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Grant Thornton International Business Report $ Businesses resilient in face of growth challenges Ed Nusbaum considers the global economic outlook for 2016 NET 38% OF EU BUSINESSES OPTIMISTIC ABOUT ECONOMY
Grant Thornton International Business Report $ Businesses resilient in face of growth challenges Ed Nusbaum considers the global economic outlook for 2016 NET 38% OF EU BUSINESSES OPTIMISTIC ABOUT ECONOMY At the beginning of a new year, I m often asked what the number one issue for businesses is over the next 12 months. And while I don t have a crystal ball, this question seems particularly difficult to answer this year. There are numerous economic factors which present both opportunities and risks to businesses. The US has recently increased its interest rate. Oil prices ended 2015 at $37 a barrel compared to $56 12 months ago, and the price of oil is expected to remain low with the lifting of Iranian sanctions. The re-balancing of the Chinese economy presents opportunities, but weaker demand for commodities and raw materials will impact export based economies in Yet businesses remain resilient in the face of these moving parts; global optimism has held relatively firm and plans to invest for future growth continue. Despite the numerous challenges facing the EU, net 38% of EU businesses surveyed in our global quarterly survey 2 The global economy in 2016 are optimistic about their national economies over the next 12 months, exactly the same as in Q3 and Q1 of last year. The survey results show broad based confidence across the continent as businesses shrug off the threats of deflation, terrorism and possible British and Greek exits. Furthermore, an increase in expected R&D investment over previous quarters demonstrates that EU business are looking past recent stock market volatility and instead opting to take a long term view. Also in the US, the Federal Reserve s confidence in the US economy led to the first interest rate hike in nearly a decade in December and it signalled more hikes to come in However, our research found that US business optimism fell by 24% points heading into 2016, the biggest fall of any of the 36 countries surveyed. Our International Business Report data shows a drop in US export expectations for 2016 as the culprit, fuelled by a strengthening dollar and the shift in the Fed s stance on interest rates. Coming changes in leadership also create some uncertainty with a new president come the end of I would argue that the word change also encapsulates what we are seeing in China. Businesses around the world suffered a dent to confidence in 2015 following uncertainty around the speed and the extent of China s economic slowdown. That has subsided somewhat. Optimism across the Asia Pacific region has actually increased to 31% in Q4, compared to 27% recorded twelve months ago. However, in early January, we saw sharp falls in the Chinese stock market as concerns about the speed of the economic slowdown there remain. They are a reminder that the rebalancing of the Chinese economy, in particular a depressed demand for raw materials compared to recent years, will create challenges. But dynamic businesses will spot new opportunities as the demand for service-led offerings in China grows along with its burgeoning middle class. Drawing on data and insight from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, this report considers the outlook for the global economy in Does burgeoning also describe the outlook for businesses in Japan? Many are asking if 2016 could be the year when Abenomics starts to bear fruit. Stripped of energy prices, inflation is now at roughly 1%, heading towards its 2% target, and recent figures suggest public debt has stopped rising. While business leaders in Japan are more optimistic about 2016 than they were about 2015, many still remain cautious perhaps remembering previous upticks in the economy which quickly subsided. Another region used to economic peaks and troughs is Latin America. My conversations with clients and industry leaders there often involves talk of political and social change and while the economic picture across the continent remains fragile, we see further evidence of business resilience. Optimism reached its highest point in 12 months at the end of 2015, largely driven by the appointment of a new president in Argentina. In Brazil, optimism is weaker but as with the rest of Latin America, there is a feeling that the US will present a healthy market into which they can sell commodities and other goods. I should also mention the Rio Olympics. Our survey has shown over the years that major sporting events can provide short term boosts to an economy and Brazil s healthy revenue expectations for 2016 further reflect this trend. The global economy continues to evolve. For business leaders, these shifting landscapes present new challenges but for the most dynamic firms they also offer exciting new opportunities. I think that part of business leaders instinct for growth is to look