Global Economy: Do Signs Point to Stability?

After years of uncertainty, has the global economy finally found its footing again?

Based on early reports, the global economic theme for 2014 may be "stabilization." While still early, the tone around the economy – globally and in the U.S. – is starkly different than a year ago.

And after three years of global productivity declines, The Conference Board is expecting labor productivity to "improve fairly substantially." The 2014 Productivity Brief, based on data from The Conference Board Total Economy Database, reports that global labor productivity, measured as the average change in output per person employed, will grow 2.3 percent in 2014.

Labor productivity declined from 3.9 percent in 2010 to 2.6 percent in 2011, 1.8 percent in 2012, and 1.7 percent in 2013.

The key driver of the turnaround in productivity appears to be "the stabilization of productivity growth rates in mature economies," said Bart van Ark, chief economist for The Conference Board. Emerging economies are also expected to see moderate improvement, but will "stabilize at much lower levels than experienced during the first decade of the century."

Industrial production stats for November (released on Jan. 14, 2014) also pointed to stabilization in Europe, with industrial production in the euro zone rising at its highest rate in four years. Industrial production in the euro zone grew 1.8 percent in November when compared with October; for the EU28, industrial production grew 1.5 percent.

While still far below peak levels, the report indicates that the recession-plagued continent is finally taking solid steps forward.

And while the U.S. government is still being viewed with a wary eye, it seems that folks in Washington, D.C., may finally be figuring out how to work together – at least a little. There's still work to be done, but on Monday, Congressional leaders announced that they had reached "agreement" on a $1 trillion spending bill that would keep the government running through Sept. 30.

Join Andrew Duguay of the Institute for Trend Research and MDM Editor Lindsay Konzak on Thursday, Jan. 16, at 1 p.m. ET for The 2014 Distribution Industry Outlook to hear more about the economic outlook for the next year and trends to watch in distribution. Learn more or register.

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