Global Economic Outlook 2016 - Key Findings


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Global growth remains weak for the remainder of 2016 with some upside for 2017

Growth prospects for the global economy continue to weaken, and recent events such as the Brexit vote, terrorist attacks around the world, and the upcoming US presidential election are creating elevated levels of uncertainty for businesses. The Conference Board outlook for global economic growth remains modest at 2.2 percent in 2016 and at 2.6 percent in 2017. While growth rates between mature and emerging markets have rapidly converged, significant variation between regions remains.

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Economic & Business Outlook

US: Economic growth remains subdued

  • Despite a developing rebound for the second half of the year, GDP growth for the United States is adjusted downward to 1.4 percent for 2016, as a result of a weak GDP growth in the first two quarters
  • Although employment growth and stronger housing trends support consumer spending, faster wage acceleration is the key to sustain income levels and support consumption as the key driver of growth
  • Weak investment remains a key source of slow U.S. growth, which is one cause of slow productivity growth
  • The combination of rising wage levels and low productivity provides an increased threat to profits in the coming quarters

EURO-AREA: Continued modest growth in 2016

  • Despite increased political risks, the short-term economic environment in Europe is relatively favorable compared to other mature economies.
  • Domestic demand and improving labor markets continue to drive the current moderate recovery, but the effects of pent-up demand and lower oil prices are waning.
  • Investment and productivity are projected to somewhat improve, paving the way for some growth acceleration towards the end of the decade.
  • Check our frequently updated Brexit portal for continued coverage on the impact of Britain’s forthcoming exit from the EU on your business.

ASIA-PACIFIC: Growth is unlikely to improve further

  • Growth rates for China, India and Southeast Asia are unlikely to see significant improvement in 2016 compared to last year.
  • Growth in China in 2016 is expected to stay in the same range as in 2015 at 3.6 percent (for more information see this FAQ)
  • When using The Conference Board’s slower growth rates for China – compared to the official estimates –, India looks to have overtaken China role as the growth champion of the region. However, we do not expect any improvement in India’s growth performance in 2016 relative to 2015.

LATIN AMERICA: Losing the race?

  • Rapid falls in oil and commodity prices have negatively impacted Latin American economies, and exacerbated the ongoing troubles in the biggest economy in the region, Brazil.
  • To help lift economic potential and drive productivity growth, more private sector and foreign investment is needed as well as integration of the informal sector into large and modern business practices.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: Positive, but uncertain

  • The prolonged decline in commodity prices, as well as weak growth in Nigeria and South Africa, will cause overall growth for the region in 2016 to come in at 1.8 percent, the region’s slowest growth performance in two decades.
  • The region still has a lot of potential for economic expansion in the medium to long run, mainly due to its large demographic dividend and ample room for catch-up. However, several political and institutional constraints offer significant uncertainty. 


Related material (members only)

September 2016

StraightTalk® Global Economic Outlook 2016: September 2016 Update

  • Strategic overview

Special report on the outlook for corporate profits

  • What Lies Ahead for Corporate Profits in Mature Economies?

May 2016

StraightTalk® Global Economic Outlook 2016: May 2016 Update

  • Strategic overview

Special report on Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Climbing a Steeper Hill? Sub-Saharan Africa’s recent economic development and business prospects


February 2016

StraightTalk® Global Economic Outlook 2016: February 2016 Update

  • Strategic overview 


November 2015

Global Economic Outlook 2016: The Global Economy in a Holding Pattern

  • A full overview of The Conference Board Global Economic Outlook 2016
  • Business implications by major countries and regions

StraightTalk® Global Economic Outlook 2016: Escaping the Global Economy's Holding Pattern

  • Strategic overview

Global Economic Outlook 2016: How to Support Profits in a Slow Global Economy

  • Strategic implications for the Chief Financial Officer

Global Economic Outlook 2016: Anticipating Labor Market Tightness at Times of Slow Global Growth

  • Strategic implications for the Chief Human Resource Officer


Next update

The next update of The Conference Board’s Global Economic Outlook is scheduled for November 16, 2016, and will feature a fresh reassessment of medium and long-term growth.

Sub-Saharan Africa

As sub-Saharan Africa’s growth pains continue in the coming decade, businesses must adopt a range of strategies to succeed across different groups of economies (undiversified, agricultural, frontier, and fragile) in the region.


On-demand webcast

Global Economic Outlook - Data & Methods
Abdul A. Erumban
Senior Economist