The year 2016
The economic environment was virtually unchanged for the Messer Group in 2016. Global economic growth (3.1 percent) was in line with the previous year’s level. The industrialised economies in particular lagged behind expectations, reporting lower economic growth (1.7 percent) than they had the previous year (2.1 percent). High levels of sovereign debt, high unemployment and low growth in productivity were a burden on the economies of many industrialised countries.
The annual balance sheet for the emerging and developing economies was more favourable, achieving growth of 4.1 percent in spite of continued broad regional differences. Economically speaking, the states in Central and South America continued to experience difficulty getting back on their feet; the economic situation remained difficult in Central and Eastern Europe. On the other hand, notable rates of growth were seen in India (6.8 percent), which benefited from low energy prices and rising real wages, and in the economies of Asia (where growth averaged 6.4 percent). Important trends continued in the People’s Republic of China: government economic policies favoured domestic demand and the services sector. Economic growth (6.7 percent) remained stable and was still high.
Favourable terms for financing and a weak euro helped the eurozone cautiously increase its economic output (1.7 percent). The recession had been overcome, and yet, in too many countries, considerable levels of public and private debt, low levels of investment and political uncertainties – including the outcomes of several elections and the consequences of ‘Brexit’ – stood in the way of higher growth.
The Institute for the World Economy, located in Kiel, succinctly summed up the economic trend in the Federal Republic of Germany: ‘The German economy remains on track towards expansion in a turbulent international environment’. Following a brief period of slack in the summer, the order books for industry filled up again significantly. Prominent among the winners were companies offering intermediate and capital goods. Capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sectors was slightly above average. The construction industry (and housing construction in particular) experienced a strong boom. In addition, high levels of household consumption once again bolstered the German economy, which experienced 1.9 percent real growth in GDP.