London – The world’s top economies are likely to put in a strong performance this year, before growth starts to slow in the United States, Britain and Japan in 2005, according to a Reuters poll.
The poll of 160 economists on the outlook for the Group of Seven industrialised nations showed that only Canada and the Eurozone are expected to show faster growth in 2005. The sharpest slowdown in growth was expected in Japan.
“For the U.S. and Japan the peak in the growth rates is 2004 and therefore any growth gap between the regions would narrow as Europe catches up with the rest,” said Adolf Rosenstock at Nomura International.
In the United States, the world’s largest economy, gross domestic product (GDP) growth, adjusted by Reuters for international comparisons, was seen at 4.5 percent this year before slipping to 3.9 percent in 2005.
The British economy will grow at a steady pace this year, but the recovery may lose some momentum in 2005 as higher interest rates crimp consumer spending. The poll gave mid-range forecasts for gross domestic product growth of 3.3 percent for this year and 2.7 percent for next year.
“There is some risk of slower growth due to the rising interest rates and their impact on consumer and housing activity,” said Veronique Riches-Flores at Societe Generale in Paris.
In the euro zone, the coming months could bring signs of improving consumer demand. In 2003 euro zone GDP grew just 0.4 percent. Better demand, together with a strong performance in the first quarter and expectations of a robust market for European exports prompted economists to push up their forecasts for 2004 growth by 0.2 percentage points to 1.8 percent.
“The expectation that the global recovery will continue is so much firmer and there is much more confidence in strong exports growth,” said Nomura’s Rosenstock.
Of the bloc’s top three economies, France was seen putting in the best performance – 2.2 percent growth in 2004 and 2005 – as high house prices encourage consumer spending.
Growth was seen at a more subdued 1.8 percent in Germany and 1.2 percent in Italy this year, with both picking up in 2005.
Recovering domestic demand could also help growth in Canada, even if its currency continues to rise against the dollar on expectations of future rate rises. Growth estimates for the smallest G7 economy, recalculated by Reuters from original annualised forecasts, were 2.7 percent this year and rising to 3.2 next year.
Overall, the sharpest slowdown in growth was expected in Japan, whose businesses could suffer from slacker demand from the United States and softer growth in China.
“Growth will definitely slow as we lose some of the heated growth in exports and production,” said Junichi Makino at Daiwa Institute of Research in Tokyo.
Forecasts from the survey, recalculated by Reuters to give figures for calendar years, showed Japan growing 4.5 percent in 2004, before slowing to 2.1 percent in the following 12 months.
Summary of findings and methodology These tables (below) take the median (mid-range) forecasts from the national polls. National conventions differ on how to measure gross domestic product growth, so Reuters has recalculated the GDP forecasts for the United States, Japan and Canada to make these directly comparable with forecasts for European countries. Polling was carried out July 12-16. Reuters surveyed a total of around 160 economists in separate surveys covering the United States, the euro zone, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada.
July Survey Previous Survey (April)
Country 2004 – 2005 – 2004 – 2005
US 4.5 – 3.9 – 4.7 – 3.8
Japan 4.5 – 2.1 – 3.1 – 1.6
UK 3.3 – 2.7 – 3.1 – 2.7
Canada 2.7 – 3.2 – 2.7 – 3.1
Germany 1.8 – 1.8 – 1.5 – 1.9
France 2.2 – 2.2 – 1.7 – 2.2
Italy 1.2 – 2.1 – 1.2 – 2.1
G7 Average 2.6 – 2.5
Eurozone 1.8 – 2.1 – 1.6 – 2.1
Source: About Economics