The reason why I bring this up is that I believe that the state of the global economy and trends at the global level are very important. Paul Krugman also emphasized this in his most recent blog (see here) which shows that recent trends have basically transferred income from the developed country working classes to the developing country middle classes (in countries such as China and India). But those are long term trends, trends that will continue slowly over future decades.
Our focus here is what really matters in 2015. In my previous blog posting (see here), I have made the case that oil prices will stay reasonably low for at least 18 months, so that for the most part of 2015 oil prices will not be on an increasing trajectory. So let's deal with each continent in turn.
|Source: Wall Street Journal, Jan 2, 2015|
In Europe, Greece remains the big problem. The "renegotiation of austerity" promised by the leftist party there, Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipras, has already sparked major fears in Europe of a showdown over the so-called Stability and Growth pact and the economic pain and suffering it has inflicted upon Greece. Although an exit from the euro (or "Grexit") has apparently been taken off the table for the moment ( - perhaps to make the leftist coalition more electable?), there is no reason why it could not be put back on the table once Syriza is in a position of power. That would leave the EU with a very interesting problem: do they make concessions to the Greeks and risk having the Portuguese, Spanish and Italians insisting on similar loosening of fiscal austerity conditions? Or do they just allow the Greeks to then openly talk about exit from the euro, with all the instability that that would cause. Clearly, until the Greek situation is resolved, the uncertainty in Europe will prevent the euro area from emerging from its economic torpor anytime soon. This means that the euro will remain under considerable pressure.
On monetary stimulus in the euro area, I think that Mario Draghi will continue to try and talk the euro area out of a mild recession, but there is just no consensus on how to do a really large and effective QE in Europe (despite what the pundits say -see here on this), so that although the limited measures still in place in Europe will continue, and may be expanded, no dramatic new programs will be announced unless things take a serious turn for the worse. Worse here means either deflation appearing or a Grexit occurring and other member states threaten to leave the euro area. This is not beyond the realm of possibility, given that Germany it appears, thinks that the euro area could cope with a Grexit (see here).
The situation in the UK in particular, will also be rather uncertain in 2015. Elections will occur in May of 2015, and there is considerable uncertainty as to which party or parties will take power. This means that the pound could depreciate in the first part of the year, and then could depreciate further in the second part of the year if a Labour government is formed, or rebound if some form of Conservative government is elected. The Bank of England will only change interest rates in the second half of the year, depending on how fiscal policy changes after the elections. Nevertheless, the UK should have accelerating economic growth as house prices continue to rise in the London area, and the wealth effect takes hold inducing higher levels of spending.
|Done by author: Data sourced from BoJ and FRED|
As for the rest of Asia, I see the Chinese economy still growing at a rapid clip, but until the euro area recovers (as it is the biggest customer for the Chinese), the Chinese economy will still have some headwinds. India is probably the most interesting place to invest in Asia right now, although of course whether Narendra Modi can actually achieve the reforms that he wishes to put in place, given the fractious nature of democracy in the country, is anybody's guess. But the potential is nevertheless there, with India now starting to emerge out of the shadows I believe that India will begin to catch up with China in terms of its economic growth trajectory.
In the rest of the world, I think Africa's economy will improve in 2015, as will that of South America, given that 2014 has delivered some hard lessons in how governments and political ambitions can often interfere with delivering and then maximizing economic growth.