Economic growth globally will remain uneven in 2013

World economy will post growth of about 2.6% this year, much the same as in 2012

March 6, 2013   by PLANT STAFF

OTTAWA—Economic growth in China and Brazil will shine, Europe and Japan will lose ground, while US growth will remain hostage to political confrontations, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s World Outlook: Winter 2013.

Overall, the world economy will post growth of about 2.6% this year, much the same as in 2012. Some of the report’s highlights include:

  • The death of President Hugo Chavez adds to the uncertainty in the Venezuelan economy.
  • Despite the gloom hanging over Europe, there is reason for cautious
  • optimism that aggressive policy action will keep the eurozone intact.
  • China’s economy is expected to grow by around 8% this year.
  • Japan is in its fifth recession in 15 years.

Although emerging markets led by the Asia-Pacific region should grow strongly this year, much of the developed world has been dragged lower by the downturn in the eurozone. The modest growth in the US economy is at risk due to automatic budget cuts that were implemented in early March.

The European Union and European Central Bank took aggressive action last year, confirming that they will do what they must to preserve the common currency. These steps lowered the pressure on the European financial system and banks. Nevertheless, the Conference Board expects real GDP in the eurozone to contract by 0.1% this year, the second consecutive year of decline. Due to fiscal austerity, recessionary conditions will persist this year in many countries, including Italy, Spain, and Greece.


The US managed to avoid tumbling over the fiscal cliff in January, but the President and Congress could not reach agreement to avoid the spending sequester that kicked in on March 1. As a result, $85 billion in cuts to government spending will take place this fiscal year. Also, a decision to lift the debt ceiling must be addressed by the end of March. The US Outlook calls for growth of a tepid 2.3% this year – although a political agreement to tackle the country’s fiscal challenges would give cause for higher-than-forecast growth.

Public investment in infrastructure and a recovery in demand for high-technology goods and services are boosting industrial production in many Asia-Pacific countries. Excluding slumping Japan, real GDP in the region will expand by 6.6%, up from a gain of around 6% last year. Japan finds itself in yet another recession years – due in part to the approaching end of government spending on earthquake reconstruction.

Most economies in the Latin-American region started to pick up speed at the end of last year. Venezuela, however, could easily slip into recession this year if the death of President Hugo Chavez continues to paralyze economic decision-making in the country. Latin America will benefit from mining investment and a rebound in economic growth in Brazil, the region’s most powerful economy. The Brazilian economy is expected to expand by 3.4% this year, due in part to infrastructure preparations for the 2014 World Cup of soccer.

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