Goldman Sachs Asset Management takes cautious approach in 2012 predictions

Global GDP growth this year will be 3.4%, according to Goldman Sachs Asset Management, whose below consensus and sub-trend predictions are a turnaround on the generally above-consensus forecasts it made a year ago for the 2011 calendar year.

The asset management unit of the US bank is below consensus of 3.7% for global economic expansion, but for 2013 it predicts 4.1% expansion.

The unit chaired by Jim O’Neill (pictured) also said recession was likely in the eurozone, but called above-consensus 2012 economic expansion for the US, of 2.2%, followed by 2.5% in 2013.

The eurozone is expected by GSAM to contact by 0.4% this year – below consensus of 0.4% expansion – but then grow by 1% in 2013.

“Contrary to much belief, we think that the transmission mechanism of the European crisis to the US economy will remain relatively limited, given our base case that the Euro area will not break up,” GSAM said in a research note.

It also predicted 8.2% GDP growth for China, then 8% in 2013 and a soft landing.

O’Neill said: “Even though China is likely to grow more slowly, it is far from obvious to me that this is anything to worry about. On the contrary, it may be really bullish, if it is accompanied by a more balanced set of growth drivers where personal consumption plays a bigger role.

“It also remains clear to me that many Chinese policy initiatives lie ahead, both in terms of macro economic policy and financial markets planning. Over the holidays, in this regard, it is very interesting to have seen the CNY close 2011 out at a new record fix, and markets reducing the probability of some future CNY decline.”

GSAM expects growth markets overall to expand by 6.2% in 2012 (led by BRIC markets with 6.9%), while growth markets should also expand in 2013, by 6.8%. Again BRICs will grow faster, by 7.3%, GSAM predicts.

“We expect global growth to bottom out some time in the first half of 2012 and then rebound towards the end of the year. As a result, our outlook for 2013 is more upbeat, with global growth closer to its trend at 4.1%. While growth in the developed world outside the US is likely to remain sluggish, our 2013 forecast for growth markets is, on aggregate, at trend.

“The outlook is-as seemingly always these days-dependent on outcomes in Europe. While a range of scenarios are conceivable, we simply acknowledge that an escalation of the European crisis is a tail risk for our global view. If there were a messy unravelling of the crisis, contagion could spread forcefully, tightening financial conditions across the world, and impairing global growth in a meaningful way. At the first signs of that, we would revise our forecasts accordingly.”

Other threats GSAM noted included a squeeze in energy markets, and political shifts globally.



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