Economic developments

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Macro-economy

In 2015, the global economy grew at a rate of between 3.0% and 3.5% for the fourth year running. On a worldwide scale, this economic growth was rather stable. Quarter-on-quarter growth for the G20 countries came to 0.7% in each of the first three quarters of 2015.

United States

US economic growth was 2.5% in 2015 and was driven by increased consumer spending in four categories: cars, leisure, food services and house construction. The stronger US dollar led to a noticeable deterioration of the US trade balance. Excluding energy, the trade deficit increased from 1.7% to 2.4% of the US national product.

Eurozone

In the eurozone, too, the consumer was the biggest contributor to economic growth. Partly due to a 9.6% increase in car sales, consumption rose almost 1.7%. Consumer confidence remained remarkably strong throughout the year. Unemployment declined steadily, albeit slowly.

China

In China, the economy lost some strength and major transformations are occuring, including a changeover from investment-driven growth to consumer-driven growth and from an industrial economy to a service economy. As from August, China relaxed the relationship between the US dollar and the Chinese yuan.

Emerging markets

Especially in commodity exporting countries economic growth disappointed. In Brazil, Russia and South Africa the economy contracted two quarters in a row. In most countries, the general price level rose around 0.5% in 2015. The fall of the oil price and prices for other commodities was the main factor that depressed inflation. In a number of weaker emerging markets (including Brazil, Russia, Turkey and South Africa), however, inflation actually rose sharply. This was due to their very weak currencies, which drove up import prices.

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