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ECONOMIC NEWS

European Commission Economic Sentiment Indicator and Capacity Utilisation, August 2021:  The European Commission (EC) draws from a range of surveys to construct confidence indicators for six sectors of the economy and then uses five of these (financial services is not included in the ESI) to compile its Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI).  Because of the data collection periods, the reference month (August) is that of publication but the data really refers to July.

The (ESI) came down in August from the all-time high (the survey started in 1985) that was recorded in July for both the Euro-zone and the EU as a whole.  However, it is still at a strong level and the employment expectation indicator improved to its highest level since November 2018.

There was a mixture of trends with confidence in industry, services and among consumers easing, broadly flat for the retail trade and improving only in construction - it had fallen back slightly in the latter group in July so this may just be a timing issue, perhaps related to seasonal adjustment;  confidence in the financial services sector, which is not part of the calculation for the ESI, fell sharply in August. 

The industry sector (broadly manufacturing) only saw a small fall in the ESI and, as can be seen on the chart, it is still at an historically high level.  The EC uses three questions to calculate the confidence indicator and for August, although expectations about output in the coming 3 months edged up further, the assessments of both total order books and stocks of finished goods both eased from the peak levels that were recorded in the previous survey.  Although not part of the calculation, the report notes that export order books eased slightly but output over the past 3 months showed a more marked fall.

Among the largest economies in the EU, there was a sharp fall in the overall ESI in France and the Netherlands with a smaller but still significant decline in Italy, Poland and Spain;  sentiment in Germany was only fractionally lower than in July.  Within the EU, only the Czech Republic and Slovakia have the ESI below the long-run (since 2000) average, with Bulgaria just on the average level;  the EC also publishes the ESI for candidate countries and, among these, both North Macedonia and Turkey are below their long-run average level.

You can download the EC report from their web-site at https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/indicators-statistics/ec... or it can be requested from MTA.