Following marginal growth in 2014, global economic growth is expected to see a continual uptick this year. This is partly due to a variety of conditions, including a strengthening U.S. economy, historically low oil prices, low global interest rates, and developments in the emerging economies. Additionally, if the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations succeed and the agreement is implemented, the deal could shift both income and exports to member countries, generating economic gains worth hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade.
Among developed economies, U.S. growth dipped but remained positive, with encouraging signs from the labor market and consumer spending. Growth expanded by 2.2 percent and 0.2 percent in Q4/2014 and Q1/2015, respectively. Meanwhile, Europe saw marginal increases of 0.3 percent in Q4 and 0.4 percent in Q1. The European Central Bank has implemented an ambitious quantitative easing (QE) program in hopes of reviving the European Union's ailing economy. The drop in the euro-dollar exchange rate and the strong performance of the Euro Stoxx 50 index are positive signs that the QE program is working.
Among the emerging economies, China continued to decelerate, and the government is aggressively attempting to control the slowdown by creating its own version of the European bailout, in which the People's Bank of China aims to restructure debt without impacting credit. Brazil's economy continued its downward trajectory, as consumption has stagnated. Lastly, in South Korea, high housing debt and weak exports have slowed the economic rebound.
Global container throughput is expected to grow slightly, by 1.31 percent in the first quarter after dipping -0.11 percent in Q4 (see Figure 1). Total trade is expected to fall 0.17 percent in Q1, an improvement over the decline of -3.68 percent seen in Q4. Following historical trends, container throughput is expected to jump in Q2, while total trade will remain relatively flat.