Macroeconomic conditions

The global economy is experiencing an upturn and, in 2017, expanded at a much stronger rate than in previous years. Significant stimulus came from the economic recovery in the European Union (EU), robust growth in the United States and generally resurgent expansion in emerging markets. The world’s economy was also boosted by increasing investment activity and the growth of foreign trade in Asia. This in turn benefited global trade, which boomed. Demand from consumers remained robust, which also had a positive effect.

Overall, the growth of economies in the EU was markedly higher than in the previous year but also broader and stronger. Receding political risks – despite the UK’s approaching departure from the EU – provided support for domestic demand. The EU countries also benefited from the revival of global trade and the related increase in export business.

In the United States, economic growth was much faster than in 2016. This expansion was driven by a robust job market, rising consumer spending, corporate capital expenditure and foreign trade.

China’s growth held steady at the prior-year level, supported by an increase in public-sector investment. The inhibiting effect on growth of the continued sharp rise in debt levels was more than offset by the country’s expansionary economic policy. > DIAGRAM 004