GDP growth probably accelerated slightly in the fourth quarter of 2017

Similarly to 2017, the Hungarian economy is expected to grow at a rate close to 4 per cent in 2018. Although this rate is well above the EU average of slightly less than 2.5 per cent, it is moderate in the CEE region. The 20 per cent increase in investments in 2017 will slow down to about half of it this year, whereas the rise of consumption over 4 per cent will essentially remain in 2018 as well. However, the rate of the expansion of exports will be closer to that of imports. Incoming EU transfers will rise. Inflation will accelerate somewhat.

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Forecast for 2018

The Hungarian economy is proceeding on a path indicated in the September 2017 forecast of GKI. Economic growth accelerates due to the surge in EU transfers as well as the increase in consumption driven by steadily rising wages due to the forthcoming elections and a shortage of labour. After 2.2 per cent in 2016, GDP will grow by 3.8 per cent both in 2017 and 2018. Although this rate is well above the EU average, it is one of the lowest in the CEE region, and no major changes can be expected in 2018 in this regard.

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Foundations of sustainable economic growth should be established now

Trends in the Hungarian economy of the first half of the year have continued in the past few months. Although the 3.8 per cent GDP growth in the third quarter of 2017 once again exceeded the EU average of 2.5 per cent, it is among the low ones in the CEE region. GKI maintains its GDP growth forecast of 3.8 per cent for 2017 and 2018. More and more international institutions call the attention of the Hungarian government to establish the foundations of sustainable economic growth during these relatively favourable years.

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Trends are favourable in the short term

Trends in the Hungarian economy of the first half of the year have continued in the past few months, and no substantial changes can be expected until mid-2018. Owing to the surge of EU transfers and their budgetary advance payments as well as the pre-election demand boost, the economic growth rate reached 3.8 per cent, which is above the EU average but it is among the lowest in the CEE region. Although GDP growth is driven by investments, consumption is also rising fast. Although external and internal equilibria deteriorate slightly, and inflation accelerates, this is not a problem for the time being. The trends are favourable in the short term; however, long-term solutions are still missing.

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Forecast for 2017-2018

Following the continuous spectacular expansion in investments in the second quarter of 2017, GKI raised its GDP forecast for 2017 from 3.5 per cent to 3.8 per cent, and it expects a similar growth rate for 2018 as well. This is a significant acceleration compared to the 2 per cent rate in 2016, driven by the renewed inflow of EU transfers and the pre-election demand boost. At the same time, although the Hungarian growth rate is far above the EU average, it is only very modest in the CEE region. The close to 4 per cent GDP growth, the around 3.5 per cent consumption and the 20 per cent and 9 per cent growth rates of investments in 2017 and 2018 are very favourable indicators in themselves; however, they are unsustainable in the Hungarian model without EU transfers. The government will soon have to decide on the revision of its European policy, including its accession to the euro area, providing that it does not want to end up on the EU’s periphery, on a disadvantageous economic trajectory leaving to relative decline.

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