Economic situation

From this page you can access thematically grouped Analytical Articles published in the Economic Bulletin from 1999, ordered by date of dissemination within each year.

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  • 03/12/2019
    Global impact of a slowdown in China (312 KB) Xu Bing, Moritz Roth and Daniel Santabárbara

    Given its systemic importance, a sharp and sustained economic slowdown in China affects the world economy, not only on account of its share of global GDP, but also because of its links with other economies through trade, the commodities markets and, on a more incipient level, the global financial system. Developments in China also have indirect effects on global uncertainty and confidence. This article presents various simulations of the negative impact that a sharper slowdown in the Chinese economy than expected by the main analysts would have on the global economy and, especially, on the euro area. Specifically, a further slowdown in annual growth of 1 pp in China would give rise to a decline in global growth of 0.4 pp in a year, with particularly marked effects on commodities producers and on the Asian economies.

  • 29/11/2019
    Results of non-financial corporations in 2018 and in the first three quarters of 2019 (583 KB) Álvaro Menéndez and Maristela Mulino

    According to the annual survey of the Central Balance Sheet Data Office (CBA), the activity of non-financial corporations remained on an upward trend in 2018, although it was a more moderate one than in the preceding year. The quarterly survey (CBQ) suggests that this slowdown intensified in the first nine months of 2019, which translated into smaller increases in ordinary profit and employment than in the previous year. In this connection, the return on ordinary activities, which had increased slightly in 2018, remained relatively stable in the first three quarters of this year. Extraordinary costs and revenues, meanwhile, had a positive impact on the net profit for 2018, but had the opposite effect in the first nine months of 2019. Also a change in trend is observed in the financial position of corporations, insofar as average debt ratios continued to decline in 2018, but rose in the first nine months of 2019. Finally, the debt burden ratio declined in both periods, driven mainly by the ongoing decline – albeit at a slowing pace – in financial costs. This article includes two boxes, the first of which analyses the economic and financial performance of SMEs on the basis of data to 2018. The second box studies the degree of financial vulnerability of the Spanish corporate sector and its sensitivity to a hypothetical deterioration in the macrofinancial scenario.

  • 25/11/2019
    A crisis early warning model for euro area countries (340 KB) Jose González Mínguez and Carmen Martínez Carrascal

    The article summarises the findings obtained in the estimation of an economic crisis early warning model for the euro area countries. These findings show that monitoring five variables that may indicate the emergence of macro-financial imbalances – current account balance, unit labour costs relative to the rest of the euro area, household indebtedness, corporate indebtedness and sovereign risk premium – helps facilitate the early detection of downturns in the euro area countries. As expected, the model points to a widespread euro area-wide increase in the probability of a decline in activity towards the middle of the last decade, just before the start of the Great Recession. Compared with the core euro area economies, the increase in crisis probability was much more pronounced in the periphery countries, driven by a worsening of the current account balance, growing private sector indebtedness and deteriorating competitiveness. In several of these economies, the probability of downturn predicted by the model heightened in 2011-2012, coinciding with the successive sovereign debt crisis episodes. Since then the probabilities of downturn have moderated substantially and are now low in most countries, albeit in some cases still above those observed at the turn of the century.

  • 17/10/2019
    Tariff protectionist measures and Spanish goods exports (616 KB) Eduardo Gutiérrez Chacón and César Martín Machuca

    The rise in global protectionist tensions in recent years has, after decades of across-the-board declines, entailed increases in tariffs that are proving detrimental to international trade and thereby affecting the Spanish economy’s external sector outlook. This article estimates the effect of tariffs on Spanish non-energy, non-EU goods exports drawing on data broken down by country of destination and type of product. The results show that an increase in tariffs adversely impacts both export possibilities and, persistently, export values. On the estimates made, a 1% increase in import tariffs imposed by another country on a Spanish product entails a reduction in nominal exports of around 0.6%. Protectionist risks underscore the role of the EU in promoting international trade agreements, such as those recently entered into with Japan, Canada and Mercosur.

