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Economic outlook

Economic Outlook

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World economy: Major leading indicators are signaling a moderate acceleration of global economic growth in 2017. Even so, the details do not provide comforting reading. The world economy is profiting mainly from the beneficial effect of somewhat higher energy prices on oil-pro-ducing emerging nations like Brazil and Russia, which will be able to dig themselves out of recession, though their growth rates are still unlikely to exceed a meagre one percent. Hopes in the industrialized world are pinned on the United States, where higher capital spending and solid personal consumption will drive economic growth.

US: Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election means that a man whose politics are hard to fathom now bestrides the world stage. His plans for an expansionary fiscal policy will be good for US growth, where-as restrictions on international trade would have negative economic consequences. It is very questionable, however, whether Trump will actually be able to realize his unconventional revamping of America’s foreign trade policy. Basically, economic growth should benefit from the Trump presidency. We expect US GDP to grow by 2.3% in 2017.

Eurozone: Leading indicators are signaling a relatively solid rate of economic expansion in the Eurozone. But important elections are scheduled for this year, with populist parties among the favorites. The Eurozone economy therefore faces a number of hurdles in the coming months. The ECB is sticking to its present course. The asset purchase programme will be continued until year-end.

Switzerland: The Swiss economy is now performing solidly again. The growth rate is in line with the country’s European neighbours. GDP growth in the region of 1.5% for the current year looks realistic. Exporters are coping well with the strong franc, and personal consumption and corporate investment are also on course. But the mood in the hotel and catering sector is still rather subdued. Tourists are reacting to the strong franc by preferring other destinations.

Emerging markets: The prospects for the emerging markets in 2017 are rather more encouraging than they were a year ago. Oil-reliant Russia and Brazil can look forward to positive growth rates this year. Oil prices have crept up again, and that is good for these countries’ economic prospects. Major leading indicators in Russia, especially, have shown a significant recovery. Higher oil prices are propelling investment in the energy sector, with a positive impact on the economy as a whole. The Chinese economy has stayed on course, supported by additional government spending and monetary ease. Many observers hope that public sector enterprises will dismantle excess capacity on instructions from the government, but we see little chance of this happening. Such action would trigger mass layoffs, with undesirable social consequences that the Party would want to avoid. Instead, state-run banks will continue to keep debt-ridden public sector enterprises afloat by providing further credit. But that diverts resources away from healthy businesses, putting a drag on China’s growth outlook.


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