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The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

US reindustrialisation poses challenge for eurozone

Tuesday, 22 May 2012 Written by 
US reindustrialisation poses challenge for eurozoneA reindustrialisation process has been underway in the U.S. since 2009, linked to the trend in the profitability of industrial companies, wage costs and energy prices. It has already enabled the U.S. to regain market share in global trade, creating an additional problem for the euro zone given it is already faces market share losses to emerging countries and weak domestic demand. The euro-zone economy is therefore likely to be further weakened if it loses more export trade to the U.S. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

A reindustrialisation process has been underway in the U.S. since 2009, linked to the trend in the profitability of industrial companies, wage costs and energy prices. It has already enabled the U.S. to regain market share in global trade, creating an additional problem for the euro zone given it is already faces market share losses to emerging countries and weak domestic demand. The euro-zone economy is therefore likely to be further weakened if it loses more export trade to the U.S.

Reindustrialisation process under way in the U.S.

The reindustrialisation of the U.S. is evident from the upswing in productive investment and manufacturing employment as well as from the upturn in manufacturing output, which has outpaced the euro zone since the crisis. Yet – for the time being – U.S. reindustrialisation has mainly affected the automotive and capital goods sectors.

Growth of U.S. industry can be ascribed to three factors:

-       rapidly increasing profitability of industrial companies in the U.S.;

-       labour costs in industry, which are lower in the U.S. than in Germany or France;

-       and the low cost of energy thanks to the fall in the price of natural gas, due to shale gas production.

The United States is regaining export market share

The U.S. situation in terms of export market share has been improving since the end of 2008. It appears that the U.S. has increased its market share in global exports largely at the expense of the euro zone and Central European countries (CEEC). Since end-2008, the U.S. trade deficit with the euro zone, Asian emerging countries excluding China, other American countries and Japan has been shrinking, though its trade deficit with China has stopped deteriorating. But in terms of export market share, U.S. improvement seems to match the deterioration in Europe.

An additional problem for the euro zone

The euro zone is already faced with a decline in domestic demand as a result of the restrictive fiscal policies, a decline in real wages due to the rise in unemployment and a loss in market share to emerging countries.

So – any further losses in export market share to the U.S. will therefore come on top of these problems. A depreciation of the euro could obviously correct the euro zone’s loss of competitiveness (in terms of wages and the price of energy). However, even during periods when the euro-zone crisis is acute, the euro still remains overvalued against the dollar

Patrick Artus

A graduate of Ecole Polytechnique, of Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Adminstration Economique and of Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, Patrick Artus is today the Chief Economist at Natixis. He began his career in 1975 where his work included economic forecasting and modelisation. He then worked at the Economics Department of the OECD (1980), before becoming Head of Research at the ENSAE. Thereafter, Patrick taught seminars on research at Paris Dauphine (1982) and was Professor at a number of Universities (including Dauphine, ENSAE, Centre des Hautes Etudes de l'Armement, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and HEC Lausanne).

Patrick is now Professor of Economics at University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. He combines these responsibilities with his research work at Natixis. Patrick was awarded "Best Economist of the year 1996" by the "Nouvel Economiste", and today is a member of the council of economic advisors to the French Prime Minister. He is also a board member at Total and Ipsos.

Website: cib.natixis.com/research/economic.aspx

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