Early signs suggest GDP too will disappoint. On January 15th Germany's statistics office released figures suggesting that
the economy only narrowly avoided a recession last year: after contracting by 0.2% in the third quarter, it barely grew in the fourth.
Italy seems likely to have gone into recession in the second half of 2018.
While many have pointed to weak external demand as the primary cause of recent growth woes, domestic demand has also fallen short.
Andrew Kenningham of Capital Economics notes that consumption growth slowed significantly in 2018 even as unemployment fell,
a worrying sign that "consumers have lost their nerve". Consumer confidence fell over the course of last year.
And there are lurking risks. Mr Colijn reckons the biggest threats to growth in 2019 include a slowdown in China,
a disorderly no-deal Brexit, and an escalating trade war with America. Trade is slowing.
The World Bank recently lowered its expectations of growth in global trade volumes for this year and the next by around half a per cent.
For now, a full-blown recession across the currency area this year seems unlikely.
Economists expect the euro-zone economy to expand by 1.5% in 2019.
But if such growth fails to materialise, the ECB will need to consider what tools to use to stimulate it.
It could extend its forward guidance—for the moment it expects to keep interest rates at current levels "at least through the summer".
Another option would be to extend its targeted longer-term refinancing operations,
which offer cheap funds to banks that lend to firms and households.
As for the bond-buying programme, Mario Draghi, the ECB's president,
acknowledged in December that at points it was "the only driver" of recovery in some parts of the euro zone.
Disappointing data suggest the central bank might not hold the brakes down for long.