Catalonia in recession as GDP shrinks in first quarter
Economy falls by 4.3% from last year according to Catalan Statistics Institute
Economy falls by 4.3% from last year according to Catalan Statistics Institute
According to official data released by the Catalan Ministry of Economics and the Statistical Institute of Catalonia (Idescat), the Catalan economy grew by 0.5% between and July and September 2014, the latest in six consecutive quarters of positive economic growth. A signal that the recession is far left behind. The whole of Spain also grew by 0.5% in the same 3 months. In annual terms, Catalonia's GDP has grown by 1.8%, mainly thanks to the boost by the services sector,which has demonstrated an annual growth of 2.4%. The sector of industry grew by 1.5% and those of construction and agriculture decreased by -2.6% and -1% respectively. Idescat’s previous predictions for 2014 quarters has been reviewed: the 0.5% initially estimated for the first quarter increased to 0.7%, while the 0.6% for the second quarter dropped to 0.5%.
The Catalan economy grew by 0.4% in the first quarter of 2014, which means that GDP has been increasing for the last 4 consecutive quarters, leaving recession far behind, according to an early estimate published on Monday by Catalonia’s Statistics Institute (Idescat) and the Catalan Ministry of the Economy and Knowledge. Furthermore, between March 2013 and March 2014, Catalonia’s economy grew by 0.8%. In the second quarter of 2013 it registered a quarterly growth of 0.1%; in the third it also posted a 0.1% quarterly growth; between October and December, it increased by 0,2%; and now, between January and March, it grew by 0.4%. The services sector has been the main engine behind this positive trend; in the last 12 months it grew by 1.4%.
The Catalan economy has continued on a positive trend during the fourth quarter of 2013, also speeding up the recovery process. According to data released on Friday by the Catalan Ministry of Economy and Knowledge alongside the Catalan Institute of Statistics (Idescat), Catalonia’s GDP grew by 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2013, while the Spanish average stood at 0.3%. In the whole year, the Catalan GDP has decreased by 0.6 %, while in 2012 it dropped by 1.3%. The continued good results in exports due to the increasing external demand and the improvement of the domestic demand have driven the economy forward.
The Catalan Government has presented its budget proposal for 2014, which posts a 1% deficit, representing a 35.5% annual reduction and amounting to €1.98 billion, in line with the 2014 deficit targets imposed by the Spanish Government. The budget prioritises healthcare, education and social policies, which represent 71% of the total non-financial spending. Non-financial spending grows by 0.2% and reaches €20.30 billion, while the total spending amounts to €29.31 billion. The Catalan Finance Minister stressed that spending had not been reduced this year since in the last 3 years it had already dropped by 22%. Budget cuts “have reached their limit”, as otherwise “social cohesion” and “the Welfare State” would “be at risk” he said. In 2014 the Catalan Executive will spend the same per inhabitant as it was doing in 2004 taking into account inflation (€1,901).The adjustment for 2014 focuses on increasing revenue by €3.2 billion, mostly through new taxes (€910 million) and the sales of assets and privatisations (€2.32 billion). On top of this, the Catalan Government forecasts a 0.9% economic growth for 2014, leaving behind the recession of 2012 (-1.2%) and 2013 (-1.1%).
According to the Catalan Institute of Statistics (Idescat), Catalonia’s economy grew by 0.1% between July and September. For the first time in 9 quarters, the Catalan economy is growing again, leaving behind the technical recession. However, in annual terms, Catalonia’s GDP has not recovered yet and at the end of September it posted a 0.6% decrease on data from September 2012. Besides, the Spanish Institute of Statistics (INE) confirmed that the Spanish Economy also grew by 0.1% in the third quarter of the year, a figure which had been advanced last week by the Bank of Spain. In annual terms, the Spanish economy dropped by 1.2% compared to data from September 2012.
According to data released by the Catalan Finance Ministry, the Catalan economy has stopped the fall in GDP during the second quarter of 2013, since it remained at the same rate of the previous quarter. There has been a slow strengthening of the Catalan economy over the last few months: the fourth quarter of 2012 saw a reduction of 0.7%, the first quarter of 2013 GDP only shrunk by 0.1% and during the second quarter it remained stable at 0% growth. The improvement has been due to the industrial sector, particularly thanks to the exportation of goods which made up for the sustained falling of domestic demand. However, compared to the same figures for last year, the Catalan economy decreased by 1.3%.
Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce has presented the results of the economic situation of Catalonia during the second quarter of the year. It is estimated that GDP rose by 0.1% on the second quarter, following 18 months of negative growth. President of the Chamber, Miquel Valls, attributes this increase to a new economic model based upon high levels of tourism and exportation, which has boosted activity in the industrial sector. Regarding outlook for the third quarter, the Chamber expects this growth to continue which will improve the business climate within Catalonia.
Catalonia’s GDP decreased by 0.3% between January and March 2013, while the Spanish economy dropped by 0.7% in the same period. The Catalan figure represents a more gentle drop compared to the last quarter of 2012, when the Catalan economy plummeted by 0.7%. However, looking at the annual figures, results from March 2013 represent a 1.9% drop compared to March 2012. Exports and tourism are the main economic engines. However, the improvement is also due to the fact that domestic consumption continued to post negative figures but they were still better than in the previous months. The data are early estimations calculated by the Catalan Statistics Institute (Ideascat) and the Catalan Economy Ministry, released on Friday.
The Institut Català de Finances (ICF), the Catalan Government’s financial institution which offers credit, announced that it gave €1.7 billion in loans to 8,500 companies over the last two years in an Action Plan. The plan’s main objective is to foster economic activity and prevent companies from going bankrupt due to liquidity issues. 98% of those who received loans were SMEs and independent workers. The ICF’s Action Plan had the objective of injecting liquidity into the real economy, into the Catalan business network, while the private banks are going through their restructuring process and access to credit is particularly difficult for many companies.
According to the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE), the Catalan GDP fell by 1% last year. However, according to the Catalan Statistics Institute (Idescat), it dropped by 1.3%. Regarding Spain’s economy, the INE declared that it fell by 1.4% while the Idescat indicates it plummeted by 1.9%. The reason for these differences is that data from both institutes are based on estimates and are still provisional. In any case, Catalonia is one of the Autonomous Communities with the mildest recession in Spain and continues to be that with the highest GDP, €198.63 billion. In addition, Catalonia is among those with the highest GDP per capita, set at €27,248 while the Spanish average was €22,772.
Economic recession hit Catalonia even harder in 2012 than in 2011, when it dropped by 0.7%. The contraction was especially severe in the last quarter of the year. In December, Catalonia’s GDP plummeted by 0.6% compared to 3 months previously. The fourth quarter’s poor figures made the Catalan economy contract by 1.3% over 2012. In 2011, it also decreased but at a slower pace, dropping by 0.7%. For the whole of Spain, the economy plummeted by 1.8% in 2012 and by 0.7% over the last quarter of the year, compared to the figures from September 2012. The main reason behind the last quarter’s drop is the decrease in consumption by families, compared to the purchases made in the third quarter, before the VAT increase.
The Catalan economy contracted by 0.3% between July and September, although its results improved slightly compared to the previous quarter, when it shrunk by 0.5%. The tourism sector continues to grow and internal consumption continues to drop. Compared to a year ago, by the end of September, Catalan GDP has fallen by 1.4%.