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Economic outlook

The financial and economic crisis is not over yet. The development of the global economy remains fraught with risk in 2012. Many industrial countries are suffering from high unemployment, a weak asset price development and extended private household debt, which dampens private consumption. Economic development will therefore be dominated by the debt and banking crisis as well as the successful implementation of consolidation plans. A continued very expansive monetary policy should, however, have a stabilizing effect. For emerging markets, the outlook remains positive; Asian countries in particular should provide a helpful boost to the global economy. Against this backdrop, global GDP for 2012 is anticipated to increase by 3.3%.

EUROPE

Experts anticipate weaker economic development in the Eurozone for 2012, with significant differences between individual countries. At best, the Eurozone is expected to stagnate; more prudent scenarios envision a GDP decrease of -0.5%.

Core countries such as France, Germany, and the Benelux countries will probably distinguish themselves positively from the peripheral economies, such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy, since the former have less significant fiscal, labor, and real estate problems.

In the peripheral countries the massive consolidation and refinancing requirements will continue to slow down economic growth, particularly in Spain and Italy. The recession will persist in Greece and Portugal. Decreasing demand from these countries will also have a negative effect on the export economy of the core countries.

Due to the increasingly depressed economic environment, Germany is expected to experience a slowdown, which could lead to growth stagnation in 2012. Positive impulses are expected from domestic demand, though the trade balance will possibly have a negative impact on economic development.

Comprehensive steps to minimize the Eurozone debt crisis were taken at the end of 2011. Credit leverage is being employed to increase volume of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) for higher effectiveness, especially with regard to potentially necessary support for Italy and Spain. For Greece, a significantly higher haircut for private creditors is expected, which will limit the deficit, and most likely make it possible for the country to return to the capital market by 2020.

UNITED STATES

The economy in the United States will probably recover slightly. Consumer demand will be further dampened, given that labor conditions have only slightly improved and private household debt remains high. In addition, the real estate market will probably not recover quickly, even though recent developments are pointing towards an end to the decline in prices. Increased investment activities are foreseen, however, due to the unexpectedly strong, productivity-driven increase of corporate profits in the previous year. Expansive monetary policy should also provide some positive impulses. Since the effects of public budget consolidations will probably not be felt until 2013, the 2012 GDP is expected to increase by 2.5%.

ASIA

For the Asian emerging economies, especially China and India, the strongest economic development is expected for 2012, with an overall GDP increase of 6.9% (Asia ex Japan). Private demand should continue to grow. Decreased exports and the slowed economy in the industrial countries, however, could affect growth negatively.

The emerging economies will remain dependent to a lesser extent on the industrial countries, which are the destination of most of their exports. Structural factors, such as the catch-up process versus the industrial countries, the young and still growing population, and improvements in infrastructure, will continue to be growth drivers for the economy. Increasing inflation should be expected due to the high growth rates.

Export and investment activities should remain the most important drivers in China. Increasing domestic demand can also be expected, though it will not be able to cushion expected sluggish export demand from slow economies in its most important markets. The reversion to a less restrictive monetary policy occurring at the end of 2011 and increased governmental social benefits should counteract the slowed growth. Other fiscal impulses intended to stimulate consumption are expected. For 2012, projections call for a decreased growth of 8.3%.

India’s economy is primarily stimulated by private consumption. Its growth rate for 2012 could remain at the previous year’s level of 7.3%, provided India can curb its high inflation.

Economic development in Japan is still hampered by the strong Japanese currency and the weak global economy. However, both catch-up effects and the reconstruction work taking place in the areas that were affected by the earthquake should exert a positive effect. Experts estimate GDP growth will be 0.7% in 2012.

LATIN AMERICA

For Latin America, slightly slower but still robust growth of 3.6% is expected for 2012. The economic activities of raw materials exporters, for example Brazil, are losing some momentum due to slightly lower raw materials prices. Economic development in these countries will, however, most likely be better than average in this region.

For Brazil, prospects for employment and income are expected to remain good, which will generate positive impulses for consumer demand. Brazil’s GDP is projected to increase by 3.2% in 2012.

GDP in Argentina is expected to decrease significantly to 2.9% in 2012: no growth impulses are expected from governmental policy makers, and the ongoing flight of capital and the high inflation continue to strain the economy.

Due to the unchanged strong dependence on the U.S. economy, Mexico’s growth is estimated at 3.3%.


Sources: German Council of Economic Experts – Annual Report 2011/2012, bank research

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