Tags: OECD | growth | GDP | Russia

Global Recovery Isn't Out of the Woods Yet

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Tuesday, 06 May 2014 02:46 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) trimmed most of the overall growth rates for its member countries and other major economies in its latest Economic Outlook.

It expects real GDP to grow in 2014 and 2015, respectively, 3.4 and 3.9 percent for the world; 2.6 and 3.5 percent in the United States; 1.2 and 1.7 percent in the euro area; 1.2 and 1.2 percent in Japan; and 7.4 and 7.3 percent in China.

The BRIICS (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa) are expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2014 on average and 5.7 percent in 2015, which is too low for reaching "escape velocity."

The unemployment rate for all OECD member states is expected to decline only marginally by 0.5 percent to 7.1 percent by the end of 2015, which means that 11.25 million more people will remain unemployed than was the case at the beginning of 2008 when the "Great Recession" started. This is in no way comparable with the United States where unemployment now stands at 6.3 percent, although the participation rate remains at unhealthy lows, but is a similar situation as in most of the developed economies.

The 326-page report gives us a boatload of analyses and projections, which could, to some degree, be helpful to long-term investors for getting some better insight to where the most important economies of the world are headed economically (fundamentally) and what are realistically the most important known risks that could cause new damaging disruptions.

Before anything else, let me say that the world's recovery, as a whole, from the Great Recession isn't out of the woods yet. That doesn't mean there aren't positive growth signs, certainly when we take them at face value.

To me, long-term investors should always keep the long-term average growth rates and performances as points of reference for sound comparison and surely before making investment decisions.

It's also important to take notice we're witnessing the development of a clear divide between 1) the major developed economies on both sides of the Atlantic, where the United States is by far the best-performing large economy now and in the median term, and while most of the economies now seem to gain some momentum, albeit only slowly and at different speeds, and 2) the major emerging economies on the various continents that apparently are facing not enough growth for getting that absolute necessary escape velocity.

It's interesting to see the OECD considering the deceleration in the emerging economies as not too worrisome as it "only" should reflect cyclical slowdowns from overheated situations to more sustainable levels overall. Let's hope they are right, but I have my doubts.

The OECD expects China's GDP growth rate to slow definitively below the 7.5 percent mark, and it warns the country faces major challenges going forward when it comes to 1) managing the government-induced shrinking of its overall credit volumes in all sectors, and 2) the unavoidable risks that are still dormant but that remain out there and that were created as a result of the easy global monetary conditions.

Nevertheless, the OECD report states overall risks seem to be better balanced, although they remain tilted to the downside.

The OECD assumes the upper bound of the target Federal funds rate to be raised gradually between March and December 2015 to 1.5 percent, from the current level of 0.25 percent. Taking that into account and because the Fed is obliged to exit, slowly but surely, and maybe earlier than most expect now, from its highly accommodative monetary policy while at the same time China is facing many economical and financial uncertainties, tensions in emerging economies/markets should remain a sizable risk that could derail the global recovery and trigger bigger spillovers than generally is anticipated.

If the Fed funds rate should move close to 1.5 percent around the end of 2015, we would see problems raising up in various emerging economies as well as in the still-weaker euro area economies. No, they aren't fit yet for raising Fed interest rates, although we all know it will happen . . . one day. When exactly, that's the million-dollar question.

Unfortunately, this is not the only serious risk that could threaten the global. While all speakers of the European Central Bank (ECB) deny that falling inflation in the euro could ignite deflation, the risk remains lurking below the surface, and once it strikes, we'll a Japan-like situation.

The OECD also expects the ECB to cut is main refinancing rate to zero percent in the near future and it should remain there as long as necessary. It's also a fact that financial fragilities continue to persist in the euro area. By the way, the day the ECB cuts to zero the euro could be expected to start its long-awaited downward path that could go well below its average value against the dollar of $1.20 per euro. I wouldn't be surprised to see it on its way to parity with the dollar, which doesn't mean it will reach parity, although that would be a welcome help for all the euro countries that still face extreme problems like growth, unemployment, competitiveness, unsustainable debt levels, etc. All that doesn't mean we could first move through $1.40 per euro.

The OECD also mentions the various geopolitical risks that have developed as of late and of which the situation in Ukraine is at this moment the most threatening development even though the markets seem to be delusionary complacent about the real dangers that situation represents.

By the way, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs has formally advised German nationals who are in the Southern and Eastern parts of the Ukraine as well as on the peninsula of the Crimea to leave the country and that consular protection for German nationals cannot be granted for the time being because of the current situation

There are also rumors that on May 9 Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend a military parade in Crimea that will be held on the occasion of the remembrance day of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

If you ask me, that doesn't bode well for what's in the offing, if, of course, that were to happen. We'll have to wait and see. It is still interesting to see how the markets continue to not worry about the whole Crimea situation.

Finally, for long-term investors, this quote from author and life coach Israelmore Ayivor is good to remember: "Complacency is a sword of two edges. One edge kills hard-earned successes, while the other end stops future glories. Complacency is a murderer and a barrier!"

Prepare yourself so you can't be taken down by surprise because of your own complacency. It doesn't really matter what others do.

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HansParisis
Prepare yourself so you can't be taken down by surprise because of your own complacency. It doesn't really matter what others do.
OECD, growth, GDP, Russia
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2014-46-06
Tuesday, 06 May 2014 02:46 PM
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