Graphic Picture of Eurozone Economy -- Bleak, but with some Brighter Spots     Print

A remarkably informative set of graphic maps about the eurozone economies comes from the BBC website. This multi-layered snapshot confirms that the eurozone is in crisis, but this generalization is shown to obscure very different case-by-case situations in the 16 EU countries in the “eurozone.” This visual survey drives home how much painful change will be required for the eurozone (and the EU as a whole) to recover its fiscal balance. However, the survey also brings out positive situations in some countries in the single-currency group, demonstrating stability and even recovery.

On the key issue of countries’ national debt and ability to borrow money, key countries remain in the global mainstream in terms of their ratios of debt to national economic activity, including Germany and France (and Britain, which is included as a major player even though it does not use the euro). The tighter criterion and the ratio of budget deficits to economic activity shows all eurozone countries (except Luxembourg) falling short of their own targets (of three percent maximum). But Germany is close to compliance and other countries – including the Netherlands, Austria, France and Italy – remain within striking distance of the eurozone ceiling.

The overall economy is improving. “The eurozone as a whole has emerged from the global recession, but the recovery is patchy and fragile,” the BBC reports.

A very informative chart about the national economies within the eurozone shows that the eurozone accounts for more than three-quarters of the whole EU’s economic weight, with Britain by far the largest EU economy outside the eurozone.

Unemployment is cripplingly high in countries such as Spain, particularly among the young people of working age (where the figure tops 40 percent). But the overall jobless level is close to the U.S. average (just over 10 percent) in major eurozone countries such as Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Finland and the Netherlands – where it is only four percent.