Economists: Euro economy weighed down

Jan. 17, 2011 at 12:01 PM

FRANKFURT, Germany, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The economic recovery that has flickered in the United States and much of northern Europe still is missing most of the euro zone, economists said.

Countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal have imposed massive spending cuts and tax increases to help pull their economics from the brink, but are weighing down the euro zone and may not realize healthier economies for years, The New York Times reported.

Countries using the euro will grow an average of 1.5 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund said, less than the 2.3 percent growth it predicted for the United States. The Times said the IMF forecast was made before a $858 billion package of tax cuts and incentives was signed in December, which prompted some economists to increase U.S. economic growth predictions to as high as 4 percent.

By 2015, the IMF said, growth in the euro area will be about 1.7 percent.

"This is the most brutal slimming exercise you can imagine, without the help of an exchange rate devaluation," Thomas Mayer, chief economist of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, told the Times. "It will take time and it will create tremendous economic hardship in these countries."

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