Eurozone action remains key to growth recovery: OECD


PARIS — Top economies are slowing with the eurozone set to shrink briefly, and rapid action by European leaders to enact promised crisis measures is key to global recovery, the OECD said on Monday. The eurozone should also cut interest rates, and countries with stronger public finances undertake short-term measures to boost growth, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said. Days before the G-20 group of advanced economies meet for a summit in the French city of Cannes, the OECD called on leaders to take swift action to restore confidence in the markets. “Much of the current weakness is due to a generalized loss of confidence in the ability of policymakers to put in place appropriate responses,” the OECD said in a statement. “It is therefore imperative to act decisively to restore confidence and to implement appropriate policies to restore longer-term fiscal sustainability,” it added. The OECD lowered its forecast for U.S. growth to 1.7 percent this year from 2.6 percent, and to 1.8 percent from 3.1 percent for 2012. For the eurozone it now expects 1.6 percent growth this year instead of the 2 percent it forecast in May.

For next year it now sees 0.3-percent growth instead of 2 percent, warning that “patches of mild negative growth is likely in the euro area,” indicating that some countries may see short-term contractions. Japan is set for a 0.5-percent contraction this year followed by 2.1-percent growth in 2012, while China is set for 9.3-percent growth in 2011 and 8.6 percent next year. But the OECD said a prompt and forceful implementation of measures announced last week to stem the euro area crisis could lead to “a better upside scenario” of growth. “These measures go in the right direction and could help restore confidence and create positive feedback effects that could trigger a scenario of stronger growth,” said the OECD. It urged more detailed information on the measures, which include private investors taking a 50-percent hit on their holdings of Greek bonds, a recapitalization of banks, and a boost to the eurozone bailout fund. Interest rates should also be reduced where possible to further boost growth. While nations need to move on fiscal consolidation, the OECD urged they do so in the medium term in order to not cut off growth. “Given the downward risks to growth, it is important to anchor expectations about medium- and long-term fiscal discipline in a manner that allows for a temporary easing of the fiscal stance to buffer unexpected weakness,” said the OECD.