Following a deep recession in 2020 and further contraction in 2021Q1, the euro area economy recovered rapidly in the second and third quarters thanks to high vaccination levels, increasing household and business adaptability to the virus, and continued forceful policy support. Looking ahead, while supply chain disruptions, elevated energy prices, and resurgences of Covid-19 cases—including those related to the Omicron variant—are likely to pose near-term headwinds to growth, the recovery is set to continue in 2022 as the impact of the pandemic on economic activity continues to weaken over time and supply-side constraints ease. Medium-term output losses relative to pre-crisis trends will vary significantly across countries and sectors as will the extent of labor market scarring. Price pressures are building up as production bottlenecks are set to persist for a while. However, inflation—despite increasing significantly in recent months due to transitory factors—is projected to moderate during 2022 and remain below the ECB’s inflation target over the medium term. Uncertainty surrounding the outlook remains high and largely related to pandemic dynamics and legacies, including induced behavioral and preference changes.
Macroeconomic performance and buffers were strong when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Economic and social restrictions instituted in March 2020 helped slow new infections and mitigate negative health outcomes but triggered a deep decline in activity in Q2:2020. The slump was followed by a strong rebound in Q3 as the restrictions were eased. With the resurgence of the virus, pressures on the health system peaked in late-March 2021 and eased after a new round of restrictions. Going forward, the outlook is for a near-term economic recovery subject to large two-way risks. The strength and durability of the recovery hinges on the evolution of the health situation and the extent of economic scarring from the pandemic.
Mr. Benedicte Baduel, Asel Isakova, and Anna Ter-Martirosyan
Sharing economic benefits equitably across all segments of society includes addressing the specific challenges of different generations. At present, youth and elderly are particularly vulnerable to poverty relative to adults in their middle years. Broad-based policies should aim to foster youth integration into the labor market and ensure adequate income and health care support for the elderly. Turning to the intergenerational dimension, everyone should have the same chances in life, regardless of their family background. Policies that promote social mobility include improving access to high-quality care and education starting from a very early age, supporting lifelong learning, effective social protection schemes, and investing in infrastructure and other services to reduce spatial segregation.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the drivers of wage growth and inflation in Estonia. The analysis reveals that the role played by the inflation and inflation expectations in Estonia is different from those of the EU15. The impact of inflation on wage formation is smaller than in larger and richer countries with lower inflation volatility. This has limited the downward pressure on wages during the period of very low inflation in 2014–16. Although there has been an episode of wage growth leading inflation before the global financial crisis, the current simultaneous acceleration in prices and wages is not evidence of a developing wage-price spiral, as a significant share of the increase in inflation is owing to exogenous factors.