Euro zone economy shrinking at record pace

Lockdowns have the euro zone economy shrinking at a record rate.

And the worst may be yet to come.

A flash estimate Thursday (April 30) showed output contracting by 3.8% in the first three months of the year.

That’s the sharpest quarterly decline since records began in 1995.

But lockdowns were only in place for part of the period.

Now any lifting of restrictions is likely to be slow, and limited.

That means the numbers for the next three months are likely to be worse.

Some individual countries fared far worse than the region.

France’s economy shrank 5.8%.

Spain’s was 5.2% smaller.

There seems a clear correlation between the strictest lockdowns, and the biggest falls.

The effect on jobs and inflation is harder to detect.

Prices rose 0.3% in April, more than economists expected.

But as unemployment rises and demand sags, the betting is still on deflation ahead.

As for the jobless rate, there was no big spike like that seen in the U.S.

The rate just ticked up marginally to 7.4%.

But the up-to-date figures take a while to come through, and can only get worse.

On Thursday European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said the region’s economy faced an unprecedented decline, with no end yet in sight.