Europe’s Anemic Growth: It’s the Money Supply, Stupid

Growth in the Eurozone has consistently come in under consensus estimates. It missed the mark again in the second quarter of 2015, posting an anemic GDP quarterly growth rate of 0.3%. Europe’s “Big Three”—Germany, France, and Italy—all contributed heavily to the second quarter’s weak performance.

I am not surprised by Europe’s sputtering performance. The growth rate of the broadly determined money supply (M3) is a strong indicator of the economy’s course. Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September of 2008, the growth of M3 in the Eurozone has been weak. This, in large part, is because of more stringent capital asset requirements for banks (read: Basel III) and new bank regulations. These have held down the growth of bank money, which accounts for the lion’s share of broad money.

Since the ECB adopted quantitative easing (QE) in March of 2015, growth of M3 has accelerated, and the portion of M3 accounted for by state money has expanded, too. In consequence, the future course for Eurozone growth holds some promise. Both state money, as well as bank money are accelerating. This is a positive development.

It is worth reporting that Bulgaria, which is part of the European Union (EU), but not a member of the Eurozone, continue to outperform the average EU member country. This is thanks to its currency board system.