Eurozone suffers 40.3% annualized contraction, greatest drop on record

The annualized contraction is in line with the 32.9 percent the U.S. economy suffered

The Eurozone suffered its greatest contraction on record, exceeding the U.S. economy’s record plunge.

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A report by the European Union’s statistics agency published a report on Friday that showed the trade zone’s GDP contracted by 12.1 percent during the three months through June, which is equivalent to 40.3 percent annualized. That exceeded the U.S. economy’s equivalent 32.9 percent contraction, the Wall Street Journal reported. While most countries report GDP changes between quarters, the U.S. extrapolates GDP over a full year, which makes it easier to compare GDP in different time periods.

The contraction marks the greatest drop in the Eurozone’s GDP since records began in 1995. The largest drops were concentrated in April and May during the most severe lockdown measures in some countries.

SECOND-QUARTER GDP PLUNGES 32.9%, WORST DECLINE ON RECORD

The number accounts for the 19-country Eurozone and not the European Union as a whole, though. The wider European Union's GDP shrank 11.9 percent.

Members who use the Euro had varying levels of contraction. Italy suffered the hardest drop at 18.5 percent during the three month period. France and Portugal also endured steep declines.

Germany, the largest of the countries that use the euro, went through a 10.1% decline, the biggest since records started in 1970.

FED UNDERSCORES SUPPORT FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY THREATENED BY CORONAVIRUS RESURGENCE

The loss of GDP is a direct effect of the lockdown measures enforced during the coronavirus pandemic, but European consumers and businesses appear to be gaining confidence, supported by aggressive stimulus and job-protection schemes.

Last week, European leaders agreed on a 750 billion euros ($884.06 billion) recovery fund, with the European Central Bank additionally printing 1.35 trillion euros ($1.591 trillion) to add to the economy.

CONSUMER SPENDING RISES, BUT RECOVERY IS RESTRAINED

“The business in Europe has been and currently is stronger than in the U.S.,” Bjørn Gulden, chief executive of German sports-goods maker Puma SE, told reporters Wednesday. In the U.S., demand has varied widely from state to state, he said.

But the outlook is for a long and uncertain climb back to pre-virus levels that could take until 2022 or longer. Company forecasts for the rest of the year assumed that there is not a renewed outbreak of COVID-19.

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“All the growth in GDP seen in the 2010-2019 decade has been wiped out in five months,” said Marc Ostwald, chief economist at ADM Investor Services International. In Italy’s case, economists said it wiped out about 30 years of growth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.