More surealism: looking at the headline to this article from the FT - EU economic growth 'half that of US next year' - I couldn't work out whether this was meant to be positive or not. I mean if the US is tootling along in the 7-8% range, then half of this would be a real achievement for the EU. But no such luck. It's meant to be bad news all round, and it comes from the OECD. And being serious for a moment, maybe even this is being optimistic.
European Union economic growth next year is likely to be less than half that of the US, the OECD reported on Wednesday.
The Paris-based group of the world's 30 richest nations twice-yearly economic outlook lowered its forecast for EU growth from 2.4 per cent to 1.9 per cent for 2004. However, it raised its expectations for the US from 4 per cent to 4.2 per cent for the same period.
Recent data from the EU have been relatively upbeat - gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.4 per cent in the third quarter compared with the previous quarter, according to Eurostat estimates from this month - and the region is widely thought to be over the worst of its economic problems. However questions remain about the sustainability of its recovery.
OECD forecast 1.7 per cent growth for France in 2004, while Germany was expected to grow at 1.4 per cent and Italy at 1.6 per cent. Those were all slight downward revisions, but the OECD expected growth in all those countries to rise above 2 per cent in 2005. The newspaper indicated that 2004 growth forecasts for Japan and the UK were revised up - Japan's from 1.1 per cent to 1.8 per cent, and in Britain from 2.6 per cent to 2.7 per cent.