Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Prospects Ahead for the World Economy

The following slides illustrate the history and predictions on the global economy through 2050 [Presented by Spiegel Online with data sourced from Madison, IMF, and Goldman Sachs].

In 2005 - China has risen to the ranks of a global economic power and sets out on a course to surpass other nations in terms of economic might. Russia lags, India starts to develop, even if only gradually.

The World in 2050 - The investment bank Goldman Sachs peers into the time machine: China has soared above the United States. Europe, once the motor of industrialization, has fallen markedly behind -- even India is ahead. Resource rich Russia has reestablished itself as a global player.

Article: World May Face `Japan-Like' Economic Stagnation, GIC's Tan Says by Shamim Adam

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The world may face ``Japan-like'' economic stagnation as turmoil in financial markets weighs on growth and challenges the ability of policy makers to manage the crisis, Government of Singapore Investment Corp. said.

Global growth will probably be weak in the next few years, and protectionist and populist policies are likely to emerge, said Tony Tan, deputy chairman of GIC, in a speech in Geneva yesterday. The sovereign fund, which oversees more than $100 billion, has pumped billions into UBS AG and Citigroup Inc. after they posted writedowns linked to U.S. subprime mortgages.

``Policy responses so far have tried to minimize the likelihood of a Japan-like deflationary spiral but the adjustment could take a couple of years and be very painful,'' Tan said. ``Over the near term, debt deflation and deleveraging in the U.S. and other major developed economies will exert downward pressure on growth in many economies.''

An asset-price bubble in Japan burst in the early 1990s, triggering a property and stock market collapse that heralded a decade of stagnation in the world's second-largest economy. Financial institutions worldwide have reported more than $500 billion in losses and writedowns since the beginning of 2007 and the credit-market collapse erased $11 trillion from global stocks in the past year.

The worst U.S. housing slump since the 1930s is showing little sign of abating and more than 10 lenders in the world's largest economy have collapsed this year. The U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Housing Finance Agency this month seized control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after the biggest surge in mortgage defaults in at least three decades threatened to topple the companies.

`More Severe'

``If house-price declines are significantly greater than expected, larger financial institutions could become insolvent, the credit crunch would be more severe and economic growth could weaken considerably,'' Tan said. ``A vicious deflationary cycle with falling house prices, failing financial institutions and weaker growth could then ensue.''

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. is preparing to file for bankruptcy after Barclays Plc and Bank of America Corp. abandoned talks to buy the U.S. securities firm, according to a person with direct knowledge of the firm's plans.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. last month estimated that half of the world economy already faces recession, with richer nations faring the worst as emerging markets continue to expand. The global economy faces a 25 percent chance of recession in the next year, according to UBS AG economists.

Emerging Markets

Japan's economy shrank 3 percent last quarter, the steepest decline since 2001, while the euro-area economy contracted 0.2 percent in the same period. The U.S. economy, which expanded at a 3.3 percent annual pace in the second quarter, has lost 605,000 jobs in the first eight months of the year.

Emerging markets will account for more than half of the world's growth in the next decade, from about a fifth in 2000, Tan predicts.

``Growth in emerging markets can be expected to remain relatively robust,'' he said. ``Emerging economies will displace the G-7 as the world's largest economies over the next two to three decades.''

A rising ``middle-class'' in emerging markets will also increase demand for commodities and increase supply constraints that may spur competition for resources, he said.

Natural Resources

``International tensions could rise as countries compete for natural resources, especially food, energy and water,'' Tan said. ``Commodity-producing countries are likely to exert stronger control over their natural resources, potentially exacerbating supply concerns. Countries that are reliant on imports of commodities could be more aggressive in their pursuit of supplies.''

Weaker employment and income growth could lead to a rise in protectionist policies, especially in the U.S. and Europe, Tan said. Governments need to increase conflict-resolution mechanisms and boost cooperation to solve issues amid the emergence of new major economies, he said, citing the World Trade Organization Doha Round of talks as an example.

Trade ministers have tried and failed to reach a breakthrough in the so-called Doha Round talks in each of the past three years. A nine-day summit at the WTO in Geneva collapsed on July 29 after India and the U.S. disagreed over how poor nations could increase duties to protect their economies from surging farm imports.

``Significant stagnation as well as inflation risks suggest that challenges and potential conflicts arising from both protectionism as well as resource nationalism could seriously jeopardize globalization of production and markets,'' Tan said.


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