Cautious Optimism: Updated Global GDP Forecast

By  Walt Custer, for

The World Bank just updated its multiyear forecast for GDP growth both globally and by country (Chart 1).

It noted: “Despite recent softening, global economic growth will remain robust at 3.1 percent in 2018 before slowing gradually over the next two years, as advanced-economy growth decelerates and the recovery in major commodity-exporting emerging market and developing economies levels off.

“This outlook is subject to considerable downside risks. The possibility of disorderly financial market volatility has increased, and the vulnerability of some emerging market and developing economies to such disruption has risen. Trade protectionist sentiment has also mounted, while policy uncertainty and geopolitical risks remain elevated.”

Semiconductor Growth Outlook Strong (Chart 2)

The WSTS updated its world semiconductor shipment forecast. This new forecast (endorsed by SIA) projects worldwide semiconductor sales will be a record $463 billion in 2018, a 12.4 percent increase from 2017. WSTS projects year-to-year increases across all regional markets for 2018.

This revised semiconductor forecast coupled with very robust global semiconductor capital equipment sales (Chart 3) paint a positive outlook for 2018.

Very Strong End Market Growth in First Quarter (Chart 4)

Based upon the combined 1Q’18 financial reports of 213 large, global OEMs, electronic equipment sales (consolidated into U.S. dollars) increased globally an estimated (and very robust) 10.6 percent in 1Q’18 vs. 1Q’17. While this world growth result is very heartening it was significantly inflated by exchange rate effects as stronger non-dollar currencies were converted into weaker dollars.

Looking at world electronic equipment sales consolidated into both dollars and euros, 1Q’18 growth rates are MUCH different (Chart 5). 1Q’18 vs.1Q’17 electronic equipment sales grew 10.6 percent in dollars but declined 4.3 percent in euros!


Certainly the first quarter was strong globally but the currency chosen for analysis can have a BIG effect.

U.S. Supply Chain Expansion Continues

Looking at the U.S. market (in dollars – therefore not distorted by exchange rates) domestic electronic equipment orders rose 6.7 percent in February-April 2018 versus the same three-month period in 2017. The U.S. electronic industry is doing reasonably well at present.

Expect the recent exchange rate based amplification of dollar denominated global growth to taper off quickly.

Keep a careful watch on the geopolitical situation.

Walt Custer of Custer Consulting Group is an analyst focused on the global electronics industry.