  • 26/09/2019
    Results of non-financial corporations to 2019 Q2 (491 KB) Álvaro Menéndez

    On information from the Central Balance Sheet Data Office Quarterly Survey (CBQ), activity at non-financial corporations slowed in 2019 Q1, with gross value added (GVA) increasing very moderately (0.4%), below that posted in the same period last year. Employment continued to rise (0.6%), but also at a slower pace than in 2018. In this setting, the return on investment ratio declined slightly, while debt ratios rose somewhat, reversing the downward trend of recent years. However, the decline in average borrowing costs, together with the slight growth in profit, led to a further decrease in the debt burden ratio, down to all-time lows in the CBQ historical series. The article includes a box which shows that the average headcount at Spanish firms in 2017 stood below the pre-crisis level. However, despite this aggregate performance, a significant proportion of firms were able to increase their headcount during the period analysed.

  • 18/09/2019
    The relationship between average annual and quarter-on-quarter GDP growth rates: implications for projections and macroeconomic analysis (296 KB) José González Mínguez and Carmen Martínez Carrascal

    The average annual growth rate of GDP can be formulated algebraically as a weighted average of the quarter-on-quarter growth rates of the preceding and the current year. Sometimes this can give rise to counterintuitive results and misinterpretations of how the economy is evolving. For example, a given sequence of GDP growth rates, in quarter-on-quarter terms, in the current year, may give rise to very different average annual rates depending on the trajectory of GDP in the preceding year. Also, with given quarter-on-quarter growth figures for the four quarters of a particular year, average GDP growth will be higher, the earlier in the year that the largest quarter-on-quarter increases occur.
    In the context of macroeconomic projections, analysis tends to focus on average annual GDP growth rates, insofar as they offer a summarised version of the outlook. However, it should be noted that revisions to the current year’s projections with a particular sign (for example, upwards) may reflect changes of two types: first, the publication of new, more favourable National Accounts data for past quarters; and second, a downward revision to growth prospects for the remaining quarters of the year. Therefore, it would be a mistake to conclude from the mere observation of an upward revision to average annual growth that the economic outlook has improved.

  • 11/09/2019
    Banco de España macroeconomic projections: comparison with an econometric model (221 KB) Gergely Ganics and Eva Ortega

    The forecasting of macroeconomic variables is an important task of the Banco de España for the satisfactory monitoring of the economic situation. Macroeconomic projections are made by combining various econometric models with expert judgement. This article compares the Spanish GDP growth and inflation projections published by the Banco de España with those that would be obtained automatically from an alternative econometric model. This exercise reveals that the Banco de España’s projections surpass those of the econometric model in terms of how closely they coincide with the variables predicted (GDP and inflation), i.e. they have smaller prediction forecasting errors. This confirms that the information provided by expert opinion improves the accuracy of projections, above all in short time horizons and, in particular, in predictions of GDP growth. It is also found that, in the past decade, the accurate prediction of inflation has been considerably more difficult than that of GDP growth.

  • 01/08/2019
    Recent developments in the rental housing market in Spain (581 KB) David López-Rodríguez and María de los Llanos Matea

    The proportion of the population living in rental housing in Spain is low compared with the main EU economies. However, in recent years there has been a perceptible rising trend in the relative weight of rental housing in the Spanish residential market. The most significant and dynamic aspects of this development are concentrated in specific groups (essentially young households, immigrants and temporary workers) and specific areas (above all in Madrid, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands). One key factor behind the rise in the demand – especially among young households – for residential rentals is the difficulties lower-income groups face in raising their income. This is due to still-high unemployment, the scant duration of new employment contracts and the greater significance of shorter contract hours. The reduction in the average loan-to-value ratios of new mortgages, the concentration of economic activity in geographical areas with a rigid supply of residential housing and the tax arrangements associated with housing are other factors that have contributed to a notable increase in demand in the market for residential rentals in Spain. The rise in demand concentrated in specific markets set against a relatively rigid supply of residential rentals in the short term would explain the dynamism of rental prices in these locations. Such robust demand in specific markets has been countered only in part by the increase in private supply following the entry of new professionalised agents in the rental market. Encouraging these new entrants will have been the increase in the gross return on residential rentals in the 2014-2017 period. The diminished buoyancy of supply has come about against the background of the weak public supply of rentals, marked by the emergence of alternative sources for residential housing such as the holiday rental. For a fuller analysis of the residential rental market in Spain, greater socio-demographic and economic information would be needed – including rental prices – at the municipal level or with the greatest geographical breakdown possible.

