Deloitte Research's Fourth Quarter 2010 Global Economic Outlook Examines the Pace of Growth in the World's Major Markets

26 October 2010

Growing global imbalances threaten a sustainable recovery; failure to adjust to new realities will only perpetuate uncertainty and volatility.

In the fourth quarter issue of the Global Economic Outlook, Deloitte Research economists examine the current economic environment and, in particular, the varied pace of growth and global imbalances impacting nine of the world's major markets: the United States, Eurozone, China, India, Japan, United Kingdom, Russia, Brazil, and Australia.

"The global economy is imbalanced," says Ira Kalish, Director of Global Economics, Deloitte Research, part of Deloitte Services LP in the United States. "The money is flowing out of developed countries that have been supporting unusually low interest rates for some time into higher interest rate emerging countries. At the same time, rapid growth in emerging markets is creating new inflationary pressures. Many governments are intervening in their currency markets to improve export competitiveness, further exacerbating inflation.

"Additionally, countries that have traditionally relied on exports--China, Japan, Germany--and need to move toward domestic-led growth continue to depend heavily on exports. Meanwhile, countries that have relied heavily on consumer spending (the U.S. and UK), and need to export more face competitive devaluations in their target export markets. Even though the adjustments needed to address these new realities will involve short-term pain, the failure to do so will only delay the day of reckoning."

Highlights of the Q4 issue include:

• The United States is currently experiencing an epidemic of thrift as banks, non-financial corporations, and households hoard cash. Expanding the money supply and sparking inflation can result in stronger spending. While embracing higher inflation is a high risk strategy, it's also the path of least resistance out of the post-credit crisis liquidity trap that is currently inhibiting growth.

• The economic imbalances in the Eurozone continue. Strong export-driven growth in Germany and France is spilling over to the domestic sector, but fringe countries are still struggling as a result of financial market stress. The imminent move toward tighter regulation and stricter controls will be painful in the short run, but is ultimately likely to help the Eurozone to become a truly integrated economic region.

• The Chinese economy appears headed for a soft landing, as opposed to a full blown deceleration, which is good news--both for China's trade partners and China. Yet, China's shifting demographics--starting in 2011, the number of dependents (mainly retirees) will rise faster than the number of workers, reversing the trend of the past two decades when the ratio of dependents to workers has been declining--is likely to lead to slower future growth.

• The outlook on the Indian economy is generally positive. A good harvest season is expected to help feed the substantial appetite for consumption in the domestic sector. But policymakers will have to address the appreciating rupee and rising inflation.

• The Japanese economy remains weak due to stagnant consumer spending and decelerating business investment amidst a small surge in imports. Moreover, the current political turmoil in the country is not conducive to economic success. Reviving consumer and business confidence will be keys to Japan's success.

• In the United Kingdom a surprisingly strong recovery will likely be followed by a slowdown in growth. As the United Kingdom rebalances the economy toward industrial production, exports and capital spending, consumers and government will likely play less of a role as drivers of growth.

• Policymakers in Russia are facing significant disparities. They must balance concerns about growth and currency values with worries about potential inflation. They must also weigh the desire to invest in new infrastructure with aspirations to limit government debt. Longer term, the possibility of joining the World Trade Organization could help Russia diversify away from an excessive dependence on commodities.

• Brazil's economy is rapidly growing. Cooling down the economy may not be an easy task. The country's next president will have to safeguard against hyperinflation and a rising currency.

• In Australia, the growth that was punted by government funding and healthy export volumes may not carry forward to future quarters. A slowdown in global economic conditions hint at some deceleration ahead.

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