The European economy contracted 0.6 percent in the first three months of the year as slow vaccine rollouts and extended lockdowns delayed a hoped-for recovery.
The contraction in the 19 countries that use the euro currency compares to a robust rebound underway in the United States. Growth figures announced Thursday showed the US grew 1.6 percent during the first quarter, with business supported by strong consumer demand. On an annualized basis, the US grew 6.4 percent.
The second straight quarter of falling output, following contraction in the fourth quarter of 2021, confirms Europe's double-dip pandemic recession. Two-quarters of falling output is one definition of a recession.
One factor in Europe is a slow vaccine rollout and prolonged lockdowns. Another is less government support for the economy. US President Joe Biden’s USD 1.9 billion relief package, coupled with spending from earlier support efforts, will mean additional cash support of about 11-12 percent of annual economic output for this year, according to economists at UniCredit bank. By contrast, the European fiscal stimulus amounts to about 6 percent of gross domestic product.
First Published: IST