Global Economy Watch

PwC's Macroeconomics team presents Global Economy Watch, a short publication that looks at the trends and issues that are affecting the global economy and details our latest economic projections for the world's leading economies.

In our previous edition of Global Economy Watch, which included our predictions for the world economy in 2019, we suggested that around 40 countries would see their labour forces shrink this year, owing to a combination of low birth rates and ageing populations. Interestingly, the country most closely associated with unfavourable demographics– Japan–was not among them. At present, the Japanese labour market is pulling off a neat trick. Although both the whole population and the working-age population are declining every year, the number of Japanese in the workforce is growing, and expanding at a rate that outperforms many other younger and more vibrant advanced economies. We explain how this is happening and assess whether it is sustainable in our feature article. 

We also consider what the weakening global economy means for the central banks of the three largest advanced economies. Barring a major, immediate adjustment to monetary policy, the Federal Reserve’s shrinking of its balance sheet, combined with the end of quantitative easing by the European Central Bank, means that these central banks will begin to drain liquidity from the global economy for the first time since the global financial crisis by the middle of this year. The combination of de facto monetary policy tightening at the same time as global growth continues to slow could generate some volatility in financial markets during 2019. We note that the Fed is still determining the level of assets it wishes to hold and expect it to end the process with a significantly larger balance sheet than it held before the financial crisis. 

Finally, we continue to watch the effects of the trade conflict between the US and China. Not for the first time, hopes have been raised at the time of writing that a deal is imminent that would prevent another escalating round of tariffs. That would be propitious. The effects of the trade war have not been especially clear in the data so far, with some initial stockpiling inflating volumes. However, this temporary boost has now passed and the tariffs could begin to impede trade growth in early 2019. Unless that is, the world’s two largest economies can agree that trade barriers are not in their interest.

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Senior Economist Mike Jakeman describes how Japan's labour market is growing despite the country's difficult demographics | Duration: 1.58

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Barret Kupelian

Senior Economist

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