Eco Week
Economic Scenario

Economic scenario of 2 April 2024



The US economy has shown a surprising vigour in 2023, illustrated by the +0.8% q/q advance in Q4 GDP and a +2,5% yearly annual growth driven by the resilience of household consumption and the good figures of business investment. Thus, we have gradually ruled out the event of a recession induced by the cumulative monetary tightening. Our baseline scenario implies a +2.8% rate of growth for 2024, enabled by factors such as the carryover effect from 2023 and an expected increase in real incomes, with a slowdown over S2. The inflation peak was reached in mid-2022, and the latter is expected to approach the 2% target in 2024. This picture paves the way for an easing of its monetary policy by the Fed, which can foresee a soft landing of the US economy and start cutting rates progressively as from June 2024.


The post-Covid rebound in economic activity proved to be weaker than initially expected. Domestic demand has remained held back by a significant loss in private investor and consumer confidence. The crisis in the property sector has persisted, with the continued fall in sales, defaults of developers and growing difficulties of certain financial institutions. These constraints to economic growth have persisted since the beginning of 2024. However, activity has strengthened slightly, driven by the manufacturing export sector, and helped by fiscal stimulus measures. In the short term, exports are likely to continue to gain strength. Moreover, the authorities are expected to continue to ease their economic policy mix, which is a prerequisite for reaching the official real GDP growth target of “about 5%” that has been set for 2024. Consumer price inflation will remain low. Yet the policy leeway of the government and the central bank is still being constrained by the debt excess of the economy and the weak financial situation of local governments.


The euro area GDP slightly contracted in the second half of 2023 according to the latest Eurostat data. Annual growth was only 0.5% in 2023.The negative effects of monetary tightening are expected to continue to weigh on economic activity this winter. Activity is expected to inch higher in the first quarter of 2024, before a more pronounced recovery from spring onwards. This would be underpinned by a first rate cut by the ECB, which we expect to happen in June. This monetary easing would accompany the inflation decline, which is expected to come close to the 2% target during the second quarter. Disinflation, along with the dynamism of wages, is expected to support household purchasing power and consumption. Growth should also be supported by NGEU disbursements and its deployment on the ground.


France experienced 0% q/q growth in Q3 and 0.1% q/q growth in Q4 2023 after a short-lived acceleration in Q2 2023 (+0.6% t/t, driven by exceptional factors, such as aeronautics). In Q4, corporate investment has decreased for the first time (after significant growth). In parallel, household consumption was stable and household investment decreased markedly. Disinflation is now visible (the harmonized index grew by 2.4% y/y in March 2024, compared to 5.7% y/y in September 2023), but the impact of higher interest rates should continue to be felt. As a result, we except 0.1% growth q/q during the Q1 2024. Going forward, we expect no clear growth acceleration this year (0.7% in 2024 after 0.9% in 2023).


The first policy rate cuts are taking shape somewhat more clearly. They would, according to our forecasts, occur in June for the Federal Reserve, the ECB, and the Bank of England. In particular, the Federal Reserve and the ECB declare they are about to have the necessary data and confidence to be in a position to estimate that inflation is heading sustainably towards the 2% target. The most prominent risk, however, is that inflation proves to be stickier than anticipated, which would delay the monetary easing. We expect three 25-basis-point rate cuts from the Fed by the end of 2024, four for the ECB and the Bank of England. On both sides of the Atlantic, policy rates in real terms and the degree of monetary restriction would remain about unchanged. The induced decline in long-term rates should be limited by the importance of bond issuance against a background of quantitative tightening.

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) was the first central bank among G7 economies to act in 2024. The BoJ jointly announced the end of its negative interest rate policy and yield curve control policy at the March meeting. As a result, the policy rate target was raised from a corridor of -0.1-0.0% to 0.0-0.1%, although the volume of JGBs purchases remains broadly unchanged. The BoJ also scaled back its purchases of corporate bonds and commercial paper while ending its purchases of ETFs and J-REITs. However, we expect monetary policy to normalise very gradually in the country, with only one additional hike envisaged by the end of 2024.

We remain fundamentally bearish regarding the US dollar, but the still-strong US growth pushes back and moderates its expected depreciation, especially versus the euro. The yen is expected to strengthen more significantly versus the USD, based on the combination of the start of BoJ tightening and of the repatriation by Japanese investors of their foreign holdings.