Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics

Economy in Brief: April 2022

    • Gasoline leads nominal spending but falls in real terms.
    • Core price inflation eases m/m.
    • Wage & salary growth remains firm.
    • 56.4 in April vs. 62.9 in March; widespread drops in index components.
    • Production is at the lowest level since July 2020.
    • Employment remains below 50, indicating contraction for five straight months.
    • Price paid continues to be at an elevated level.
  • European Monetary Union (EMU) GDP growth logged a 0.8% gain in the first quarter of 2022 after rising by 1.2% in the fourth quarter of 2021. Both are annualized quarterly rates of expansion. The year-over-year growth rate in the first quarter of 2022 sits at 5%. This growth rate is substantially because of the extremely strong growth rates of over 9% logged in the third quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2021.

    Beginning with Q2 2022 data, these very strong growth rates are going to begin to fall out of the year-over-year calculation and, at that point, we will start looking at annualized European growth rates that are going to be a little bit more like the annualized quarterly rates that we see in the table below. For the last two quarters, for example, we are seeing GDP average something more like 1% at an annual rate. However, having two quarters out of four with quarterly growth rates over 9% right now pushes the annual rise in GDP up very strongly.

    The annual growth rate for the EMU shows 5% growth in the first quarter of 2022, up from 4.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021 and from 4.1% in the third quarter of 2021. That compares to a second quarter year-over-year growth rate at a 14.6% in the second quarter of 2021.

    Obviously, what we're seeing now is the transition away from those COVID-affected growth rates. Comparisons with the weak readings of GDP during the period of COVID are falling by the boards; however, the strong rates posted in the expansion after the COVID recession are still embedded in the year-over-year calculations. They are still affecting substantially the year-over-year growth rates; meanwhile, the last two quarters are showing us European growth that is coalescing at a 1% annual rate

    Yet, even with these lower growth rates of GDP, inflation in Europe continues to flare strongly. The European Central Bank still has a job to do. And based on the way GDP is evolving, it doesn't look like the excessive growth rate in GDP is to be blamed for the inflation pressures that have developed in Europe and have lingered. Supply chain problems, war, food scarcity and other industrial dislocations appear to be at work.

    Among the early six reporting European Monetary Union members, only Portugal is really knocking down eyepopping growth rates. Portugal had first quarter 2022 GDP growth at a 10.8% annualized rate, up from a 7% pace in the fourth quarter and that compares to an 11.2% pace and the third quarter of 2021. However, two EMU members, France and Italy, log GDP declines in the first quarter with France's quarterly GDP declining at a 0.2% annualized rate and Italy's GDP declining at a 0.7% annualized rate.

    The four largest EMU members (Germany, France, Italy, and Spain) grew at a pace of 0.3% annualized in the first quarter of 2022 and that compares to a 2.1% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2021. For the rest of EMU, growth in the first quarter came in at 2.1% pace compared with a decline at a 1.4% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2021. Both the four largest economies and the rest of the EMU had extremely strong rates of growth and the third quarter of 2021.

    Year-over-year growth rates for the countries in the table are still quite strong. For the most part, they were in the 90th percentile or higher in their queue of annual growth rates back to late-1997. The exception is Germany whose growth rate is only at the 85.9 percentile; that's a minor exception although it is the European Monetary Union's largest economy.

    • April decline led by orders and shipments.
    • Expected conditions also fell, for the first time in four months.
    • Inflation indicators continued to rise.
    • Int'l trade deficit subtracts near-record from total GDP.
    • Inventory decumulation is moderate.
    • Domestic demand picks up.
    • Initial claims fell 5,000 to 180,000.
    • Continued weeks claimed also eased to lowest in more than 50 years.
    • Insured unemployment rate retained record low of 1.0%.
    • Largest weekly decline since mid-February.
    • Meaningful declines in both purchase and refinancing applications.
    • Mortgage interest rates post significant weekly increases with 30-year rate rising to highest since mid-2009.
    • Sales decline to lowest level since May 2020.
    • Sales fall in most sections of the country.