0200 GMT September 19, 2020
A report by the European Union’s statistics agency published a report that showed the trade zone’s GDP contracted by 12.1 percent during the three months through June, which is equivalent to 40.3 percent annualized, AP reported.
That exceeded the US economy’s equivalent 32.9 percent contraction, the Wall Street Journal reported.
While most countries report GDP changes between quarters, the US extrapolates GDP over a full year, which makes it easier to compare GDP in different time periods.
The contraction marks the greatest drop in the eurozone’s GDP since records began in 1995. The largest drops were concentrated in April and May during the most severe lockdown measures in some countries.
The number accounts for the 19-country eurozone and not the European Union as a whole, though. The wider European Union's GDP shrank 11.9 percent.
Members who use the Euro had varying levels of contraction. Italy suffered the hardest drop at 18.5 percent during the three month period. France and Portugal also endured steep declines.
Germany, the largest of the countries that use the euro, went through a 10.1 percent decline, the biggest since records started in 1970.
The loss of GDP is a direct effect of the lockdown measures enforced during the coronavirus pandemic, but European consumers and businesses appear to be gaining confidence, supported by aggressive stimulus and job-protection schemes.
Last week, European leaders agreed on a €750 billion ($884.06 billion) recovery fund, with the European Central Bank additionally printing €1.35 trillion ($1.591 trillion) to add to the economy.
“The business in Europe has been and currently is stronger than in the US,” Bjørn Gulden, chief executive of German sports-goods maker Puma SE, told reporters. In the US, demand has varied widely from state to state, he said.
But the outlook is for a long and uncertain climb back to pre-virus levels that could take until 2022 or longer. Company forecasts for the rest of the year assumed that there is not a renewed outbreak of COVID-19.
“All the growth in GDP seen in the 2010-2019 decade has been wiped out in five months,” said Marc Ostwald, chief economist at ADM Investor Services International. In Italy’s case, economists said it wiped out about 30 years of growth.