Asian economic outlook – robust, but risks still remain

The massive economic slump seen in the winter of 2008/2009 was followed by what was in part a very strong rebound in the world economy that has persisted to date. Global output rose by 4.1% last year, having tumbled 2.1% in 2009. However, the scale of the recovery varied widely among the individual countries and regions. Growth in the emerging markets was particularly dynamic, above all in Asia where industrial production is now a good 46% up on its 2007 level. For comparison: the industrial countries have still not made up the production losses caused by the crisis, with industrial output currently still almost 10% below its 2007 level.

Following the robust start to the current year, the global economy is likely to have cooled in the second quarter. Two factors were chiefly to blame: Firstly, the natural and nuclear catastrophe in Japan disrupted supply chains around the globe. Secondly, the steep rise in commodity prices took a nasty chunk out of the real incomes of both households and businesses. In addition, the escalation of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe is likely to have at least dampened economic expectations slightly. Although we see the economic upswing continuing around the globe, it is likely to be more moderate than in the past 1½ years.World trade will continue to expand but not at the pace seen in the immediate aftermath of the global economic slump. And the ongoing consolidation drives in many industrial countries are likely to weigh on growth there at least in the short and medium term. All told, global output is likely to increase by 3.3% this year.

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