37-38/2014 Changing track
The engine driving economic growth has crossed the seas to another continent. The rather stagnant euro area led to the promotion of key emerging economies as beacons of hope for a recovery – but only until first their growth and then their exchange rates buckled under pressure. Asia in particular, which led the global economy over the last decade, has lost some of its momentum. India has once again been overtaken by its national realities, which are not very conducive to foreign investment. China’s growth remains impressive, but is lower than it has ever been in the past 15 years. Politicians are commenting that the country’s economic strategy now focuses on change – and no longer on growth. This does not really augur an impending bull market.
A good lesson can be learnt from taking a look across the Big Pond. The USA, which has been under quite some pressure since the sub-prime crisis set in a few years ago, has published some encouraging figures recently. The ratio of first-time applicants for unemployment benefit to total employment, which is one of the most important indicators of overall US economic development, has reached a record low, which is a good sign. Indices released by the Institute for Supply Management, covering both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors, have also improved significantly since starting the year rather weakly.
So the USA seems to be largely back on track. It is expected to register real GDP growth estimated at 2.77% in 2014, thus following up on the good results achieved in 2012 and 2010, and even on those of 2006. An improvement of 3.4% or more, as achieved in 2005 and 2004, is still quite a distance away, however. So the signs seem to be pointing towards an initial return to economic health in the USA, before the onset of a real boom. The mere spreading of this news is already a cause for optimism.
Cross the Big Pond with us in this issue – and perhaps in person too. We’d be happy to meet you at the trade fairs we’re attending in California and Texas.