The Latest Eurostat Figures

According to the latest Eurostat figures, in the year to November 2008 industrial output dropped by 7.7% in both the Euro area and in the EU as a whole. There was a wide range in performance across countries:

“Among the Member States for which data are available for November 2008, industrial production fell in nineteen and rose only in Ireland (+2.6%). The most significant decreases were registered in Estonia (-17.6%), Spain (-15.1%), Latvia (-13.9%) and Luxembourg (-13.8%).”

Now, the question is, are these big numbers or small numbers? Here is a table giving changes in industrial output between 1929 and 1937. Looking at the three-year declines between 1929 and 1932, and comparing these with the one-year declines from 2007 to 2008, my answer is that these are frighteningly big numbers. Industrial output is not declining at the rate experienced in the US or Germany during the Great Depression, but that is setting the bar pretty low. It is declining more rapidly than the average falls experienced in Europe as a whole during that period (although those average falls are unweighted, and thus have a large health warning attached to them).

It is of course true that industry has declined since 1930 as a share of GDP in big European economies like Germany, France and the UK. On the other hand, as far as I can see from the (not very comparable) data which I currently have to hand, it has increased over that period in Finland, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and I am prepared to bet Bulgaria, Romania and the former Yugoslavia as well. And it is about the same now as it was then in Italy.


2 Responses to "The Latest Eurostat Figures"

  1. Anonymous   January 18, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Link to table not functional

  2. Kevin O'Rourke   January 19, 2009 at 3:14 am

    Sorry. I’ll try to fix the link. This should work: