The world economy is showing modest signs of growth. Europe is finally coming out of its long slump as the ECB is considering ending its massive monthly money injections. The ECB’s president Mario Draghi has indicated that much recently. He seems to feel that there are no major soft spots among the main players and there are positive developments among the key players. Germany continues to do well, France seems to be coming out of its shell and Italy is reporting good growth, while the UK is doing relatively well despite its struggle with Brexit. The emerging economies are showing positive performances as well.
The big problem for everyone is Donald Trump who continues to create confusion and discord everywhere. His tariffs on aluminum and on steel appear to be creating problems among major industrial corporations in Europe. To what extent they will be hit is not yet clear but suppliers are already reporting disruptions. It is quite possible that the positive economic developments in Europe seen so far will now stall.
Germany is still ahead in the growth game, with 2.6% growth in Q4 of last year. There are some indications that the growth rate will be smaller in Q1 this year, but we will have to wait until the results are in late in April. The French economy is growing pretty much in tandem with that in Germany. Inflation is lower next door but not by much. Italy, fresh out from an election that solved nothing, is growing more slowly than its northern neighbors, but in general it is doing relatively well. The UK continues to struggle with its Brexit decision. So far the economic impact is minimal, but there are voices predicting a significant decline for the economy once Brexit is implemented.
The other European economies are meandering along at a low speed with no inflation in sight. Politically they are mostly stable with the exception of Spain where the Catalans continue to clamor for independence. The other independence movements, Scotland and Ireland, have been quiet of late.
It is noteworthy that Russia is growing at a modest rate of around 2% p.a. as crude oil prices remain depressed at just below $70 per barrel. If those prices accelerate beyond that level, the country could do better economically.
On the other side of the globe, in Asia, growth is quite good. China continues to expand at a rate of around 6.5% and so is India. Japan is finally emerging from its long slumber. At 2% p.a. it is in lock step with its European counterparts. The emerging markets of Asia are all growing at a good clip with inflation contained everywhere.