beyond the uncertainty and spot emerging pockets of opportunity to build new trade links and ensure your growth plans reap rewards. As businesses look to 2016 and beyond, I m reassured that the global economy offers great opportunity for those dynamic firms who continue to push boundaries and remain optimistic about the challenges ahead. Ed Nusbaum Global CEO Grant Thornton Contents p.4 Economic growth p.6 Business growth p.10 Business growth constraints p.12 Employment p.14 Inflation p.15 How Grant Thornton can help p.16 Methodology The global economy in Economic growth The IMF has lowered its 2016 global growth forecast to 3.6% (from 3.8% in July 2015) with managing director, Christine Lagarde, warning that any increase in output this year will be disappointing and uneven. The fund has also revised down its world trade growth projection for this year from 4.4% in July 2015 to 4.1%. Looking to 2016, the US Federal Reserve has signalled its confidence in the country s economic recovery with its first interest rate rise in 114 months. Whilst the move was initially welcomed by global markets, the accompanying strength of the US dollar is a concern for the country s exporters. The rate rise will also not be welcome among emerging markets which hold substantial quantities of dollar-denominated debt. The re -balancing of China s economy to being more service-led continues to shape the global economic outlook. The manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for China stood at 49.7 in December 2015, after contracting for the fifth consecutive month, while the non-manufacturing PMI rose to 54.4 from 53.6 in November. Growth in China is forecast to be 6.3% this year, 0.5% slower than in 2015, though the impact of changes taking place in the world s second largest economy are having a limited impact on forecasts for the Asia region (5.4%) and ASEAN-5 (4.9%). Forecast growth for the Eurozone (1.6%) is almost unchanged from 2015, with the German (1.6%), French (1.5%) and Italian (1.3%) economies all forecast to grow more quickly this year than last. Elsewhere, the contraction of Greece s economy is set to slow to -1.3% compared with a predicted -2.3% in Consumer prices across the Eurozone are expected to rise 1% in 2016, still falling short of the region s 2% inflation target, despite record-low base rates and the European Central Bank s expansive quantitative easing programme. In South America, falling commodity prices and currency depreciation is expected to have a substantial impact on output and inflation, with consumer prices likely to increase 15% this year. Argentina (-0.7%) is expected to contract despite a boost to business confidence following the start of Mauricio Macri s presidency. Brazil s recession is forecast to continue (-1%) as the region s largest economy struggles with the falling value of the Real, down against the dollar in the year to December 2015, and high levels of unemployment, expected to rise to 8.6% in 2016 compared with 6.6% for The impact of instability in the MENA, Afghanistan and Pakistan region is forecast to have a limited impact on growth, predicted to be 3.9% in 2016 compared to 2.5% last year. That said, growth is expected to slow in a number of major oil exporting nations, including Saudi Arabia (2.2% down from 3.4% last year) where the current account deficit is set to increase to 4.7% of GDP. Meanwhile in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), major oil exporters appear to be suffering less and are forecast to grow by 4.1% this year compared to 3.5% in Outlook for the SSA region as a whole is relatively strong (4.3%), though growth is forecast to slow in some low-income countries including Ethiopia (down from 8.7% in 2015 to 8.1%) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (down from 8.4% in 2015 to 7.3%). Growth is set to return for the Commonwealth of Independent States (0.5%) in 2016 following a fall in output last year. Russia s economy is set to contract by -0.6% as it struggles with falling commodity prices and trade embargoes. 3.6% FORECAST GLOBAL GROWTH IN The global economy in 2016 Forecast real GDP growth rates (%) Euro area * European Union Eastern Europe Commonwealth of Independent States North America Advanced Asia Pacific Middle East and North Africa Developing Asia Pacific Sub-Saharan Africa -0.3 Latin America and the Caribbean Source: IMF 2015 * North America is a weighted average of the United States and Canada The global economy in Business growth Looking ahead to 2016, our International Business Report (IBR) finds net global business optimism stands at 36%, a 1pp uplift on this time last year. Surprisingly, EU businesses (38%) are the bedrock of stability. Despite concerns about the migrant crisis, terrorism and potential Brexit, firms across the region have maintained similar levels of confidence for the coming 12 months throughout Meanwhile in the US, December s interest rate rise has added to concerns among business leaders who reported a sharp 24pp quarterly drop in economic optimism for the year ahead. Businesses in developed nations are feeling the most confident about their country s economic prospects, with Ireland (88%), the United Kingdom (73%), Netherlands (68%), the US (50%), Spain (49%) and Australia (46%) all reporting high levels of optimism. