Business Cycle Forecast, Summer 2008: Price Hikes and Financial Crisis Cloud Growth Prospects
In the summer of 2008 the turmoil on financial markets and that on the markets for energy dim the prospects for the world economy. The acceleration of the oil price hike during the first half of the year has led to an increase in expected inflation and to higher interest rates on capital markets, while stock prices are going down. At the same time, the financial crisis is far from over, and banks in the US and in Western Europe continue in their efforts to consolidate their balance sheets. Thus, the expansion of credit supply will be scarcer in the next quarters. All this means that demand will slow in the developed economies during the next quarters. However, the massive fiscal stimulus will help the US economy to stabilize, and the world economy still benefits from the high growth dynamics in the emerging markets economies. All in all, the developed economies will not reach their potential growth rate before the second half of 2009. In Germany, the upswing comes to a temporary halt during summer of this year. Slowing foreign demand and the oil price hike induce firms to postpone investments, and private consumption, the soft spot of the upswing in Germany, is still sluggish due to high inflation rates that impair purchasing power. For the end of 2008, chances are good that growth in Germany accelerates again, because German exporters are still penetrating emerging markets as competitiveness does not diminish. All in all, the German economy will grow by 2.3% in 2008 (mainly due to the very high dynamics at the beginning of the year) and by 1.3% in 2009. A main risk of this forecast is that monetary policy fails in easing the high inflationary pressures. As to fiscal policy, efforts to reach sustainable public finances should not weaken.