  • 24/07/2019
    Recent developments in financing and bank lending to the non-financial private sector (578 KB) Pana Alves, Fabián Arrizabalaga, Javier Delgado and Irene Roibás

    This is the first of a series of analytical articles that will examine, on a half-yearly basis, recent developments in funds raised by the Spanish non-financial private sector and resident deposit institutions’ credit exposure to the sector. In the early months of 2019, the conditions of access to bank finance for Spanish firms and households remained highly accommodative; however, after several years in which these conditions had gradually eased, signs are now emerging that suggest that this tendency may be coming to an end. Nevertheless, deposit institutions’ total outstanding credit exposure to the non-financial private sector continued to decline in 2019 Q1 (2.1% year-on-year). The NPL ratio also continued to fall.

  • 11/07/2019
    Financial position of euro area households in 2018 (371 KB) Ana del Río and José Antonio Cuenca

    Drawing on the accounts for the institutional sectors, this article describes how euro area households’ income, savings, borrowing and financial wealth evolved in 2018. The improvement in the labour market and the more dynamic wage performance continued to boost household income and this, together with the increase in asset (especially housing) values, and against a backdrop of very low interest rates, sustained household expenditure. The saving rate rose slightly in the euro area overall, although with considerable differences between countries. Households’ demand for finance continued to grow at a moderate pace, resulting in a slight dip in their debt-to-income ratio.

  • 20/06/2019
    Results of non-financial corporations in 2019 Q1 (717 KB) Álvaro Menéndez

    On information from the Banco de España Central Balance Sheet Data Office Quarterly Survey (CBQ), activity at non-financial corporations remained expansionary in 2019 Q1, although some indicators point to a certain degree of deceleration. Employment continued to rise, but also at a slower pace than in 2018. In this setting, corporate profitability ratios held steady, while borrowing costs declined again, prompting a further slight widening of the spread between return on investment and the cost of debt. Debt ratios rose somewhat, reversing the downward pattern of recent years. Lastly, the decline in borrowing costs and the growth in profit led to a further decrease in the debt burden ratio, down to all-time lows in the CBQ historical series. The article includes a box that analyses certain aspects of the recent performance of SMEs in Spain, drawing on qualitative data taken from the ECB’s survey on access to finance of enterprises (SAFE).

  • 11/06/2019
    Financial flows and balance sheets of households and non-financial corporations in 2018 (530 KB) Víctor García-Vaquero and Juan Carlos Casado

    The Financial Accounts of the Spanish Economy (FASE) show that in 2018 households received positive net bank financing for the first time since 2011, mainly due to the increase in consumer credit and other lending, while their saving ratio continued to fall, to a new historical low. These developments were, however, compatible with a further reduction in household bank debt (to 59% of GDP, down 26 percentage points (pp) from its peak in 2010). At the same time, the gross financial wealth of households edged down, for the first time since 2012, mainly as a result of the fall in value of their holdings of financial instruments caused by the global financial market tensions in the latter months of 2018. As regards firms, although their total borrowing in consolidated terms was positive in 2018, their debt ratio fell to 75% of GDP at the end of the year (down 43 pp from its 2010 peak). The market value of the equity securities of firms fell by 4.1% in 2018. This fall, the first since 2008, was a consequence of moderate fund raising and especially of the decline in value of these liabilities, largely owing to the drop in stock market indices at the end of 2018 (this drop was, however, reversed in the first few months of 2019).

