In the face of high interest rates, global GDP growth is likely to slow to 2.9% this year and stay lackluster in 2024.
Midway through 2023, the global economy is confronting a host of unusual occurrences. U.S. unemployment sits at its lowest point since 1968 and core inflation is higher than it was in 1983. The Federal Reserve and European Central Bank have raised rates at their fastest pace in 40 years and 30 years respectively, and, along with the Bank of Japan, are set to trim their balance sheets at a record pace.
As central banks continue their campaigns to slow inflation, both the U.S. and Europe are likely to avoid recessions, but Morgan Stanley Research economists believe global GDP growth will slow to 2.9% in 2023. That is down from 3.5% in 2022, albeit better than the 2.2% growth economists predicted late last year.
The year ahead does have some bright spots. “Overall, we continue to forecast outperformance in emerging markets, particularly in Asia,” says Seth Carpenter, Morgan Stanley’s Global Chief Economist.
Notably, China’s reopening and recovery could nearly double its GDP growth to 5.7% in 2023, supporting regional strength on a cyclical basis. In the medium term, trends such as digitalization continue to support India’s economy, which is slated to grow 6.5% this year.
Here are some of the biggest themes expected to shape regional economies and a look at where investors might find opportunity in the second half of this year and beyond.
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For the past year, Morgan Stanley economists have maintained that the U.S. economy is heading for a moderate economic slowdown rather than a full-blown recession.
“We continue to look for a soft landing this year, but that depends on how much tighter credit conditions for households and businesses weigh on economic activity,” says Ellen Zentner, Chief U.S. Economist. She notes that job gains could slow, lifting U.S. unemployment to 4% by the end of 2023 and 4.4% by the end of 2024.
Zentner expects the Fed to hold its policy rate at 5.1% before starting quarterly cuts of 0.25% in early 2024. Funding pressures in the banking system are a new development for 2023 and Morgan Stanley’s U.S. outlook now points to 1.2% GDP annual growth for 2023 and 0.8% in 2024.
Inflation in the euro area has been on its way down after peaking at an annualized rate of 10.6% in October 2022, with prices for energy, goods and food receding. “We expect headline inflation to be 5.4% for in 2023 and 2.3%in 2024,” says Chief Europe Economist Jens Eisenschmidt. “However, we think that it will take time to get back to the ECB’s target of 2% and we might not be there by the end of 2024.”
Another relative positive in Europe is that the employment should stay stable while wages, which haven’t kept pace with inflation, are accelerating and should continue to do so until mid-2023. The combination of declining inflation and rising wages means workers should start to see their purchasing power increase later this year and into 2024.
“This provides more positive backdrop for private consumption, which accounts for around 50% of GDP in the euro area,” Eisenschmidt notes. “That said, weakness in exports and investment may get in the way of more meaningful GDP growth as the impact of tighter monetary policy increasingly affects the euro area economy.” The upshot: 0.7% GDP growth in 2023 and 1% growth in 2023.
The strength and significance of China’s recovery has been closely scrutinized and debated. Morgan Stanley’s economists expect a positive story for the world’s second-largest economy, with growth of 5.7% in 2023 and 4.9% in 2024.
“The initial reopening surge early this year came from a bounce in sectors hit by COVID, pent-up housing demand and a backlog of export orders,” says Chief China Economist Robin Xing. “We expect growth reacceleration in the second half of this year after a hiccup in the second quarter, thanks to renewed stimulus and new employment in services bolstering private consumption.”
At first glance, 1.1% GDP growth for 2023 and 2024 may not seem noteworthy. Yet, for Japan, this outlook speaks to strong nominal growth.
“This would be a momentous change for Japan, where nominal growth has been basically in a flat range for a long period,” says Chief Japan Economist Takeshi Yamaguchi. “It implies simultaneous growth for employee compensation and corporate earnings, a large increase in tax revenue and potentially positive effects on asset prices.”
Yamaguchi expects continued strength in private consumption and corporate spending. “Exports are exposed to the overseas economic slowdown ahead, but we expect the yen to stay at relatively weak levels, which differs from past periods, to support the earnings of exporters,” he adds.
For more Morgan Stanley Research insights and analysis on the Global Macro Economy, ask your Morgan Stanley representative or Financial Advisor for the full report, " The Sun Rises in the East" (June 4, 2023). Morgan Stanley Research clients can access the report directly here. Plus more Ideas from Morgan Stanley’s thought leaders.