The World Bank has lowered its forecast for global growth in 2015 to three percent down from its previous level of 3.4 percent amid rising concerns over the economic prospects of several economies. The traditional engines of global economic growth with the exception of the United States and the United Kingdom seem to be running out of steam while at the same time a number of emerging economies are also entering troubled waters.
The Eurozone economies are suffering from anaemic growth rates, low inflation and a prolonged inability to coordinate their policies in order to overcome their current predicament. Similarly the Japanese economy is also suffering despite the extended monetary stimulus implemented by the Bank of Japan.
Among the emerging economies, Russia and Brazil have seen their economies stall as they are affected, among other factors, by falling commodity prices. The latter are expected to remain soft in the years to come, significantly hitting those economies that depend heavily on natural resources. Besides the much-talked fall in oil prices, iron ore and coal prices have also seen significant decreases during the last months.
Among the key factors for this drop is China’s slowing economy. Although the latter is still growing, it has entered a path of gradual deceleration that already affects the world trade. The latter is expected to remain weak during 2015 far away from its pre-crisis levels. In the shipping industry we have already seen the implication of this deceleration especially in the dry sector. The current adverse situation is reflected in the BCI index where we are reaching historical lows almost on a daily basis. During the last weeks the index has lost significant ground and the prospects remain dim as further drops in China’s GDP growth rate are expected to have additional negative implications for the world economy both for developed and developing economies.
Although the world outlook for 2015 does not look so good, pessimism should not dominate the market sentiment. We have entered a point in time where the much anticipated policy actions by governments and central banks to support economic activity are ante portas and the results can be nothing but positive. The ECB is anticipated to expand its balance sheet with purchases of sovereign bonds to support Eurozone economies and the economies of the United States and United Kingdom are expected to remain on the positive path.
China has already adopted measures to avoid financial distress and a number of other policy instruments are available to support its economy. In addition, low oil prices are expected to boost economic activity helping several emerging economies to improve their output outlook. Among them, India, which according to the World Bank is expected to overtake China as the world’s fastest growing big economy within the next two years, has seen its coal imports rise significantly since last year as the country tries to meet its growing power demand.
To sum up, despite the current difficulties that the world economy faces, a closer look suggests that there is room for significant improvement during 2015.
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