Europe, Middle East and Africa
The Central Statistics Office released official figures on the latest quarterly growth within the Republic of Ireland during 2017, and the data appears quite positive. As reported by the Irish Times, 2017's third quarter showed a whopping 10.5 per cent increase in economic growth. Additionally, gross national product went up 11.9 per cent and GDP jumped 4.2 per cent. The latter number stood out as particularly notable to some, given that it beat GDP growth through the entire eurozone by a factor of eight times.
Information and communications, as well as manufacturing, stood out as the biggest sectors contributing to Ireland's recent economic upswing. According to the Times, export-based trade and personal consumption also went up, rising 4.4 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively.
Some analysts, such as Dermot O'Leary of Goodbody, urged that people not jump the gun on any major business decisions based on these numbers. O'Leary stated that while Ireland certainly was expanding economically, the high numbers were driven by the nation's sizable percentage of facilities from multinational corporations. Ultimately, growth of Irish businesses might thus be less astounding than those double-digit figures, though not at all negative.
No nation among the world's 19 other biggest economies saw growth as notable as Turkey's during the third quarter of 2017. According to Bloomberg, while economic experts predicted that GDP would increase 8.5 per cent, it rose 11.1 per cent within Q3.
Exports and imports both served as major drivers of this progress, respectively increasing by 17.2 and 14.5 per cent - massive jumps from Q3 of the previous year. During that period in 2016, exports dropped 9.2 per cent and imports only increased by 2.4 per cent. Additionally, consumption among Turkish residential households went up 11.7 per cent on a year-over-year basis. Government officials stated that this furious pace of growth would likely not be sustainable in 2018, but economic reforms could lead to regular growth between 5.5 and 6.5 per cent in the near future.
Prominent economic experts in Japan recently predicted that the country's GDP would grow 1.8 per cent during the 2018 fiscal year. According to The Japan Times, this estimate constitutes a 0.4 per cent increase from the government's previous projection for GDP expansion within that period. Additionally, nominal GDP growth is expected to reach 564.3 million yen in the next 12 fiscal months. Japanese officials have targeted a figure of 600 million yen for nominal GDP growth by 2020, indicating that at least according to this metric, the national economy is doing better than expected. That 564.3 million figure would also represent an all-time high.
Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's economic minister, did express some concern about the adverse effects that any small instability within the financial markets of nations closely aligned with Japan as trading partners could pose for the Nipponese economy. However, Reuters reported that Motegi also said forthcoming educational initiatives would help bolster learning opportunities for future job-seekers, and also spoke positively of the Japanese export market and high domestic consumption. Regarding the latter figure, The Japan Times pointed out that personal spending is expected to rise 1.4 per cent from the previous year's total during 2018. Also, while the nation's consumer price index only increased 0.7 per cent in 2018, the government predicted a 1.1 per cent uptick to occur in the 2018 fiscal year.
For numerous reasons, 2017 stood out as a watershed year for Thailand, and the strength of its economy was prominent among those factors. While per capita GDP is growing at a slower pace than some of its neighbor nations in Southeast Asia, the virtually evergreen appeal of tourism and solid exports from its industrial businesses will keep Thailand rolling through 2018, according to Livemint.
Citing data from the Kasikorn Research Center, The Nation reported that the overall Thai economy would probably grow 4 per cent during 2018, up from the 3.9 per cent figure that 2017's rate of economic expansion is expected to reach by the end of 2017. E-commerce will likely contribute to this positive trend, with that field of Thailand's retail market expected to grow as much as 25 per cent.
The Center's researchers concluded that bank lending in Thailand would expand 4.5 per cent in the coming year, a 0.5 per cent increase from 2017. Lending is all but universally regarded as a reliable barometer of an economy's health, so this may bode well for the nation's consumers. Businesses may also be able to surge forward with new plans, as bank loans to companies project to come in at a 3.5 per cent growth rate for 2018.
A relative dearth of technological advancement, by comparison to other Southeast Asian countries, could pose a problem for Thailand's economy, Livemint noted. Aware of this, the Thai government has already begun implementing initiatives to help encourage the formation of tech startups within the nation.
The American labour force experienced a notable increase in its number of new jobs during November 2017. Figures from the December Employment Situation Summary issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that nonfarm payroll employment added 228,000 positions this month. Bloomberg reported that the number beat prominent economists' projections by a significant margin, as these experts had expected a gain of about 195,000 jobs during November. Professional and business services, healthcare and manufacturing accounted for the majority of this latest surge in employment.
With the year nearing its end and the U.S. economy's general trend having been a positive one, the Federal Reserve finally formalized its long-awaited hike of interest rates, with the benchmark rate percentage being increased by 0.25 to reach 1.5 per cent. The Washington Post reported that the Dec. 13 move, while widely expected, was an undoubtedly positive sign. Janet Yellen, the Fed's chair, stated as much in a press conference announcing the rate hike.
"At the moment, the U.S. economy is performing well," Yellen said. "There's less to lose sleep about now than has been true for quite some time."
Only average monthly wage growth, which rose 0.2 per cent (5 cents) - less than the predicted 0.3 per cent jump - provided any counter to an otherwise roundly positive portrait of the current American economic landscape. According to Bloomberg, numerous economic experts believe wage expansion should rise at a more robust pace in the near future.
The economies making up the region of Latin America have, by and large, experienced some difficulties in the last few years. However, recent data compiled and released by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean contained definitive and much-appreciated positive news for lawmakers, business leaders and workers in these nations.
In the 2017 edition of its "Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean," ECLAC found that overall gross domestic product throughout the entire region had jumped 1.3 per cent throughout the past 12 months. While those unfamiliar with Latin America's economic struggles might consider that a small uptick, it constitutes the first GDP growth these nations have seen as a whole in two years.
ECLAC stated that Panama and the Dominican Republic are projected to experience the highest growth rates in Latin America during 2018, with the former expected to hit 5.5 per cent and the latter right behind it at 5.1 per cent. All nations should expect individual growth increases between 2 and 4 per cent in 2018, while the entire region is projected for a 2.2 per cent GDP uptick during the year.