... unlss you count policymakers. And politicians. And probably some of their analysts. And anyone who believed said politicians' "Stay the course! Prosperity is coming back!" PR we've been subjected to these past few months.
Details below the non-Euclidean orange holy symbol of Cthulhu.
1. Teh Numbers
According to Eurostat data, the EU growth rates are as follows: Compared to the previous quarter (Q4/2013) the Euro Area has experienced growth of 0.2%, and the EU-28 as a whole has experienced growth of 0.3%. Compared with the first quarter of the previous year (YoY) the rates are 0.9% and 1.4%.
All the numbers are in the link, but the most salient points are as follows:
Germany has been the strongest Eurozone performer, with a GDP growth of 0.8% (2.3 year-on-year, based on last year's first-quarter GDP). France has been stagnating, with a 0% growth (0.8% YoY). More interestingly, the Netherlands and Finland have experienced GDP declines (-1.4%0.5 YoY% for the Netherlands, -0.4$-0,8% YoY for Finland). Estonia is likewise in recession (-1.2%-1.5% YoY). While all the data are not available for Greece, a YoY estimate of -1.1% has been provided. Oh, yes, Cyprus is likewise experiencing a decline in GDP (-0.7%-4.1% YoY).
On the plus side, Spain has been experiencing (mild) GDP growth of 0.4%0.6% YoY. Portugal, conversely, has experiencing a -0.7% fall in GDP, but nonetheless a 1.2% growth compared to the first quarter of 2013.
Outside the Euro Area, Poland and Hungary have been the strongest performers (1.1%/3.5% YoY for Poland, 1.1%/3.2% YoY for Hungary), with Latvia growing at 0.7%/2.4% YoY), Estonia's GDP declining by both measures (-1.2%-1.5% YoY), and the UK growing by 0.8%/3.1% YoY.
2. Teh Comment
These numbers, to put it bluntly, aren't good, particularly since we have a surprisingly poor showing in two northern economies (the Netherlands and Finland) on the eve of European elections. The stagnation in France is just as worrying. Basically, the only one within the euro area who can really be happy about their lot at this point is Germany.
And that is not a good thing.
Basically, the most vocal and widespread opposition to current policies has taken the form of extreme right parties (think Hungary's Jobbik, France's Front National, Germany's AfD, to a degree, and so on), with the sensible left being far weaker, particularly since some of the leftist parties are intent on proving that political space is spherical, and that they're coming out the other side (they memorably signed off on the Crimean referendum, sending observers to Crimea via an... ahem... not-very-impartial NGO (Die Linke and the Communist Party of Greece deserve a dishonorable mention here.
Basically, the alternative to the current crop of politicians and their policies which is best positioned to take advantage of the current mess is not a sensible left, but a hard-right freak show. That could cause trouble, as there is literally no way to dissolve the euro and shift to their "Europe of Fatherlands) without sending the economy into a tailspin and force the member states into a vicious cycle of dampening the crisis by screwing the other members, which probably won't help with that whole peace, love, and comity of nations thing.