Global growth is driven by growth from advanced economies. The IMF expects the GDP for advanced economies to grow by 2.3% in 2018 and 2.2% in 2019. If this growth materialises, it will benefit the container shipping industry, as growth in advanced economies generates the highest trade-to-GDP multiplier. By improving the economic growth potential through structural reforms, the medium and long- term derived demand for the shipping industry can be improved.
Despite a high Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the Euro area, inflationary pressure remains low and together with low wage growth, there is indication of a further opportunity to squeeze the labour market. However, IHS Markit (The PMI data provider) emphasised that input costs and output prices are currently rising. This increases the demand for container shipping, as the shortage comes from partly finished.
In the US the IMF expects the tax bill to produce plenty of activity. Namely, estimations show that 50% of the increase in global growth projection for 2018 and 2019 will be caused by US output. This increase is beneficial for the container shipping industry, as it will probably boost wages, enhancing consumer demand.
China reported a GDP growth of 6.8% for 2017. However, Chinese growth rate for 2018 is expected to slow moderately. This will reduce investments in construction and infrastructure, which may cause lower demand growth for dry bulk commodities imported by China.
BIMCO concluded saying that:
It has been quite some time since macro-economic development has looked this positive and as supportive of shipping. Political events can undermine the development, but 2018 appears to bring fewer economic growth “derailing” events compared to 2017.
In the following PDF you can see the full World Economic Outlook for 2018, as published by IMF