Last Update:
Mar. 10, 2011
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Part of the audited Consolidated Financial Statements and Management´s Analysis

Trends in the global economy

  • Significant year-on-year increase in global gross domestic product (+3.9%), surpassing our original forecast (+2.7%)
  • Slight growth slowdown in the second half of the year
  • Economic growth supported by the dynamic development of emerging markets in Asia and South America, economic stimulus programs and inventory restocking

There was a dynamic recovery in the global economy in all regions in 2010 following the severe recession in the previous year. The strong upturn in the first half of the year was followed by weaker growth in the second half. Global gross domestic product rose significantly overall in comparison with the previous year (+3.9%) and was higher than our original 2010 forecast (+2.7%).

In 2010, the strong growth in global gross domestic product (+3.9%) was mainly a result of the dynamic economic development in emerging markets in Asia and South America, the positive effects of government economic stimulus programs and the restocking of industrial inventories. Other growth impetus resulted from the worldwide rise in demand for capital goods and the marked revival of international trade, which particularly allowed export-oriented economies such as Germany and Japan to recover quickly.

Gross domestic product 2010
Real change compared with the previous year

Gross domestic product 2010 (bar chart)

Development by region

Given the fiscal problems of some European countries, there were major discrepancies in the growth rates in Europe in 2010. Overall, gross domestic product increased sharply in the first half of the year, but growth weakened in the second half. Private consumption, in particular, slowed following the end of the fiscal stimulus programs. In contrast to the previous year, growth in gross domestic product in the European Union recovered (2009: –4.2%; 2010: +1.9%). There was a significant increase in industrial capacity utilization, which had fallen as a result of the economic crisis. Germany especially benefited from the global economic recovery: Strong foreign demand for capital goods led to a sharp increase in net exports and therefore to above-average growth (+3.6%).

In the United States, the average economic output in 2010 increased again markedly (+3.0%). Strong impetus was generated by expansive fiscal and monetary policies. Relatively high unemployment hindered a recovery in private consumption. The continued low level of construction investment slowed overall economic growth. Uncertainties on the international capital and currency markets led over the course of the year to significant fluctuations in the value of the U.S. dollar versus other currencies.

Economic output in Asia (excluding Japan) rose sharply in 2010 (+9.2%), driven in particular by China’s dynamic economic growth (+10.3%). The Chinese government’s massive economic stimulus and infrastructure programs strengthened the country’s economic development. Demand for consumer and capital goods in China acted as stimulus for the other economies in Eastern and South East Asia. India had been relatively unaffected by the economic crisis and also experienced strong growth in 2010 (+10.6%).

While the growth rate in Japan was strong in the first quarter of 2010, the economy stagnated toward the end of the year. The significant rise in the value of the yen had a negative impact on foreign demand in the second half of the year. The end of fiscal stimulus programs also had a detrimental effect on economic growth. Japan’s export sector benefited from Chinese demand. Gross domestic product rose noticeably in comparison with the previous year (+3.5%).

Growth in South America was considerable in 2010 (+6.1%). Economic recovery was powered by a renewed increase in raw materials exports, ongoing solid consumer demand and increasing foreign direct investment. Regional growth drivers were primarily increasing domestic demand and investing activity in Brazil.
Forecast for the economic environment in 2011

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