0.9% this year, roughly half as much as the U.S. economy.

The main difference between the eurozone and the U.S. is consumer spending. Americans are spending freely on the activities they skipped during pandemic lockdowns, such as travel, concerts and dining out. Unlike Europeans, they haven’t had to cut their spending on goods to be able to do so. In Europe, household spending fell in both the final quarter of last year, and the first quarter of 2023. Imports also fell sharply in both quarters, a sign that weakness in the eurozone is affecting businesses in other parts of the world.

One reason for the growing trans-Atlantic economic gap is the amount of savings Americans accumulated during the pandemic. Oxford Economics estimates that while excess savings in the U.S. stood at around 8.3% of annual economic output at the end of 2022, in the eurozone the equivalent was just over 5%. Americans have also been more willing to draw on those savings, with surveys showing Europeans are conscious of the uncertainties flowing from the war in Ukraine.

Back in Europe, while energy prices have normalised from their 2022 peaks, food prices have continued to rise at a rapid pace, weakening household spending on other goods and services. U.S. food prices have been rising half as quickly as their European equivalents so far this year.

The European Central Bank’s series of rate increases, which started in July last year, have now worked their way through the currency area’s financial system. The drag on growth from that source is likely to build during coming months, with the ECB signalling that it intends to raise its key interest rate for an eighth straight meeting next week.

“A peak in underlying inflation wouldn’t be sufficient to declare victory: We need to see convincing evidence that inflation returns to our 2% target in a sustained and timely manner,” ECB policy maker Isabel Schnabel said Wednesday. “We aren’t at that point yet.”

The OECD said it expects eurozone inflation to fall to 5.8% this year from 8.4% in 2022, but remain well above the ECB’s target at 3.2% in 2024.

One reason for the eurozone’s slide into recession is that Ireland—long the currency area’s fastest-growing economy—experienced a 44.7% decline in factory output during March, likely driven by U.S. pharmaceutical companies that operate in the country. That led to a 17.3% annualized fall in the country’s GDP during the first quarter.

Ireland’s statistics office hasn’t offered a reason for that drop in production, but figures it released Wednesday showed a rebound of 70.7% in April, suggesting the first-quarter contraction is unlikely to be sustained.

The eurozone’s poor economic performance so far this year partly reflects the costs of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year. The Russian economy contracted 2% last year and the OECD expects it to shrink a further 1.5% this year and 0.4% in 2024. Ukraine’s economy shrank by a third in 2022, and is likely to have suffered further damage following the destruction of a dam and hydroelectric plant in the country’s south this week.

In the U.S., unlike in Europe, a weakening of the jobs market is required before the National Bureau of Economic Research, an academic group, declares a recession. That has yet to happen in the eurozone, with employment increasing 0.6% during the first quarter.


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First, the good news for office landlords: A post-Labor Day bump nudged return-to-office rates in mid-September to their highest level since the onset of the pandemic.

Now the bad: Office attendance in big cities is still barely half of what it was in 2019, and company get-tough measures are proving largely ineffective at boosting that rate much higher.

Indeed, a number of forces—from the prospect of more Covid-19 cases in the fall to a weakening economy—could push the return rate into reverse, property owners and city officials say.

More than before, chief executives at blue-chip companies are stepping up efforts to fill their workspace. Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase are among the companies that have recently vowed to get tougher on employees who don’t show upIn August, Meta told employees they could face disciplinary action if they regularly violate new workplace rules.

But these actions haven’t yet moved the national return rate needle much, and a majority of companies remain content to allow employees to work at least part-time remotely despite the tough talk.

Most employees go into offices during the middle of the week, but floors are sparsely populated on Mondays and Fridays. In Chicago, some September days had a return rate of over 66%. But it was below 30% on Fridays. In New York, it ranges from about 25% to 65%, according to Kastle Systems, which tracks security-card swipes.

Overall, the average return rate in the 10 U.S. cities tracked by Kastle Systems matched the recent high of 50.4% of 2019 levels for the week ended Sept. 20, though it slid a little below half the following week.

The disappointing return rates are another blow to office owners who are struggling with vacancy rates near record highs. The national office average vacancy rose to 19.2% last quarter, just below the historical peak of 19.3% in 1991, according to Moody’s Analytics preliminary third-quarter data.

Business leaders in New York, Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and Houston interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said they have seen only slight improvements in sidewalk activity and attendance in office buildings since Labor Day.

“It feels a little fuller but at the margins,” said Sandy Baruah, chief executive of the Detroit Regional Chamber, a business group.

Lax enforcement of return-to-office rules is one reason employees feel they can still work from home. At a roundtable business discussion in Houston last week, only one of the 12 companies that attended said it would enforce a return-to-office policy in performance reviews.

“It was clearly a minority opinion that the others shook their heads at,” said Kris Larson, chief executive of Central Houston Inc., a group that promotes business in the city and sponsored the meeting.

Making matters worse, business leaders and city officials say they see more forces at work that could slow the return to office than those that could accelerate it.

Covid-19 cases are up and will likely increase further in the fall and winter months. “If we have to go back to distancing and mask protocols, that really breaks the office culture,” said Kathryn Wylde, head of the business group Partnership for New York City.

Many cities are contending with an increase in homelessness and crime. San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which are struggling with these problems, are among the lowest return-to-office cities in the Kastle System index.

About 90% of members surveyed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce said that the city couldn’t recover until homelessness and public safety problems were addressed, said Rachel Smith, chief executive. That is taken into account as companies make decisions about returning to the office and how much space they need, she added.

Cuts in government services and transportation are also taking a toll. Wait times for buses run by Houston’s Park & Ride system, one of the most widely used commuter services, have increased partly because of labor shortages, according to Larson of Central Houston.

The commute “is the remaining most significant barrier” to improving return to office, Larson said.

Some landlords say that businesses will have more leverage in enforcing return-to-office mandates if the economy weakens. There are already signs of such a shift in cities that depend heavily on the technology sector, which has been seeing slowing growth and layoffs.

But a full-fledged recession could hurt office returns if it results in widespread layoffs. “Maybe you get some relief in more employees coming back,” said Dylan Burzinski, an analyst with real-estate analytics firm Green Street. “But if there are fewer of those employees, it’s still a net negative for office.”

The sluggish return-to-office rate is leading many city and business leaders to ask the federal government for help. A group from the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition recently met with elected officials in Washington, D.C., lobbying for incentives for businesses that make commitments to U.S. downtowns.

Baruah, from the Detroit chamber, was among the group. He said the chances of such legislation being passed were low. “We might have to reach crisis proportions first,” he said. “But we’re trying to lay the groundwork now.”


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