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table, commodity-intense economies Brazil (-12%), Malaysia (-14%) and South Africa (-24%) have been impacted by falling selling prices for their exports. In North America, the sharp quarterly fall in business optimism in the US at the end of 2015 to 50% has stemmed from concerns among exporters about the strength of the dollar, which have been compounded by the Federal Reserve s rate rise. Businesses in Canada have also reported a substantial drop in confidence looking ahead to 2016 compared to last year (18% down 35pp), driven by concerns about falling commodity prices. 6 The global economy in 2016 Across Asia Pacific the outlook is remarkably positive considering the economic slowdown in China and resulting market volatility across the nation. Confidence within the region looking ahead to the coming 12 months is up 4pp to 31% compared to this time last year. Some major economies in the region including Australia (46%), China (36%) and Indonesia (56%) have reported substantial quarterly uplifts in optimism. However, in Japan (-11%), Prime Minister Abe s three arrows of fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms are yet to translate into an uplift in business confidence across the country. Net percentage of businesses optimistic for the economic outlook (global) 50% 40% 20% 10% Net percentage of businesses optimistic for the economic outlook (top and bottom ten) 89% India Q Q Q Q Q % 84% 80% 80% 74% 73% 68% 68% 56% Ireland Philippines Botswana New Zealand Nigeria UK Argentina Netherlands Indonesia Finland lithuania Latvia Estonia Japan Brazil Malaysia Singapore South Africa 0% 0% -6% -10% -11% -12% -14% -16% -24% Greece -50% Sales and profits Global revenue expectations (44%) for 2016 are slightly up compared to this time last year. Whilst the worldwide outlook is promising, optimism is not evenly shared. Companies in India (92%), Nigeria (86%), Ireland (74%), Mexico (74%), Argentina (72%) and Turkey (72%) are the most confident about increased revenues for the coming year. Mexico is benefitting from a relatively less commodity-intense economy than its Latin American peers, while businesses in Argentina have welcomed Mauricio Macri s presidency and firms in Turkey appear unconcerned about the impact of the migrant crisis and neighbouring instability. Countries reporting low revenue expectations include France (11%), Russia (8%) and China (21%), with the latter two nations facing poor export prospects and limited domestic demand. Across emerging markets, revenue expectations for 2016 are divided. The balance of MINT countries expecting an increase stands at 74%, up 17pp compared to this time last year, while BRIC optimism is at 33%, down 14pp. Global profitability expectations (33%) for the coming 12 months are in-line with last year. The UK (63%), Netherlands (62%), Indonesia (66%) and Nigeria (68%) are among the most positive about profitability outlook, while sharp falls in expectations have been reported in Russia (-4%, down 27pp) and Mexico (6%, down 46pp) compared to NET44% OF BUSINESS LEADERS EXPECT TO INCREASE REVENUES IN 2016 Net percentage of businesses expecting to increase profits (selected economies) 76% 70% 68% 66% 63% 49% 12% -4% -4% -4% -6% -18% India Botswana Nigeria Indonesia UK US Mainland Lithuania China Armenia France Argentina Japan Net percentage of businesses expecting to increase revenues/profits (global) Revenues Profits Q Q Q Q Q Q % The global economy in Exports Looking ahead to 2016, businesses worldwide are reporting low export expectations. Net 15% of companies worldwide are looking to increase exports over the coming 12 months, the lowest quarterly figure since The Federal Reserve interest rate rise and resulting strengthening of the dollar has hurt export sentiment in the US, where net 11% of companies are expecting to increase exports over the next year. The issue is likely to be compounded by the falling value of currencies across major US export markets such as Mexico, Japan and Brazil. The EU (26%) has maintained a relatively high level of increased export expectations throughout Notably, the balance of firms expecting to increase exports over the coming year in the UK (23%) saw a substantial 11pp quarterly uplift at the end of 2015 despite the prospect of a referendum on membership of its primary export market, the EU. Firms in both Asia Pacific (11%) and Latin America (7%) are reporting low export expectations, likely due to falling commodity prices and slowing demand for raw materials from China. Net percentage of businesses expecting to increase exports (next 12 months; top ten) 38% 36% 34% 50% 46% Australia Netherlands Estonia Turkey Greece 23% OF UK FIRMS EXPECT TO INCREA SE EXPORTS IN % 2% Georgia Japan 0% -4% 32% -28% Argentina