The global economy never really gathered steam in 2015 and expanded moderately at best. Growth in global gross domestic product stood at 3 percent – a growth figure lower than any seen since the crisis year of 2009. Among the industrialised nations, the USA still showed noticeable growth (around 2.9 percent); sustained momentum for the Japanese economy, on the other hand, was lacking (+1.1 percent). Development in the emerging economies was subdued as well. The recession intensified in Latin America, Brazil and Russia. In China, which is particularly important for Messer, the long period of stormy growth subsided.
The ‘Middle Kingdom’ had excess capacity to contend with in (heavy) industry, numerous companies with high levels of debt, and a weak domestic economy. At 5.9 percent, industrial production grew at a slower pace than it had since the economic and financial crisis began. On the other hand, the service sector rose sharply by 8.3 percent. All in all, Chinese GDP grew by 6.9 percent – a value still high by international standards and reflective of expectations of that country’s political leaders. Economic policy had committed itself to a process of transformation that specifically promoted service sectors and was geared towards a future relying less on spectacular and more on continuously stable, sustainable growth.
‘Moderate’ was also a fitting term for economic experts’ characterisation of economic trends in the eurozone. Here, low interest rates and oil prices, together with the relatively low external value of the euro, provided growth of 1.5 percent. Economic performance was encouraging in countries such as Spain and Ireland, where the economic recovery progressed in large strides. The French economy, on the other hand, lacked momentum; Italy's economic output failed to develop at the expected pace; and the economies of Greece, Croatia and Latvia found themselves in a fragile state.
The bottom line for the economy in the Federal Republic of Germany was favourable. Price-adjusted GDP here was 1.8 percent higher on the year. The most important pillar for the upswing was household consumption, fuelled by favourable developments in the labour market, high growth in employment and rising wages. Other factors contributing to overall economic growth included the construction industry, a lively upturn in the services sector and brisk foreign trade.