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31.01.2014 15:45 Japan inflation quickens to over five-year high, output rebounds

Japan`s core consumer inflation rose at the fastest pace in more than five years in December and the job market improved, encouraging signs for the Bank of Japan as it seeks to vanquish deflation with aggressive money printing. Factory output also grew in December and manufacturers expect to keep increasing production, although some analysts fret about potential damage from the recent turmoil in emerging markets. Core consumer prices (CPI), which excludes fresh food but include energy costs, rose 1.3 percent in December from a year ago, data showed on Friday, just above a median market forecast for a 1.2 percent gain. That followed a 1.2 percent increase in November, and marked the fastest annual gain since 1.9 percent in October 2008, data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications showed. Last year, Japan`s core consumer prices rose 0.4 percent, the first increase in five years. Japan`s industrial output rose 1.1 percent in December, suggesting that robust domestic demand is underpinning the economy as consumers rush to beat a national sales tax hike in April. This is making up for soft exports to emerging markets. The rise roughly matched a median market forecast of a 1.2 percent increase, and followed a 0.1 percent drop in November. Manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry expect output to rise 6.1 percent in January and increase 0.3 percent in February, data showed.

30.01.2014 19:31 U.S. GDP Advances 3.2% in 4th Quarter of 2013

The U.S. economy expanded at a steady clip in the fourth quarter as consumers opened their wallets and businesses picked up investment, marking one of the best six-month periods of growth in a decade. Gross domestic product, which is the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.2% in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected fourth-quarter activity to grow by 3.2%. Across 2013, the economy expanded at a 1.9% pace. The last time the economy expanded by at least 3% annually was before the recession, when it reached a 3.4% pace in 2005. In 2012, GDP grew at a 2.8% rate. Healthy spending by consumers and businesses and stronger exports helped drive fourth-quarter growth and offset declines from the government and residential sectors. Imports, which subtract from GDP, increased. The latest GDP figures show the economy expanded at a 3.7% pace in the second half of 2013, which was sharply higher than the 1.8% pace in the first half of the year. That marked the strongest second-half growth since 2003, when the economy expanded at a 5.8% pace.

30.01.2014 15:00 IMF Raises Outlook for Global and US Economies

The International Monetary Fund is slightly more optimistic about the global and U.S. economies this year than it was three months ago. In an updated outlook, the global lending organization forecasts that the world economy will grow 3.7 percent in 2014 and that the U.S. economy will grow 2.8 percent. The global forecast is 0.1 percentage point higher and the U.S. forecast 0.2 point higher than the IMF`s October forecast. By 2015, the IMF forecast the U.S. economy will grow 3 percent, or 0.4 percentage point lower than its October forecast. The IMF reduced its outlook because a recent budget agreement left in place most of the spending cuts. The IMF had expected most of those cuts to have been eliminated by next year. For the countries in Europe using the common euro currency, the IMF forecasts stronger growth. The region is emerging from recession after a lingering debt crisis. This year the IMF projects 1 percent growth and 1.4 percent in 2015. Germany, the biggest economy in Europe, will grow 1.6 percent this year it projects, up from 0.5 percent growth in 2013. China is expected to grow 7.5 percent in 2014 and 7.3 percent in 2015. Both 2014 and 2015 projections were slightly higher than the IMF`s October forecast, but lower than the 7.7 percent growth reported for 2013. For Japan, the IMF forecast growth of 1.7 percent this year, the same as 2013, but a slowdown to 1 percent growth in 2015.

29.01.2014 17:29 UK GDP: British economy growing at fastest rate since 2007

Full year growth in 2013 was the strongest in six years, but the pace of the recovery slowed in the final quarter, the Office for National Statistics has reported. GDP grew by 0.7 per cent in the final three months of 2013, a touch down on the 0.8 per cent recorded in the third quarter. That leaves the economy still 1.3 per cent below the level of output achieved in the first quarter of 2008, while the US and Germany have already long surpassed their pre-financial crisis output peaks. Fourth quarter growth was also lower than implied by various industry surveys, which suggested an expansion of over 1 per cent in the three month period. However, the ONS said GDP grew by 1.9 per cent over the full year, marking the best performance since 2007, when the economy put on 3.4 per cent. And the consensus from forecasters is that the recovery will continue to strengthen in 2014. The figures were exactly in line with the expectations of City analysts, but some suggested that the moderation in the recovery would help the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, in his quest to keep interest rates on hold, despite unexpectedly rapid falls in unemployment.

29.01.2014 14:07 Russian GDP grew 1.4 percent in 2013

The initial estimate for Russia`s GDP growth in 2013 - 1.4% - corresponds to the Economic Development Ministry`s final forecast. "The pace of economic growth last year can not under any circumstance be considered satisfactory: 1.4%," Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said during the government hour in the Federation Council on Wednesday. Economic growth last year was held back due to a number of factors, both external (recessions in countries that are Russia`s trading partners) and domestic factors (low level of investment), Ulyukayev said. In December, the Economic Development Ministry said GDP growth in 2013 would equal 1.4%. However, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach said in January that based on data from Rosstat the full-year result might be lower: 1.3%. However, after Rosstat reported better-than-expected data on industrial production in 2013, up 0.3%, Ulyukayev said GDP growth in 2013 most likely totaled 1.4%.