Armenia Mexico 8 The global economy in 2016 Innovation and investment Worldwide expectation of an increase in infrastructure and R&D investment has fallen this year compared to last, with emerging market sentiment weighing on forecasts. Looking ahead to 2016, global business expectations for increased investment have fallen from this time last year across the fields of research and development (R&D) (22%, down 8pp), new buildings (17%, down 5pp) and plant & machinery (, down 5pp). Businesses in Nigeria (68%), Lithuania (62%), Spain (59%), Ireland (57%) and the United Kingdom (53%) are most expectant of an increase in plant and machinery spend for The global fall over the last year (35% to ) is largely due to low expectations across emerging regions. Emerging APAC (20%, down 8pp), Eastern Europe (26%, down 7pp) and Latin America (18%, down 27pp) have all reported falls in expectation for the coming 12 months. The outlook is more promising in Africa, where expectation of an increase is up this year to 59% compared to 39% for the same period last year. Emerging regions are also weighing on global research and development expectations (R&D), with Emerging APAC (27%, down 7pp), Eastern Europe (16%, down 4pp) and Latin America (25%, down 8pp) all reporting falls in investment plans. Investment intention across the EU is increasing but has fallen sharply in North America (16%, down 19pp). The outlook is better in Africa (58% up 30pp) and the MINT countries (37%, up 7pp). Expecting R&D investment in North America is down 19pp to 16% Global expectation of an increase in investment in new buildings for the coming 12 months fell slightly to 19%. Only businesses in the Baltic region (19%) and within the MINT countries (19%) have reported an uplift in expectation from a year ago, up by 9pp and 2pp respectively. Intention to invest is highest among businesses in the Philippines (50%), India (49%) and Nigeria (42%) while in more developed economies such as Germany (3%), France (3%) and Canada (8%) expectations are much lower. Net percentage of businesses planning to increase investment (next 12 months; global) Plant and machinery 39% % New buildings Net percentage of businesses planning to increase investment (next 12 months; top five) Plant and machinery Nigeria Lithuania Spain Ireland UK 13% 2% 31% 15% 53% 34% 18% 34% 18% 35% 20% New buildings 35% 20% 19% 68% Philippines 50% 62% 59% 57% India Nigeria Indonesia Botswana 34% 32% 42% 49% The global economy in Business growth constraints Economic uncertainty is set to be the biggest concern for global businesses in 2016, with red tape and a lack of skilled workers also weighing on the minds of business leaders. Within the context of slowing international trade and rising geopolitical tensions, there has been a 3pp global increase in the balance of companies citing economic uncertainty as a major constraint to growth (38%). Businesses in major emerging and developed economies including Brazil (73%), India (71%), Japan (64%), Russia (57%) and France (54%) are among the countries most concerned about the impact of economic uncertainty could have on their ability to grow. 55% of Latin America companies view currency values as a growth constraint. Despite an oversupply of oil and steel, as well as reduced demand for commodities, the balance of businesses concerned about a shortage of orders remains unchanged at. The balance of companies in the mining and quarrying (28%, up 6pp), manufacturing (38%, up 2pp) and agriculture and forestry (32%, up 5pp) sectors citing a shortage of orders as a major constraint to growth has risen. 10 The global economy in 2016 Latin America (31%, up 8pp) and Emerging Asia Pacific (43%, up 4pp) are among the regions where concern is highest. Global businesses are slightly less concerned about regulation and red tape down 3pp from last year at 29%. However, these regulatory concerns impacting growth remain high in Greece (66%), Italy (52%), France (51%) and Spain (38%) are among the most concerned about regulation. Following Greece s decision to stay in the Eurozone, the debate about European ties has now shifted to the UK (23%) ahead of its upcoming EU referendum. Currency values are less of a concern to global businesses (27%), although the balance citing fluctuating exchange rates as a major constraint to growth has risen 3pp compared to this time last year. Businesses in Africa (69%), Eastern Europe (57%) and Latin America (55%) are the most concerned. Regions using strong currencies like the Eurozone (14%) and North America (13%) are far less concerned, though the US (11%) Proportion of businesses citing shortage of orders/reduced demand as a constraint on growth (global) 50% 40% 20% Low demand Regulations/red tape Lack of skilled workers has reported a 5pp rise in the balance of business citing exchange rate fluctuations as a concern. As low interest rates and quantitative easing programmes keep levels of funding high across most regions, fears that a lack of finance wil
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