The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting a decline in global economic output of 1.1% in 2009 and a drop in world trade of 11.9%. Although this represents a slight improvement in the IMF’s outlook, the slump remains very real. By contrast, there are increasing signs that global production and world trade will continue recovering in the coming months, albeit at a slow pace. Extensive national stimulus packages and extremely low key interest rates in nearly every country are playing an important role in the upturn.
In the United States, the economy is expected to have recovered slightly in the second half of the year, although GDP for the year will sink noticeably (IMF: -2.7%, Postbank Research: -2.6%). The upward economic trend will likely continue in the coming year, although growth is expected to remain at a low level (IMF: 1.5%, Postbank Research: 1.8%).
The Japanese economy will not be able to fully recover from the collapse it suffered at the beginning of the year. GDP in 2009 will fall considerably (IMF: -5.4%, Postbank Research: -5.8%), with forecasts calling for a return to positive figures in 2010 (IMF: 1.7%, Postbank Research: 1.3%). According to the IMF, China’s economic momentum in 2009 (8.5%) is likely to remain high compared with other countries and regions and may even increase to 9.0% in 2010.
Economic output in the euro zone is expected to shrink markedly overall in 2009 (IMF: -4.2%, Postbank Research: -3.7%). Forecasts are divided on the likely trend in the coming year: Whilst unemployment will rise further, an improving global climate points toward a moderate economic recovery (IMF: 0.3%, IfW Kiel: 0.8%, Postbank Research: 1.5%).
In Germany, 2009 GDP is likely to fall more sharply than in the euro zone (IMF: -5.3%, IfW Kiel: -4.9%, Postbank Research: -4.7%) given that Germany’s export-orientated industry has been hit especially hard by the collapse in world trade at the beginning of the year. In line with forecasts on the euro zone as a whole, opinions are also divided on the extent of economic progress in Germany in the coming year (IMF: 0.3%, IfW Kiel: 1.0%, Postbank Research: 1.7%).
Even if the economic recovery fails to materialise across the board, we expect a smaller drop in transport volumes if not a slight increase based on the low comparative basis. It also remains to be seen whether freight rates in the forwarding sector actually increase as announced.