Polish 2013 GDP Growth Slows to 1.6% as Europe Crisis Hit Demand

Poland’s economy grew last year at the slowest pace since 2009 as domestic demand sagged under the weight of the euro area’s slump.

Gross domestic product advanced 1.6 percent from a year earlier compared with 1.9 percent in 2012, the Central Statistical Office in Warsaw said in a preliminary report today. That topped the 1.5 percent median estimate of 31 economists surveyed by Bloomberg and matched an 11-year low reached in 2009. Private consumption slowed to 0.8 percent from 1.2 percent, while fixed investment fell 0.4 percent from a year earlier, improved from a 1.7 percent decline in 2012.

A recession in the 18-nation euro area, which buys more than half of Poland’s exports, forced companies to cut jobs and wages. Consumer demand, which accounts for 62 percent of the country’s GDP, stalled in the first quarter and grew 0.2 percent in the second as unemployment hovered near a six-year high and pay increases stayed below inflation.

“No wonder Poles were reluctant to buy in the face of job cuts and lower wages,” Piotr Dmitrowski, an economist at Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego in Warsaw, said by phone before the release. “Things started to change for the better in the second half of last year, allowing us to be more optimistic about the fourth quarter and 2014.”

A first estimate of fourth-quarter GDP will be published by the statistics office on Feb. 14. Poland’s economy accelerated in the July-September period for a third consecutive quarter to 1.9 percent from a year earlier.

Unemployment, Wages

Poland’s jobless rate rose to 13.4 percent in December, while wages grew 2.7 percent from a year earlier, compared with a 0.7 percent gain in consumer-price growth.

The economy expanded by 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter, according to 38 economists in a Bloomberg survey published before today’s GDP report.

Monetary-policy makers cut their benchmark interest rate by 2.25 percentage points since November to help spur a recovery from the country’s worst slowdown in more than a decade. The central bank plans to leave borrowing costs at a record low until at least mid-2014 because inflation may hold below the target of 2.5 percent through 2015.

In mid-January, a central bank survey of 23 economists polled Dec. 3-Jan. 7 showed that the Polish economy is projected to grow 2.8 percent this year.

“The full-year growth figure is weak, but we know from the quarterly data that the economy improved each quarter, and that’s what matters now,” Dmitrowski said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dorota Bartyzel in Warsaw at dbartyzel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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