OECD Economic Outlook

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The OECD Economic Outlook is the OECD’s twice-yearly analysis of the major economic trends and prospects for the next two years. Prepared by the OECD Economics Department, the Outlook puts forward a consistent set of projections for output, employment, government spending, prices and current balances based on a review of each member country and of the induced effect on each of them on international developments.

Coverage is provided for all OECD member countries as well as for selected non-member countries. Each issue includes a general assessment, chapters summarizing developments and providing projections for each individual country, three to five chapters on topics of current interest such as housing, and an extensive statistical annex with a wide variety of variables including general debt.
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OECD Economic Outlook, Volume 2009 Issue 2

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05 Jan 2010
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This November 2009 issue of OECD's twice-yearly OECD Economic Outlook provides analysis of recent economic developments and economic projections for OECD and major non-OECD countries through the end of 2011. This issue contains a special chapter entitled "The automobile industry in and beyond the crisis". It examines how closely the automobile and business cycles are related, how the automobile industry been affected by the crisis and what are the prospects for car sales.
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  • Preparing the Exit
    The recovery that began earlier this year in a number of non-OECD economies has now spread to the OECD area at large. But in most OECD economies, growth is likely to fluctuate around a modest underlying rate for some time to come. It is being held back by still substantial headwinds as households, financial institutions, non-financial enterprises and, eventually, governments have to repair their balance sheets. This also means that unemployment is set to move higher and already-low inflation will be under further downward pressure. It is only some time down the line that the recovery will become sufficiently strong to begin to reduce unemployment.
  • General Assessment of the Macroeconomic Situation
    Growth in the OECD area has resumed after the most virulent recession in decades. The recovery is driven by exceptionally strong demand-supporting policy measures, public interventions in financial markets, a strong pick-up in demand in the non-OECD area and a positive contribution from inventory adjustment. Notwithstanding the support to growth in the coming two years from recent and assumed future improvements in financial conditions, the continued need to strengthen financial institutions, on-going private sector balance sheet adjustment and waning macroeconomic policy support are likely to imply a moderate recovery (Table 1.1). Area-wide unemployment is set to continue to rise well into 2010 and to fall only modestly in 2011 from its peak of over 9% of the labour force. The exceptional slack in the economy will push down underlying inflation further to very low levels in several countries, though only a few will experience falling price levels.
  • The Automobile Industry in and Beyond the Crisis
    The automobile industry is among the sectors that have been hit most by the recession. Demand for cars fell sharply, accentuating the difficulties of excess production capacity already faced before the crisis and deepening the economic downturn in major car-producing countries. Relative to the general downturn, the decline in car sales was nonetheless not deeper than what was observed in the past.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Developments in individual OECD countries

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    • United States
      The economy is gradually coming out of a severe recession. The decline of output has ceased since the summer, though significant trouble spots remain. The risk of new large bankruptcies in the banking system has diminished, but equity capital will need to be replenished to offset financial losses. The household sector is also undergoing significant adjustment, with a sharp reduction of debt and rebuilding of assets. Sizable macroeconomic stimulus and easing financial conditions will support growth, though it will be somewhat weaker than during past recoveries. Unemployment will decline slowly.
    • Japan
      The severe recession triggered by the global crisis has bottomed out, thanks in part to a rebound in exports, although production remains well below capacity. In addition, fiscal stimulus is partially offsetting the impact of falling employment and wages on domestic demand. Growth is projected to pick up gradually to around 2% in 2011, due in part to the new government’s plan to increase public spending. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate is likely to stay around 5½ per cent through 2011 and deflation will persist.
    • Euro area
      The sharp contraction in euro area activity appears to have ended sooner than anticipated, with further improvements in financial conditions, fiscal stimulus measures and stabilisation of export demand. However, headwinds from financial sector deleveraging and rising unemployment suggest that the recovery will be gradual. Despite the improved outlook, core inflation should continue to moderate until the end of 2010 due to substantial economic slack.
    • Germany
      Following the sharp decline in the first quarter of the year, real GDP increased in the second quarter, helped by the temporary surge in private consumption growth in response to stimulus measures. The recovery continued in the third quarter on account of an improvement in world trade and stockbuilding. Going forward, the improvement in activity could be relatively slow, especially through to mid- 2010. Unemployment remains unusually low, not least due to the government-sponsored short-time working scheme which allows firms to reduce labour input without layoffs. While unemployment is projected to increase rapidly during 2010 the total employment loss will be mild compared with the depth of the recession.
    • France
      After falling by 2.2% in 2009, real GDP is projected to grow slowly, by 1.4% in 2010 and 1.7% in 2011, led by business investment and exports. This will not be enough to prevent the unemployment rate from rising until the beginning of 2011, resulting in inflation of below 1% per year.
    • Italy
      The severe recession in Italy started earlier than elsewhere but activity rebounded in the third quarter. Improved financial conditions have helped rebuild confidence and bolster domestic demand. Further support to exports will come from the recovery in world trade. Higher unit labour costs, despite some falls in wage costs, and the oil price upturn will moderate the decline in inflation, even as unemployment rises somewhat further.
    • United Kingdom
      The economy is set for recovery, supported by improving financial conditions, an expansionary monetary policy and stronger international growth. However, the pick-up will be slow with GDP projected to grow by slightly more than 1% in 2010 reflecting strong headwinds from balance sheet adjustments, a still weakening labour market and fiscal tightening. In 2011 the recovery will gain momentum, but resource utilisation will remain low and the unemployment rate is projected to reach 9.5%. Inflation is likely to remain below the 2% target for an extended period.
    • Canada
      The contraction that began in the last quarter of 2008 seems to have ended in the second half of 2009. External demand and domestic investment now appear to be rebounding, but they also pose the greatest risks to the recovery’s sustainability. Unemployment is projected to keep rising until the end of 2009 and underlying disinflation to continue for several more quarters under the weight of persistent slack.
    • Australia
      Having been less affected by the crisis than most other OECD countries, Australia is likely to experience a relatively more robust recovery. Growth is projected to pick up to 2½ per cent in 2010 and 3½ per cent in 2011, with unemployment peaking at around 6¼ per cent in 2010 and inflation moderating.
    • Austria
      In 2010, Austria is expected to recover from its worst recession in decades thanks to the improved external environment and supportive policies. If these conditions continue to prevail, growth should accelerate to its potential in 2011. Nevertheless, unemployment is set to increase until end-2010 and inflation, while inching up, will remain subdued.
    • Belgium
      The economy embarked on a slow recovery during the second half of 2009, supported by fiscal and monetary easing and an acceleration in world trade. Growth will not suffice to prevent further increases in unemployment until mid-2011, which is likely to push up the already high level of structural unemployment.
    • Czech Republic
      Falling investment and recession in major export markets contributed to a sharp downturn at the beginning of this year. Real GDP turned slightly positive in the second quarter, largely due to a pick-up in exports and continued, albeit weak, consumption growth. A gradual recovery is projected for 2010 and 2011, driven by stronger investment and export demand, though weak consumption will act as a drag on growth. Inflation has been negative during part of 2009 but is expected to rise gradually to about 2% in 2011.
    • Denmark
      The Danish economy was hit hard, if belatedly, by the global economic crisis but is projected to recover gradually as world trade regains momentum and as support is provided by the large automatic stabilisers, substantial fiscal easing and low interest rates.
    • Finland
      Output continued to decline in Finland over the first half of the year, as the collapse in exports deepened. However, a recovery should get underway by the end of 2009 with a bounce in exports from the current very low levels and substantial restocking. Harmonised inflation has remained above the euro area average due to large negotiated wage increases. The unemployment rate has climbed sharply, and is expected to continue to rise, magnified by significant labour market rigidities.
    • Greece
      Real GDP contracted in 2009 as the effects of the global crisis gradually spread to the Greek economy. The recent improvement in the external environment should help activity to pick up slowly, and growth could gather momentum in 2011. The unemployment rate is set to reach a double-digit level over the projection period. The current account deficit is likely to remain high.
    • Hungary
      After a sizeable contraction in 2009, GDP growth should progressively resume in 2010, and gather pace in 2011, on the back of a strengthening foreign demand and easing credit conditions. Unless the upcoming election year repeats past electoral profligacy, planned fiscal austerity should curb domestic demand. The unemployment rate will peak at over 10% in 2010 before falling slightly. The significant output gap and the recent appreciation of the exchange rate have dampened inflationary pressures, which should not increase before the recovery gains momentum.
    • Iceland
      The recession into which the Icelandic economy fell following the failure of the country’s three main banks in October 2008 continues. Domestic demand has fallen sharply, and the economy is projected to continue shrinking until early 2010. Thereafter, growth is projected to return, boosted initially by the expected normalisation of financial conditions and subsequently by investment in large energy-related projects. The unemployment rate is likely to rise to around 7% by mid-2010 and edge down thereafter. The government programme will help to narrow economic imbalances, with inflation falling to about 2½ per cent by 2011 and the current account deficit declining to 1½ per cent of GDP in 2011.
    • Ireland
      The economy is experiencing a severe recession as large domestic imbalances correct, but there are recent signs that the pace of contraction is slowing. Ireland should benefit from the world trade upswing along with restored competitiveness as a result of the decline in wages and prices. The ongoing domestic adjustment will nevertheless be prolonged, and the economic recovery weak.
    • Korea
      Following the severe contraction in late 2008, Korea has achieved one of the earliest and strongest recoveries in the OECD area, led by exports and expansionary fiscal policy. While the impact of fiscal stimulus will fade in 2010, a sustained pick-up in exports is projected to help boost output growth to 4 to 4½ per cent in both 2010 and 2011, with a rebound in domestic demand and a marked fall in unemployment.
    • Luxembourg
      The economy has been hit severely by the international financial crisis through its exposure to financial services and trade. There are signs that activity has bottomed out, however, thanks to stronger equity markets and policy support. Further ahead, gradual recovery will be sustained by improving financial conditions and growth in world trade.
    • Mexico
      Mexico has suffered its most severe recession since the 1994 currency crisis. Real GDP fell by 9.7% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2009, reflecting lower oil prices and lower exports, the outbreak of influenza and declining tourism revenues and worker remittances. Supported by the rebound in oil prices and increasing exports to the United States, the fall in activity slowed down and activity is now starting to recover. As monetary and fiscal stimulus are gaining traction, the recession is projected to bottom out in the third quarter of 2009 and GDP growth should rise gradually in 2010.
    • Netherlands
      After a sharp recession, the economy looks set to grow again on the back of a recovery in world trade, fiscal stimulus and easier monetary conditions. However, growth will be too weak to prevent further increases in the unemployment rate, one of the lowest in the OECD, until the end of 2010.
    • New Zealand
      New Zealand is finally emerging from its five-quarter long recession, the beneficiary of strong domestic and global policy stimulus. But the recovery could be hampered by the overhang of high private sector indebtedness, ongoing credit contraction, the currency’s recent strength and rising unemployment.
    • Norway
      Economic recovery has already started in Norway, with the large fiscal and monetary stimulus boosting consumption and sustaining employment. The rebound in house prices is a sign that this stimulus is encouraging households to spend rather than to consolidate their balance sheets. Growth in private investment will resume next year, once consumption growth is well established and credit markets return to normal.
    • Poland
      Despite the deep OECD-wide recession, the Polish economy continued to grow in 2009 due to several factors, including: monetary easing; exchange rate depreciation; relatively limited dependence on international trade; a sound banking sector and unleveraged private sector; tax cuts and other fiscal measures; and infrastructure investments linked to EU transfers and the 2012 football championship. Activity is projected to pick up, mainly driven by fixed investment, but to remain well below potential rates for some time. While headline inflation was, until recently, above the official target, it is expected to diminish steadily as economic slack increases.
    • Portugal
      Growth resumed in the second quarter of 2009, but will remain subdued as private sector deleveraging constrains the recovery. As a result, unemployment is likely to increase to around 10% in 2010. The budget deficit is set to rise further in 2010 and 2011, following a substantial increase in 2009 due to the combined impact of the fiscal stimulus and the recession. Core inflation, after dropping to near zero, may increase rather slowly over the projection period.
    • Slovak Republic
      Economic activity rebounded in the second quarter after the sharp falls earlier on. Notwithstanding continued positive growth in the third quarter, annual GDP is expected to fall by close to 6% in 2009. Activity will gradually pick up in 2010 owing to a brighter outlook for world trade growth and a resumption of inflows of foreign direct investment, and growth should reach an annual rate of above 4% in 2011. The strong increase in unemployment is expected to gradually level off. With substantial slack in the economy, consumer price inflation is expected to remain fairly low.
    • Spain
      Output is projected to fall by 3½ per cent in 2009 and by a further ¼ per cent in 2010 before recovering at a slow rate in 2011. The unemployment rate is expected to peak close to 20% in 2010. Inflation may rise temporarily in 2010, reflecting higher oil prices and projected value added tax increases, but is expected to fall to close to zero in 2011.
    • Sweden
      The Swedish economy has experienced a deep contraction, triggered by the global economic crisis. A gradual recovery has started but economic slack is very large and unemployment will remain high for some time.
    • Switzerland
      Positive growth is projected to resume from the end of 2009 onward, driven by growing demand from trading partners and improving activity in financial markets. Unemployment may rise to about 5% while inflation is projected to be low but positive.
    • Turkey
      Output is on track for a record year-on-year decline in 2009 of 6½ per cent. However, four quarters of negative growth ended with a strong rebound in the second quarter of 2009. After recovering more moderately in the rest of the year, GDP is projected to expand by 3¾ per cent in 2010 and 4½ per cent in 2011.
    • Brazil
      GDP grew in the second quarter, following a decline in the previous two. Activity rebounded robustly on the back of resilient private consumption and an ongoing recovery in industrial production, which had contracted sharply in the previous months. Capacity utilisation is approaching pre-crisis levels in a number of manufacturing sectors. Investment has nevertheless yet to recover. Domestic demand is set to grow vigorously in the last quarter of 2009 and into 2010, supported by a still accommodative policy mix.
    • China
      Vigorous growth has resumed in China thanks to a very large monetary and fiscal stimulus. Momentum picked up in the second quarter and annual GDP growth is projected to exceed 8% in 2009 and 10% in 2010, before easing slightly in 2011 as the impact of the fiscal stimulus ends. The strong increase in domestic demand stemming from the stimulus has drawn in imports, while exports have been weak and may not recover to pre-crisis rates. As a result, the current account surplus is set to fall sharply to 5½ per cent of GDP by 2010 before rising somewhat in 2011, as domestic demand growth eases. Inflationary pressures are likely to remain subdued.
    • India
      The Indian economy has weathered the global downturn relatively well. After slowing sharply in late 2008, growth recovered during the first half of 2009 and recent high-frequency indicators suggest that momentum is strengthening. In the near term, the ongoing recovery will be only modestly hampered by poor monsoon rainfall. Growth is projected to reach over 7% in 2010 and 7½ per cent in 2011. Inflation has been rising since mid-2009 and is expected to remain high over the projection period.
    • Russian Federation
      After an initial sharp rebound from the deep recession of the past year, real GDP is projected to converge on potential. The decline in inflation seen since early 2009 is expected to continue into 2010 before flattening out. The current account surplus will increase in 2010 as a result of terms of trade gains, but it will decline in 2011 as strong trend import growth reasserts itself. Net private capital flows should strengthen, allowing a rebuilding of reserves.
    • Chile
      As a small open economy with a strong dependence on mining and agricultural exports, Chile has been hit hard by the collapse in world trade and commodity prices. Output has fallen sharply and annual average growth is projected to be negative in 2009. However, a good part of the earlier fall in copper prices through end 2008 has been reversed since and activity bottomed out towards mid-year with support from a substantial macroeconomic stimulus. Growth is set to accelerate gradually through 2010 to reach rates above potential in 2011.
    • Estonia
      Real GDP is projected to fall by 14.4% this year, to broadly stabilise in 2010 and to recover in 2011, when growth of 3.9% is expected. This projection depends largely on developments in major export markets, on the speed with which resources are reallocated toward expanding export activities and on the country’s ability to attract renewed foreign direct investment inflows to the export sector as the recovery takes hold.
    • Indonesia
      GDP growth picked up significantly in the second and third quarters of 2009. Private consumption was the main driver. Investment rebounded strongly in the third quarter, but it continues to suffer from a dearth of credit. Exports are growing faster than imports, sustaining the trade and external current account surpluses. Inflation fell rapidly in the first semester. Activity is projected to gather some further impetus, buoyed by rising investment and easing credit conditions.
    • Israel
      Positive growth in the second quarter of 2009, albeit slight, has marked the start of recovery. Economic activity is expected to pick up throughout the projection period. Underlying inflationary pressures are likely to remain muted, but the risks are on the upside.
    • Slovenia
      Although Slovenia moved out of recession already in the second quarter of 2009, the precipitous decline in the previous two quarters was severe enough to give a year-on-year output fall in 2009 of close to 8%. A mild rebound has been occurring and is expected to continue through 2010, driven by external demand, before growth strengthens further in 2011 on the back of stronger investment. Inflation should remain moderate due to the negative output gap and high unemployment.
    • South Africa
      Real GDP growth will be negative in 2009, but should turn positive in the fourth quarter and accelerate in the first half of 2010, boosted by the soccer World Cup. Inflation should return to the target range in 2010 aided by a substantial output gap and the feed through of past rand appreciation. The current account deficit will narrow this year but should widen thereafter as imports outpace exports.
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  • Special chapters in recent issues of OECD Economic Outlook
  • Statistical Annex
    This annex contains data on some main economic series which are intended to provide a background to the recent economic developments in the OECD area described in the main body of this report. Data for 2009 to 2011 are OECD estimates and projections. The data on some of the tables have been adjusted to internationally agreed concepts and definitions in order to make them more comparable as between countries, as well as consistent with historical data shown in other OECD publications. Regional totals and sub-totals are based on those countries in the table for which data are shown. Aggregate measures contained in the Annex, except the series for the euro area (see below), are computed on the basis of 2005 GDP weights expressed in 2005 purchasing power parities (see following page for weights). Aggregate measures for external trade and payments statistics, on the other hand, are based on current year exchange rates for values and base-year exchange rates for volumes.
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