Macroeconomic outlook


GDP development
Forecast 2011 to 2015 compared with previous year

in %

2011*

2012*

2013*

2014*

2015*

Source: Global Insight World Overview as of 15.1.2012.

*

Forecast.

World

3.0

2.7

3.7

4.2

4.2

Europe

1.9

–0.2

1.3

2.2

2.4

Germany

3.0

0.2

1.2

1.8

1.6

North America

1.8

2.0

2.4

3.4

3.3

South America

3.9

3.2

4.5

4.9

4.3

Asia/Pacific

4.5

5.3

6.0

6.0

6.0

China

9.2

7.9

8.6

8.5

8.2

Middle East

5.4

4.2

4.5

4.9

4.5

Africa

1.5

4.5

5.8

5.8

5.1

Global economic growth remains modest

The outlook for the world economy has darkened against a backdrop of unsolved debt problems and their effects on the banking sector, considerable uncertainty among investors and consumers, and sluggish international demand. The global economic slowdown is expected to depress world trade further. For 2012 economic development in the industrialised countries is forecast to be weak, as steps to reduce government debt will have a severely restrictive effect on the economy. In many countries the high unemployment rate and negative wealth effects mean that consumer demand is unlikely to make good the shortfall.

The prospects for emerging markets are better, but lower demand from more developed countries and the restrictive economic policies being pursued in many places mean that they too are expecting growth rates to slow. Overall, the global economy is forecast to grow by 2.7 per cent in 2012, rising again the year after. This presupposes that over-indebted countries will continue to implement their consolidation plans and thereby manage to avoid international contagion and greater turmoil on financial markets, with the corresponding effects that this would have on the real economy.

The US economy is projected to grow only modestly in 2012. Although consumer demand will likely remain hesitant given persistently high unemployment and private households’ high levels of debt, capital expenditure by companies is forecast to increase. Growth of around 2.0 per cent is predicted for 2012, with a higher rate expected in 2013.

In Japan the continued return to normality after the natural disasters and the economic effects of pent-up demand mean that the economy is forecast to expand by 2.9 per cent in 2012 and 2013. A significant decline in the economic growth rate is expected for the emerging markets in Asia, although it will remain high overall. Altogether, economic growth of 5.3 per cent is forecast for the Asia-Pacific region in 2012, trending higher the following year.

Given the national debt crises and the necessary structural adjustments the economy in the euro area is likely to remain more or less stagnant. There are considerable differences between the countries in the euro zone, however. Whereas steps to consolidate the budget in peripheral countries such as Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain will prevent a recovery, countries with fewer structural problems are expected to lead the economic league tables, as their fiscal situation and labour market difficulties are less dire. Overall negative growth of –0.2 per cent is predicted for Europe in 2012, which is to become positive again in the subsequent years. As its economy is linked closely to those of its neighbours, Germany will probably not see a repeat of its previous high growth rates. Growth in 2012 should nevertheless outperform the European average at 0.2 per cent. Here too, gross domestic product should rise again more in 2013.

Interest and exchange rate development remain uncertain

The global economy is currently feeling the effects of slower growth in industrialised countries, and the euro crisis and is dependent on the decisions taken in the international political arena. Interest and exchange rates are therefore expected to remain volatile or become even more so in 2012.

Many factors affect the oil price

Given the darkening economic outlook, market participants are expecting oil prices to go down modestly in the medium term. Futures contracts for delivery in December 2012 were trading in early February 2012 at around USD 110/barrel and for December 2013 at around USD 105/barrel. Prices are also affected by geopolitical developments, however. The political crisis in the Middle East in February again caused the oil price to go up sharply.