  • 23/05/2019
    The balance of payments and international investment position of Spain in 2018 (699 KB) Pana Alves, César Martín and Irene Roibás

    According to the balance of payments (BoP) statistics, in an environment of ongoing economic upturn, Spain was once again a net lender in 2018, albeit to a lesser extent than in preceding years. The decline in net lending is explained by the decrease in the goods and services surplus, which largely reflected the slowdown in external markets, the negative impact on exports of the cumulative euro appreciation since 2017 and the rise in oil prices. The nation’s net lending, the positive amount of other flows and GDP growth were conducive to a decline in the Spanish economy’s negative net international investment position (IIP), as a percentage of GDP, for the fourth year in succession. In terms of financial flows, international investors made net purchases under the portfolio investment (mainly, long-term bonds issued by general government) and direct investment headings in 2018, a sign of their continuing confidence in the Spanish economy, despite the deterioration in the global macro-financial scenario in the second half of the year. However, the fact that the Spanish economy’s negative net IIP remains high (77.1% of GDP), both historically and by international standards, makes it vulnerable to shocks in the international capital markets.

  • 09/05/2019
    The latest protectionist trade trends and their impact on the European Union (682 KB) Francesca Viani

    In an attempt to rebalance trade with China, the United States administration decided in early 2018 to introduce a series of protectionist measures affecting certain imports in particular. This gave rise to an escalation of US-China trade tensions. The new tariffs have affected a significant percentage of Chinese exports to the United States, but their impact on EU trade has only been marginal to date. The indirect effects on European economies through the global value chains have also been limited. However, possible tariff barriers on the automotive sector could raise the affected trade flows substantially.
    Simulations made with econometric models confirm that the tariff measures adopted to date would have relatively moderate direct effects on global economic activity and on EU countries. That said, the simulations also warn that a decrease in business confidence and an unfavourable reaction by international financial markets could amplify such adverse effects. Additionally, possible future auto sector tariffs could have a significant impact on European economies in an industry already facing important challenges associated with the structural and technological transformation process currently under way.

  • 09/05/2019
    World economic outlook for 2019 (698 KB) Pedro del Río and Esther Gordo

    Recent weaknesses in the world economy have prompted a downward revision of forecasts for 2019. The baseline projection scenario points to a widespread easing of growth, albeit more so in some areas than in others, against a backdrop of high uncertainty and significant downside risks. These include, most notably, the possible proliferation of protectionist measures, a disorderly no-deal Brexit, a sharper than expected slowdown in China or in the euro area, or a severe financial market adjustment. Any – or a combination – of these events could have a significant impact on the world economy, in a setting in which there is little room for manoeuvre in macroeconomic stabilisation policies.

  • 11/04/2019
    Recent housing market developments in Spain (1 MB) Pana Alves and Alberto Urtasun

    After the sharp correction during the crisis, activity in the Spanish real estate sector commenced its recovery in early 2014. This improving trend has since been observable both in quantity and price-based indicators. However, this market is well known for its high heterogeneity due to the location of the properties, their type and the nationality of purchasers. The recent buoyancy seems to reflect, among other factors, positive labour market developments and the low cost of borrowing against a backdrop of gradual growth of loans for house purchase.

  • 26/03/2019
    Results of non-financial corporations to 2018 Q4: preliminary year-end data (767 KB) Álvaro Menéndez and Maristela Mulino

    The activity of non-financial corporations remained on an upward trend in 2018, leading to overall increases in ordinary profit (ordinary net profit grew by 5%, up 0.3 pp from 2017) and employment, which were also seen in most sectors and firms. As a result of the good corporate earnings performance, average rates of return continued to improve, and the spread over the cost of borrowing widened further. Extraordinary revenue and costs had a positive impact on net profit in 2018, resulting in strong net profit growth. Average debt ratios, relative to assets and ordinary profit, fell. Lastly, the debt burden ratio also declined, driven by the lower cost of borrowing and the growth in surpluses. A box analysing the recent developments in trade credit and average payment and collection periods is included in this article.

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