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Last Update: 03/11/2010
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Part of the audited Consolidated Financial Statements and Management´s Analysis

Trends in the global economy

  • Global gross domestic product contracted considerably in 2009 (–2.3%) and was significantly below our forecast (–0.3%)
  • Recession particularly affected industrialized countries and emerging markets
  • Government stimulus programs mitigated the economic downturn over the course of the year
  • Downturn bottomed out in the second half of 2009; growth impetus from Asia

In 2009, the global economy was shaped by the worst recession since the end of the Second World War. As a result of the global financial and economic crisis, real gross domestic product declined in almost every region – particularly in industrialized countries (–3.6%). Global gross domestic product contracted markedly in comparison with the previous year (–2.3%) and was significantly lower than we had originally forecast for 2009 (–0.3%). Following the economic slump at the end of 2008, the global economic downturn bottomed out in the second half of 2009, primarily driven by the revival of economic growth in Asia.

In 2009, the global economy was characterized by a drop in international trade and a sharp decline in demand for goods. The recession affected emerging markets as well as all the industrialized countries. Export-dependent economies, such as Germany and Japan, were particularly affected. Concerted action on the part of national central banks and governments helped to partially stabilize the global financial markets. Over the course of the year, intensified fiscal policy measures in the form of economic stimulus packages helped to mitigate the economic downturn. However, this could not prevent global gross domestic product from declining for the first time since the end of the Second World War (–2.3%).

Gross domestic product 2009

Real change compared with the previous year

Gross domestic product 2009 (bar chart)

Development by region

In 2009, Europe was in a deep recession that had already started in the second half of 2008. The downturn was a result of low consumer spending and investing activity, inventory destocking and a marked decline in exports. In contrast to the previous year, the gross domestic product of the European Union contracted (2008: +0.8%; 2009: –4.1%). It was not until the second half of 2009 that many companies began to restock inventories that had been depleted in the first half of the year. This caused capacity utilization in industry, which had been very low until then, to rise again in some areas. Government stimulus programs proved effective; they supported private and state consumption.

Economic output in the United States was also significantly lower in 2009 (–2.4%). Decreasing employment and a negative wealth effect due to declining real estate and share prices led to a drop in private consumption. Investments also declined considerably. At the end of 2009, the unemployment rate was 9.7%, around twice as high as in 2007.

Compared with the figures from the previous year and the expected long-term growth trend, Asia (excluding Japan) saw low growth in 2009 as a result of weak demand from industrialized countries. Gross domestic product growth in this region once again weakened considerably compared with the previous year (2009: +4.0%; 2008: +5.9%). Only China was able to almost fully compensate the decline in demand for export goods thanks to massive national economic stimulus packages, the creation of domestic consumer incentives and further expansion of its infrastructure. Growth in the Chinese economy (+8.7%) was only slightly below the level of the previous years. In the ASEAN region, South Korea and Taiwan, the steep decline in foreign trade caused a downturn in industrial production, which continued until well into the second half of the year in some areas.

Japan was particularly affected by the recession due to its significant trade with North America and Europe. In 2009, the country experienced a further decline in gross domestic product (–5.4%).

In South America, where regional economic growth was previously strong, the economy contracted slightly in 2009 (–1.0%). This was caused by the globally weak demand for raw materials as well as low raw materials prices.
Forecast for the economic environment in 2010

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