IHS Inc. just released its latest economic analysis, and the report calls for slower global growth of 2.5 to 3 percent.
The analysis was released at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switerland, and follows a report that China’s economic growth for 2015 was lower than expected. China’s gross domestic product showed a 6.9 percent gain, which is below the 7 percent forecast. The growth rate is also below 2014’s 7.3 percent gain.
Consumer expenditures in the U.S. could help boost the global economy, but analysts are split on just how ready to spend the American shopper will be this year.
In the IHS report, chief economist Nariman Behravesh said the “global economy is stuck in low gear.”
“The world economy is being dragged down by supply-side and demand-side constraints,” Behravesh said in the report. “While it is easy to blame the 2008–2009 financial crisis for all the current economic woes, global growth has actually been on a downward trend since 2000.”
Behravesh said there are two supply-side limitations. The first is a “big slowdown in labor-force growth,” which in some markets is “into negative territory,” the economist said. And secondly, there’s been a sharp decline in productivity growth. And since 2007, Behravesh said there have been demand-side constraints as well.
“There is nothing inevitable about slow growth,” Behravesh added. “However, it requires governments to enact sensible long-term policies rather than succumb to short-term political expediency. In particular, policies to encourage investment in all the new technologies that are being developed could significantly boost the growth in productivity and GDP.”
On that last note, participants at the World Economic Forum are discussing the role of technology on a global scale, and the importance of investments in the sector. But not all markets are expected to fare the same.
Behravesh expects to “see a continuation of the trends witnessed since 2012, with developed economies doing a little better and most emerging markets continuing to struggle.” Behravesh added that China’s manufacturing and mining segments have impacted commodity markets, and the economies of commodity-exporting countries such as Australia and Canada. One positive note is that Behravesh “recovery killers,” including a negative impact from interest rate hikes, “are a distant threat.”
Behravesh noted that “policy tightening is not a danger to recoveries in most parts of the world — in fact, from a global perspective, monetary policy may become a little more stimulative in 2016.”
In a separate report from Brian Jackson, China economist at IHS Global Insight, China’s 6.9 percent GDP growth was due to slowing quarterly growth that “arose entirely from a deceleration in service sector growth, almost certainly due to falling financial services contributions.”
Jackson said China is “undergoing a structural shift from industry and construction to services that will have lasting impacts on the composition of growth.” By way of outlook, the economist said the “long-term reasons for China’s weaker growth have not substantially changed – a slow grind of old industries and excess investment.”
China’s economic condition — along with cheap oil — were two factors that triggered a global equities sell-off over the past two weeks. For investors in the U.S. retail sector, the state of consumer spending also caused concern. And after a lackluster holiday season that saw shoppers spending more on furniture and dining out than apparel, investors pulled back even more, which caused the S&P Retailing Industry Index to suffer steeper declines than other market segments.
But analysts at Telsey Advisory Group told investors this morning in an ICR XChange Conference wrap-up that the “holiday season seems to have been a little better-than-anticipated, though not great (NRF final holiday season growth rate was 3 percent, below its forecast for 3.7 percent). And investors already expect conservative outlooks for 2016.”
“We heard many companies being asked if the consumer is in a recession, and for the most part, the answer was no,” the Telsey analysts said. “Management teams reminded investors that the consumer is benefiting from improving wages, lower unemployment, lower gas prices, and solid home values.”
However, Ike Boruchow, senior analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, said with “the ICR conference behind us, it’s clear that holiday was so-so, and based on our checks it seems that post-Christmas traffic picked up and promotions moderated. That said, our recent conversations with investors point to a lack of confidence in underlying retail fundamentals, with many set to remain in a holding pattern until we get a better handle on what 2016 has to offer.”