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Last Update: 03/12/2009
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Part of the audited Consolidated Financial Statements and Management´s Analysis

Forecast of economic environment

The world economy is in the worst crisis of the postwar period, whose impact will also shape the year 2009. We expect a recession that involves a decrease in global gross domestic product (–0.3%). In the industrialized countries, economic growth will decline significantly (–1.6%). Early indicators show that the production will decline at least into the second quarter. For the year 2010, we expect a moderate recovery. Not until 2011 is it expected that growth will return to near the normal rate of over +3%. However, any forecast is currently subject to great uncertainty.

Outlook for Gross Domestic Product 2009 Real change compared with previous year

Outlook for Gross Domestic Product 2009 (bar chart)

As a result of the crisis in the financial markets and in wide parts of industry, Europe can expect a difficult first half of the year. Economic growth in 2009 will decline (–1.5%), despite a slight improvement in the second half of the year. In the United Kingdom and Spain, investments in construction, above all in housing, will decrease in the course of the recession. There will also be considerable declines in the automotive industry across Europe. In Germany, the Benelux and other countries that are highly dependent on exports, a significant downturn in exports is expected. The announced economic stimulus plans will help support growth. We expect slight mid-term economic growth (+0.4%).

Trends 2009–2011 Average annual real change

Trends 2009 – 2011 (bar chart)

We expect a decrease (–2.0%) in gross domestic product in the United States in 2009. This will be caused by the continuing significant decline in domestic demand and lower investment in the construction industry. The growth in private consumption will decrease as a result of negative wealth effects and decreasing employment. The new U.S. government has planned a massive economic stimulus plan of almost $900 billion over the next two years. We expect that mid-term economic growth will be low (+0.9%), due to the continued difficult market conditions.

Economic growth will be negatively impacted in Asia (excluding Japan) , particularly due to the recessions in the most important export markets: the United States, the European Union and Japan. The downturn will primarily affect the ASEAN countries as well as China and Taiwan. Private consumer demand and robust construction activity, however, will support economic growth in 2009 (+4.5%). Robust mid-term growth is expected (+5.7%).

In Japan , we anticipate a decrease in gross domestic product in 2009 (–1.5%). The current financial crisis will indirectly affect Japan, particularly due to the strong appreciation of the yen against the U.S. dollar. Japanese domestic demand as well as exports will continue to weaken. Parallel to this development, the willingness of companies to invest will decrease. Mid-term gross domestic product is not expected to grow.

The growth of the gross domestic product in South America will decrease (+2.3%) in 2009. The decline in raw material prices will particularly affect Venezuela and Brazil. Despite the interest rate increase in Brazil and Argentina, we expect the domestic economy to remain strong. The trend to renationalization in several parts of South America makes it more difficult to conduct long-term investments. Mid-term gross domestic product will grow somewhat stronger (+3.0%).

FOR THE YEAR 2009 WE EXPECT THE FOLLOWING ECONOMIC CONDITIONS:


  • Decline in global gross domestic product (–0.3%)
  • Continued critical situation in the first half of year in the United States, in many European countries, and in Japan due to the credit crisis
  • Slight improvement of the economic situation in late fall through fiscal stimulus, lower inflation and energy prices as well as stronger confidence
  • Crisis-related lower interest rates in the United States and in Europe in the course of 2009
  • An average euro/dollar exchange rate of $1.30 per euro
  • Continued low oil price: annual average $50 per barrel

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