Global economy hobbled by Europe, 2013 promises more

The global economy will labour against a dismal tide from recession-hit Europe for the rest of this year, but 2013 should bring better growth, according to Reuters polls of hundreds of economists worldwide.

While few expected 2012 would be anything other than a difficult year for the world economy, there was at least hope a resilient United States and fast-growing emerging markets would keep it moving in the right direction.

Those hopes now looks misplaced. The U.S. shows clear signs of slowing and Asia's exporting economies have been hurt by slumping demand from Europe, where the euro zone is likely back in recession.

Still, there is cautious optimism big Asian economies like China will start to recover by the end of this year, dragging the world towards better growth in 2013.

The global economy will grow around 3.2 percent in 2012 and 3.7 percent next year, the poll showed, a slight downgrade from April's poll and slower than the International Monetary Fund's reading of 3.9 percent for 2011.

Gerard Lyons, chief economist at Standard Chartered in London, said it was still very much a tale of two worlds.

"In the West the fundamentals are still not very good, confidence is fragile, and the policy cupboard is relatively bare," he said.

"In contrast across the emerging world, the fundamentals are mixed, confidence is a lot more resilient, and very importantly, the policy cupboard is quite full."

"The policy cupboard in the emerging world, particularly China, will play a key role in how things pan out this year."

Lyons pointed out the risk of a new external shock, like a sudden rise in oil prices, leaves fragile major rich world economies in a precarious position.

Forecasters chopped their outlook for the U.S. economy for a second month in a row, and now give a 50-50 chance the Federal Reserve will embark on a third round of money printing to try to spur growth.

"The U.S. still faces a steady, not a spectacular, recovery. America faces a fiscal cliff, a regulatory mountain and a jobs depression. It's not a great topography, but there is growth," said Lyons.

Indeed, the poll showed the U.S. economy growing 2.0 percent in 2012 - a lot better than the 0.4 percent decline foreseen by economists in the euro zone.

Conversely, Japan's economy, the world's third largest, is expected to outperform most of its developed nation peers this year thanks to solid domestic demand, but analysts have slashed forecasts for factory output.

Thursday's survey is the latest in a long line of Reuters polls to reflect a darkening mood. In recent weeks, analysts have slashed their outlook for stock markets, government bond yields, risk currencies and commodity prices. 

 

EURO ZONE: BACK IN RECESSION

The European currency union has sunk back into its second recession since 2009, the poll suggested, as the debt crisis that has ravaged the continent for over two years continues to stifle growth.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim warned on Wednesday that most regions of the world will be hurt by the debt crisis enveloping the euro zone and said it could trigger a deep global recession. 

"The question is how long this recession will last," said Uwe Duerkop, economist at Landesbank Berlin.

"We have a chance to come back to growth at the end of the year but if the political crisis stays as it is with no (concrete) decisions there is a risk the recession could be longer."

Europe's biggest economy Germany should skirt recession but growth there will be very modest until next year, when analysts reckon it will pick up steam with the rest of the global economy. 

Most euro zone forecasts hinged on the assumption there will be no sudden escalation of the sovereign debt crisis.

Britain's economy will wallow in recession three months longer than previously expected but the country's hosting of the Olympic Games should vault it back to growth this quarter. 

 

 EMERGING SLOWLY

 In Asia, optimism has faded with growth in its biggest economies slowing considerably this year, likely compelling central banks to keep policy accommodative for longer.

 While growth in China's economy is expected to weaken to 8.0 percent this year, a rate many consider the borderline between a potentially severe slowdown and a mild one, the growth outlook for India was slashed to 6.3 percent this fiscal year, which would be the slowest pace in a decade.

 "It is going to be a long hard slog back up," said Vishnu Varathan, economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank in Singapore, who feels that this time around Asia isn't going to see the V-shaped rebound it experienced after the 2008-09 global crisis.

 Even though India and China will no longer provide enough steam to drive Asia's growth to pre-crisis levels, Southeast Asia is a bright spot in the otherwise gloomy scenario.

 "Where Southeast Asia is in good stead is it doesn't have the domestic problems like India does," said Daniel Martin, economist at Capital Economics in Singapore.

 "The fundamentals look good. They don't have issues with inflation like in India and there have been far fewer question marks over governance."

 Latin American economies will grow this year at a slower pace than previously expected, but that doesn't mean the region's increasingly dovish central banks will follow Brazil's example and take aggressive action to spur growth, a Reuters poll showed.

 Even with inflation under control in most major Latin American countries, an expected rebound in activity will likely keep rate cuts on hold or even make the case for small hikes in Brazil, Chile and Peru through the end of next year.