“Policy mistakes remain the biggest threats to global growth in 2019 and beyond,” IHS Markit Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh said. “Simmering trade conflicts are dangerous, not because they have done damage so far – they haven’t – but because they could easily escalate. At the same time, the sell-off in equity and commodity markets, on top of the gradual removal of stimuli by some central banks, means that financial conditions worldwide are tightening. The good news is that the probability of a single policy event seriously hurting global growth in 2019 is still relatively low.”
The U.S. economy is expected to grow at a rate of at 2.6% in 2019, less than the 2.9 percent growth seen in 2018, but still indicative of solid economic fundamentals. The new year will see countervailing pressures on U.S. growth: on the downside, the rising dollar, tightening credit conditions and higher tariffs could still hurt growth; on the upside, low interest rates, fiscal stimulus and constrained oil prices bode well for the U.S. economy.
IHS Markit predicts Europe’s economic expansion will slow even further, declining to 1.5% in 2019. Several adverse economic and political factors are behind the continued deceleration, including less accommodative credit conditions, the negative impact of trade tensions on the manufacturing sector and exports and the appreciation of the Euro against most currencies except the U.S. dollar. Political risks have also increased significantly, contributing to the four-year low in business sentiment illustrated by the PMI by IHS Markit. Last, but by no means least, the continuing turmoil around Brexit will hurt UK growth, which will fall from 1.3% in 2018 to 1.1% in 2019.
Other Top 10 predictions include:
- Japan’s recovery will remain weak, expanding at a rate of 0.9% in 2019 after growing 0.8% in 2018, as the slowdown in China’s economy and the fallout from trade tensions between the U.S. and China impact growth. The expected rise in construction spending ahead of the 2020 Olympics will sustain growth in 2019, but the boost will fade by the end of the year;
- China’s economy will keep decelerating, slowing to 6.3% growth in 2019. However, in response to ultra-high debt levels, and the (so far limited) impact of the U.S. tariffs on China’s growth, policymakers have unleashed a series of monetary and fiscal measures to help support growth and stabilize financial markets;
- Growth in emerging markets has plateaued and will retreat in 2019 to 4.6%, feeling the effects of slower growth in advanced economies and world trade, tightening global financial conditions, the strong U.S. dollar and rising political uncertainty in countries such as Brazil and Mexico;
- The volatility in commodity markets will continue. Nevertheless, demand growth next year still looks strong enough to provide markets with support, making the kind of price collapse seen during 2015 unlikely. IHS Markit predicts that commodity prices at the end of 2019 will be on par with current levels;
- Inflation will not rise much – if at all;
- The U.S. Federal Reserve will stay the course by raising interest rates only gradually, with a likely hike in December 2018, three interest rate increases in 2019 and one in 2020. The Bank of Canada, the Bank of England (pending the Brexit process) and a few emerging-market central banks may raise rates next year. Meanwhile, we do not expect the European Central Bank to hike rates until early 2020 or the Bank of Japan to end its negative interest-rate policy until 2021. The People’s Bank of China is the one major central bank moving in the opposite direction, providing modest stimulus;
- The U.S. dollar will maintain its strength against most currencies, with IHS Markit expecting the greenback to hold at the current elevated levels for much of 2019.