Europe Economy

EM ‘shock’ could push euro zone back into decline: S&P

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The euro zone could face its third recession in six years in 2014 if emerging market growth slows more than forecast, a senior economist from Standard & Poor's rating agency said on Thursday.

(Read more: Too early to call bottom of euro zone crisis: Wolters)

Jean-Michel Six, the Paris-based chief economist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said that developing economies like Turkey and Brazil were highly exposed to the policies of the world's major central banks and any decline in their growth could hit the euro zone hard.

"An exogenous shocks from, for example, emerging markets slowing more than expected, could see the euro zone facing a situation of falling growth — and then that is its third dip into recession," said Six, in a news briefing in London.

Any emerging market risk to the euro area would most likely come from Turkey, Brazil India, South Africa and Indonesia, which Six termed the "fragile five". Their large current account deficits and vulnerability to international capital flows leaves them highly exposed to a fall-off in global central bank liquidity, he said.

(Read more: Fragile five: The new focus of currency wars)

ECB: Financial 'stress' has fallen

The 17 countries which use the euro are struggling to recover from a double-dip recession which saw the euro zone's economy shrink in 2009, and again in 2012. Official statistics from Eurostat suggest the area continued to contract in 2013, by 0.4 percent.

Six said a 2014 downturn in the euro zone could see the area's low inflation rate — which stood at 0.7 percent in October —turn into deflation.

(CNBC Explains: Deflation)

"We are finally approaching 0.5 percent inflation — we have gone well below the official target rate (of 2 percent) of the European Central Bank (ECB)," he said.

Six added that the ECB should be wary of launching measures to encourage inflation next year as they would coincide with another new initiative, the risk assessment of all "systemically important" European banks.

"The ECB now has a dual role that is very difficult… although its recent track record shows it can be more creative and adventurous than it would admit," he said.

(Read more: Euro zone 'stress' down to near pre-crisis levels: ECB)

Six estimated that the four central banks which have run the largest bond-buying programs — the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, Bank of Japan and Swiss National Bank — pumped around $1.6 trillion into the world economy in 2013, close to the record level of $1.7 trillion in 2009.

He said central bank liquidity would fall-off to $1.0 trillion or slightly lower next year, when the Fed is seen starting scaling offits $85 billion per month bond purchases.

"This is a very fluctuating sequence, something markets don't necessary like to cope with," Six said.

(Read more: Are emerging markets squandering the taper delay?)

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato