Among the shocks, steady global growth is the biggest surprise

Fri Dec 9, 2016 11:28am EST
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By Jamie McGeever and Vikram Subhedar

LONDON (Reuters) - In a year of political shocks, the unexpected strength of the global economy going into 2017 may be the most enduring surprise for financial markets.

Despite all the electoral upsets - Donald Trump's U.S. presidential victory plus referendums in Britain and Italy that have pushed both countries into deep uncertainty - economic data are consistently beating forecasts.

Activity seems resistant to the surprises that once might have provoked major market drops, helped by huge sums that many central banks are still pumping into the financial system - and the prospect of government largesse in the United States where the Federal Reserve is reducing its stimulus.

The consensus among forecasters had been too gloomy well before Trump's election last month electrified markets with the promise of fiscal stimulus via tax cuts and infrastructure spending.

But it's not just soundings from the United States that have been underestimated amid the political noise, leading Edinburgh-based Standard Life Investments to refer this week to the "quiet strength" of the world economy.

A range of Economic Surprise Indices compiled by Citi have all turned positive this week for the first time since February 2014 - almost three years ago. And a dive into the data shows how widespread the resilience has been.

This is only the 16th time since comparable records began in 2003 that all eight indices - U.S., euro zone, Asia Pacific, Japan, UK, emerging markets, China and G10 nations - have been in positive territory. The euro zone reading is the highest since October 2010.


A supporter of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump holds a sign at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton