As GDP, earnings and consumption grew faster than previously thought, GKI raised its 2018 GDP growth forecast from 3.8 per cent to 4 per cent. Although the foreign trade surplus is decreasing due to the rapid rise in domestic consumption, the external balance will continue to improve as a result of mounting EU transfers. Owing to the substantial advance payments from the general government necessary for accelerating EU transfers, the general government deficit in cash flow terms will be high and the decline in government debt will be modest. The EU is expecting an adjustment from the Hungarian government due to a high deficit compared to the favourable economic situation. Although the risk of escalating global trade war has declined, the Iranian, Turkish, and Italian situations have already had negative effects on energy prices and exchange rates.
The GKI economic sentiment index deteriorated marginally in May. According to the empirical survey conducted by GKI with the support of the EU, this was the result of the deterioration in consumer expectations as business expectations improved slightly. Nevertheless, the GKI economic sentiment index is only slightly below its historic peak reached in February.
Outlooks on the residential and construction site markets became more favourable compared to the previous survey a quarter ago. The improvement was particularly significant in Budapest agglomeration. There was no meaningful change in non-Budapest market, these expectations still reflects some kind of optimism.
Being at the helm for eight years, Fidesz-KDNP won a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary elections again on April 8th. This is expected to entail a stronger establishment of the one-centred Hungarian political model than before. The continued deterioration of competitiveness, the deepening conflicts with the EU and the uncertain decline in EU transfers after 2020 pose great challenges to the sustainability of this policy. The idea of drastically stimulating corporate and retail borrowing instead of strengthening competitive market conditions seems to be a new problem rather than a solution. However, the GDP growth rate may be close to 4 per cent in 2018.
In April, GKI’s economic sentiment index remained slightly lower than its historic peak in February. According to the empirical survey conducted by GKI with the support of the EU, expectations deteriorated in the business sector within the statistical margin of error, whereas they continued to rise among consumers.