x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Experts peer into the 2013 crystal ball

Americans still fall in love, Argentina can't make a bigger mess of things, all fine for Africa, zero growth for the UK, and a billion mobile owners are watching out in China.

'The Gherkin', or the St Mary Axe, London. Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg News
'The Gherkin', or the St Mary Axe, London. Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg News


Africa remains on course to double its GDP every decade. This will be the decade of infrastructure investment.

Charles Robertson, chief economist, Renaissance Capital



What matters for Indonesia now is China and Chinese domestic spending.

Timothy Condon, chief economist, Asia, ING Investment Management in Singapore


Russia's energy squeeze

Russia is OK for now but their system gets shaky two to three years down the road. They've been riding a decade of high energy prices, but with all the new oil and gas coming from everywhere, prices will fall. That'll wipe out Gazprom's profits. They're worried about US natural gas exports to Europe. Russia's days as Europe's main energy supplier are numbered.

Anders Aslund, senior fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics



Investors have been burnt before, but I think Argentina's worst days are behind them. Basically, I don't think they can mess up any further than they already have.

Walter Molano, chief economist, BCP Securities



Beijing understands that it needs to rebalance away from investment toward household consumption. Next year will be a crucial step toward that, causing growth to slow in the second half. Most importantly, it needs to tighten up credit. That's going to be hard on the state-owned enterprises that have become so dependent on what has essentially been free capital. But China has reached a point where the growth of investment and credit is no longer wealth creating, it's wealth destroying.

Michael Pettis, finance professor, Peking University

[China's new leader Xi Jinping] has signalled he intends to change things. And there are people watching with a billion cell phones.

Robert Lawrence Kuhn, author of How China's Leaders Think

China's intention to topple the status quo by use of coercion is clear. Does China want to see the Japan-China relations pass the point of no return?

Japanese foreign ministry statement


East Asia

We expect quarter four also to be good, and that then feeds into a very strong next year.

Bert Hofman, World Bank chief economist for East Asia



[Japan's new prime minister Shinzo] Abe is going to hit the ground running. He can get broad agreement on a ¥10 trillion (Dh428.89 billion) stimulus package with infrastructure spending to jolt the economy out of recession. That will add to Japan's pile of debt, but after [on top of 200 per cent] of GDP, what's another ¥10tn?

Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies, Temple University


United States

So much depends on how quickly people continue to fade from the labour force out of frustration. That could actually bring down the unemployment rate rather quickly without a strong recovery in job growth. A stronger economy might actually hold up that rate longer than a weak one, because people will … jump back in and look for work. But remember, the unemployment rate is murky as a signal for the strength of the economy.

James Galbraith, economist, University of Texas

There is a lot of pent-up demand for investment spending that we think will get unleashed next year. Businesses have delayed capital projects in anticipation of the fiscal cliff. Capital spending has been notably weak in the last six months, much weaker than during the rest of the recovery. So a political deal, or even just some clarity about the future, could result in a nice bounceback in capital spending after the beginning of the year.

Jan Hatzius, chief economist, Goldman Sachs

I'm beginning to see US companies spend more and make a few more gambles. Give me all the IT, engineers, scientists, trained technicians, machinists you have. In Europe a lack of certainty has caused a halting of behaviour. There's downward pressure in Mexico, Brazil, and China. By no means do I see 2013 as a rock 'n' roll year.

Carl Camden, chief executive, Kelly Services

We turned bullish on housing in the summer of 2011. Demand is greater than supply. It's that simple. We, unlike other mature countries, still have people fall in love and get married and have babies. The big driver of demand is adult children moving out of the home. New home inventory is at a record low. [Credit is] more widely available than perceived. We are not complacent. I am a worrier beyond worrier. But it's exciting right now.

Ivy Zelman, Zelman & Associates

Businesses that went right to the brink during the crisis are focused on survival and liquidity. Hopefully, that's just a matter of healing and time. It's one reason the Fed wants to be very consistent. If you put together a real consistent year of growth, that might cause companies to invest more.

Julia Coronado, chief economist for North America, BNP Paribas

Look for more demand weakness and rising supply. In the US, we've had six straight quarters where GDP rises and petroleum demand falls. We're finally becoming more energy efficient. On the flip side, we continue to see crude production rising. The latest data has the US producing 6.9 million barrels per day, up 16 per cent from 2011. That rate's not slowing down.

Tim Evans, energy analyst, Citi Futures Perspective


United Kingdom

We face a broader challenge — to defend the market economy amongst so many who suffered during the financial crisis. This was expressed memorably by William McChesney Martin when he spoke to the Economic Club of New York in 1957. He said, 'Men begin to question whether the merriment was worth the misery, especially when the misery was worse among the millions who had never got in on the merrymaking in the first place.'

Sir Mervyn King, governor, Bank of England

Growth in the coming year will be just about zero.

Michael Saunders,economist at Citi Research in London



The budget deficit target will be missed. You have slower growth, revenues are weaker, and you still have a high level of subsidies in energy items that cost government money. There is an election that has to be called by May 2014, so there is always a risk you will get populist-type spending measures that could inflate the budget deficit.

Art Woo, director of sovereigns, Fitch Ratings in Hong Kong



When people need me, I don't abstain from acting.

Silvio Berlusconi, former Italian prime minister, on why he'll be a candidate in the 2013 elections



I am leaving, because you consider that success, creativity, talent, anything different, should be sanctioned. I leave after paying, in 2012, an 85 per cent tax rate on my income.

Gérard Depardieu, French actor, on why he's moving to Belgium


* Bloomberg Business Week