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Country Forecast Hungary February 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Hungary February 2018 Updater

  • February 2018
  • ID: 5337034
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The government, led by the nationalist Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Union (Fidesz), is stable and has a large parliamentary majority. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the government to win a third consecutive four-year term at the next election, scheduled for April 8th 2018.
  • The government's popularity has recovered since mid-2015, when the prime minister, Viktor Orban, adopted a strident anti-immigrant stance in the face of a huge movement of migrants across Hungary. The far-right Jobbik party has edged ahead of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) to take second place in the opinion polls, but they are both a long way behind Fidesz. We expect Hungary's relations with the EU to remain combative.
  • We expect policy to continue broadly along the same lines as in 2010-17. It will focus, especially in the run-up to the next election, on boosting short-term economic growth through state measures and easing the burden on households through consumption tax cuts, utility price stability and caps on interest rates on household loans, using sectoral taxes to support the fiscal position.
  • We forecast that, owing to election-related expenditure, the budget deficit will widen to 2.6% of GDP in 2018, from an estimated 2.1% of GDP in 2017, before easing to an annual average of 2.3% of GDP in 2019-22.
  • We estimate that real GDP growth picked up to 3.9% in 2017, from 2.1% in 2016, and forecast that it will remain resilient in 2018, at 3.6%. We forecast that growth will slow to an average of 2.1% in 2019-22. We expect investment to rebound as projects funded by the 2014-20 EU budget come on stream. We fore-cast that private consumption will make a smaller contribution to growth after 2018, but export growth will hold up well. In the medium term the possibility of a Greek exit from the euro zone remains a downside risk to growth.
  • After broadly stable prices in 2016, average inflation picked up to 2.3% in 2017 and we expect it to peak at 2.9% in 2019 as private consumption expands, before easing to an average of 2.6% per year in 2020-22.
  • The current account registered a surplus equivalent to 6.1% of GDP in 2016. We estimate that this shrank to 4.8% of GDP in 2017, owing to higher world oil prices. We forecast that the current-account surplus will decline as import demand remains strong, to an average of 3.1% of GDP per year in 2018-22.

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