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The World Economy: Upbeat

By Shlomo Maital

 “Ifo” is a German research institute that sends out regular questionnaires to experts, with two parts: the first, about global conditions, and the second, about local (country) conditions. I respond to the questionnaire regularly.

   Here is Ifo’s latest assessment:

       Munich, 11 May 2017 – The ifo World Economic Climate improved markedly in the second quarter, with the indicator rising from 2.6 points to 13.0 points. Experts’ assessments of the current economic situation were considerably more positive, making their sharpest increase since January 2013.

       Not only did the global economy improve, but so did expectations about the future:

   Economic expectations also improved. A further recovery was seen in the world economy in the second quarter. The ifo World Economic Climate improved in nearly all regions of the world. The main drivers remained the advanced economies, and especially the European Union. Both assessments of the current economic situation and expectations continued to follow an upwards trend in most countries.

   As usually happens, the upbeat outlook is not uniform. Latin America and Africa and the Mideast lag:

In Latin America assessments of the economic situation remained largely poor, but expectations brightened markedly. There was also a significant improvement in the developments and outlook for emerging and developing economies. Africa and the MiddleEast were the only regions in which the economic climate deteriorated. The outlook for Turkey also remained overcast.

     The common denominator? Politics. Politics in Turkey, the Mideast and Latin America are rather chaotic (checked out Venezuela lately?)   Politics in Europe seem more positive, with the voters rejecting the far right. In America, politics are chaotic but this is not new…

   So, despite Trump, and an anti-globalization anti-trade sentiment sweeping the world, the world economy seems resilient. A new China-US trade deal is in the offing.     One dark cloud on the horizon – Brexit. The EU seems in a vengeful mood, and some there want to teach Britain a lesson. This would be a huge mistake. Hopefully wiser heads will prevail.

World Economy: Loop the Loop!

By Shlomo Maital


     From time to time, I answer a questionnaire distributed by a German research institute, called Ifo World Economic Survey. Based on that survey, Ifo publishes a “business cycle clock” for the global economy. The latest one is shown above.

     To explain: the X axis is the current situation: good or bad; the Y axis is the change, improving or deteriorating.   The ‘clock’ starts in 2007, just before the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis that began in the US and spread around the world.

     What we see is this: First, a huge ‘loop the loop’ cycle, stretching from 2007/8 to 2011, with a very deep recession. Then, two smaller loops, 2012-13 and 2014-15 cycling around ‘no change’ and ‘average situation’. The cause?   Weak Chinese growth, and very weak EU growth.

       Once the global economy had a powerful locomotive tugging it upward. First, the locomotive was the US economy, whose appetite for goods created enormous demand and pulled the Asian economies into high growth. Then, the locomotive was China’s economy, whose rapid growth spread to surrounding countries, as China imported components.

       Today? The global freight train has no locomotive. Not the US, not EU, not China. Until a locomotive emerges, and one may not, the world economy will continue to do these small ‘loop the loops’, like a stunt plane, around the average.

       Have you strategized this rather gloomy forecast?

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
May 2017
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