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Luca Rossi

8 August 2018
Economic Bulletin Issue 5, 2018
This article documents the key role that private consumption has played in recent output growth (2013-18), and asks how long the current growth in consumption can continue and whether it is self-sustaining. To that end, this article tries to identify the relative importance of different factors driving consumption, such as the recovery in the labour market, accommodative monetary policy, the 2014-15 drop in oil prices, the increase in asset prices, the easing of credit conditions and deleveraging. As the fall in consumption from 2008 to 2013 was very heterogeneous across countries, this article also sheds light on the extent to which the current expansion has actually led to a net increase in consumption over the past decade. This is relevant because private consumption is also a prime indicator of the economic well-being of households. While the growth of consumption has been low compared with previous expansions, since 2013 it has exceeded initial expectations. It has been driven mainly by the recovery in the labour market, even though unemployment in some countries and for some groups of workers remains higher than before 2008. Looking forward, as labour markets continue to improve, private consumption should expand further in all countries and for all groups of workers. Through its impact on the labour market, the ECB’s accommodative monetary policy is not only contributing to the expansion of private consumption, but also to a decrease in inequality. At the same time, there is little evidence that low interest rates have led to generalised increases in household indebtedness, supporting the sustainability of the overall economic expansion.
JEL Code
D31 : Microeconomics→Distribution→Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
E21 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Consumption, Saving, Wealth
E32 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Business Fluctuations, Cycles
E50 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→General
24 September 2018
Economic Bulletin Issue 6, 2018
Oil prices affect private consumption through direct and indirect channels. An increase in oil prices affects households' purchasing power directly through higher prices for oil-based energy products (e.g. petrol, heating oil). In the euro area about one-third of the economy's total oil use is in the form of final consumption, i.e. the use by consumers of such products. The other two-thirds comes from oil being used in the production of non-energy goods. A rise in oil prices implies an increase in the production costs of these sectors. If these costs cannot be passed on to the final prices of these goods, there will be an indirect impact on households' purchasing power, since either wages or profits received from these sectors will be lower. Moreover, for advanced economies that produce oil (e.g. Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States) the indirect effects through wages and profits from the oil-producing sector are even more important.
JEL Code
E01 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→General→Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth, Environmental Accounts
E21 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Consumption, Saving, Wealth