28.01.2014 19:31 World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014: global economy is improving but remains vulnerable

The global economy is expected to grow at a pace of 3.0 per cent in 2014 and 3.3 per cent in 2015, compared with an estimated growth of 2.1 per cent for 2013, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014 (WESP) report, launched on 20 January 2014. The world economy experienced again subdued growth in 2013, but some improvements in the last quarter have led to the UN`s more positive forecast. The euro area has finally ended a protracted recession. Growth in the United States strengthened somewhat. A few large emerging economies, including China and India, managed to backstop the deceleration they experienced in the past two years and veered upwards moderately. Developing countries as a whole will benefit from resilient domestic demand and an improvement in global conditions. These factors point to increasing global growth. However, the WESP stresses that the employment situation will continue to be challenging and warns that international capital flows to emerging economies are expected to become more volatile, in particular in the case of a bumpy exit from the quantitative easing programmes by the U.S Federal Reserve. Other main uncertainties and risks include the remaining fragility in the banking system and the real economy in the euro area. Beyond the economic domain, geopolitical tensions in Western Asia and elsewhere remain serious risks. These and other risk factors, unfolding unexpectedly, could derail the world economy far beyond the report`s projections.

26.01.2014 14:34 Will China Overtake US Economic GDP World Leadership by 2028?

The headline story, framed by London`s Center for Economic and Business Research has China overtaking the U.S. as the world`s leading generator of gross domestic product within 14 years. This has taken into account an annual U.S. GDP increase of barely reaching 3%, while China, despite increasing problems in agricultural to industrial conversion, will manage a doubling of the U.S. rate during that time period. When delving into the broader projections of the CEBR report, it indicates a further weakening of the European economy as a whole. It posits a slower-growth Germany and France, who would do much better if the European Community broke up, an event that CEBR and other knowledgeable analyst don`t expect. Other items of interest are an optimistic outlook for the United Kingdom, which is expected to leapfrog both Germany and current Eucom`s No. 2 France by 2028. But CEBR is especially high on India and its booming technological advances, expecting it to overtake Japan in the world`s No. 3 slot by the 2028 mark. The London-based international economic forecaster also expects Brazil to combine its natural resource potential, geographic size, and population exceeding 200 million to be the first previously underdeveloped global nation to join the world`s top five producers of goods and services by 2030. Although CEBR`s projections of shifting world standings are built on sound futuristic developments, it`s very likely that current leaders U.S., China, Germany, France and the U.K. will hold their own in the immediate term, while Brazil and India have the likeliest possibility of developing into world-class leadership positions during the following 2020-2030 decade.

24.01.2014 15:55 Ruble Drops to Five-Year Low

The Russian ruble dropped to a five-year low on January 24th and both officials and market players expect its depreciation to continue. Versus the euro-dollar basket, the central bank`s main barometer of the currency market, the ruble slipped to 40, a level last seen in February 2009, during a financial crisis that was accompanied by so-called controlled devaluation, when the central bank was intervening heavily to avoid a rapid drop in the ruble rate. The ruble has shed more than 3% versus the basket so far this year after weakening by nearly 10% in 2013. The ruble came under pressure in the middle of last year amid expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve would taper its stimulus efforts, while slowing economic growth and heavy capital flight hit the currency domestically. Seasonally higher gas exports and the Winter Olympics were widely expected to help the ruble to recover early this year but that hasn`t materialized yet. Economy Ministry Alexei Ulyukayev said that the ruble now has more chance to ease than strengthen because of the deteriorating current-account surplus.

20.01.2014 21:46 Medvedev said Russia needs to boost small businesses in 2014

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told investors that Russia, as the world`s ninth-largest economy, faces an array of critical masses to spur growth this year after a set of disappointing figures in 2013, a year of broken illusions for Russia. GDP added just 1.3 percent, while most analysts expected an average growth of 4 percent. Medvedev said 21.5 billion rubles ($640 million) in government subsidies were doled out in support of small- and medium-sized businesses in 2013, and it will be more in 2014. Small businesses contributed 20 percent to Russia`s GDP in 2013, and Medvedev predicts it will continue to be a force in boosting economic growth in Russia. The goal is to increase the contribution to 50 percent by 2020, to mirror Europe`s small business economic model, which is currently at about 50 percent. On paper the plan is good, but implementation hasn`t been stellar. Statistics show four million small businessmen were registered at the beginning of 2013, and by the end, this number had dropped close to 3.5 million. Stagflation, ineffective state-owned companies, a dip in oil prices, capital flight, and weak investment all pose direct threats to the Russian economy in 2014.

18.01.2014 20:43 OECD Report on Russia Specifies Ills and Antidotes

Russia needs to address its poor business climate and improve education to reverse an economic slowdown that is being compounded by its structural problems, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, said. The OECD said Russia`s economic downturn was primarily the result of a slide in its growth potential, in addition to the end of the period of fiscal expansion that preceded President Vladimir Putin`s election to a third Kremlin term in 2012. The OECD report said recent signs of a crackdown against corruption by the authorities appeared to be genuine, and welcomed signs that companies are less concerned about the efficiency of the court system than in the past. But it was concerned that Russia`s record on press freedom was not improving - noting Russia ranks 148th out of 179 countries, according to a press freedom index published by Reporters Without Borders. The OECD criticized recent restrictions on public assembly and nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, as negative for transparency and accountability. Corporate governance is also a key problem, the report said, leading to low company valuations and reduced revenues from privatization. It recommended requiring state-owned companies to comply with tough stock exchange listing requirements. The OECD also criticized Russia for the prominent role played by state companies in the economy, calling for it to push ahead with privatization of state companies and banks that dwarf their private-sector competitors. It adding that an ambitious plan for the government to sell its holdings in all sectors except natural monopolies, oil and defense, was significantly scaled back last year.


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