Global economic growth picked up considerable speed in 2017. The economy experienced an upswing in almost all major markets. The economic situation improved in a year-on-year comparison in emerging markets as well: China’s economy grew at a rate that was at least three times as fast as Germany’s in 2017, with its GDP expanding by 6.9 percent last year. This means that the world’s second-largest economy made a return to stronger growth for the first time since 2010. The economic recovery has also made itself apparent on the US labor market. The unemployment rate stood at 4.4 percent last year. In the months from October to December, it came to 4.1 percent, the lowest level witnessed in around 17 years. All in all, global economic growth came to 3.7 percent in 2017, up on the previous year (2016: + 3.2 percent).

  • Consumption and construction boom in a low interest rate environment fuel economic upswing in Germany
  • Exports and production in German industry at a record high
  • Long-term effects of the tax reform in the US and Brexit still impossible to predict

The economic situation in Germany, the Würth Group’s largest single market, was characterized in 2017 by the strongest growth seen in six years. The gross domestic product rose by 2.2 percent (2016: + 1.9 percent).

The craft segment, which is the most important sales market for the Würth Group, recorded rising sales, strong investment and significantly more new hires in 2017. Sales generated by craft businesses increased by 3.6 percent in 2017 (2016: + 3.0 percent). In the metal and electrical industry, another key sector for the Würth Group, production rose by an average of 3.7 percent in 2017 (2016: + 1.5 percent). The German automotive industry produced fewer cars in the country in 2017. 5.6 million vehicles were manufactured here in Germany, compared with 5.8 million in the previous year. Production in Germany’s mechanical engineering sector increased signi­ficantly in 2017, namely by 3.1 percent compared to one year earlier (2016: + 0.1 percent). Sales also improved by 3.1 percent, reaching a total of EUR 224 billion. The construction industry continues to boom. Sales rose by another 5.0 percent year on year to EUR 112 billion. In the last quarter of 2017, the order books were fuller than they had been in 20 years.

In 2017, the economy in the eurozone matched the level of growth last witnessed in 2007, i.e. before the financial crisis. Both in the EU and in the eurozone, gross domestic product increased by 2.5 percent (2016: + 1.9 percent). This marked a ten-year high in both cases. Despite battling with the crisis in Catalonia, the Spanish economy grew for the fourth year running. At 3.1 percent, growth was down slightly compared with the previous year (2016: +3.3 percent). Italy experienced an upswing in 2017 after a ten-year slump. The economy grew by 1.5 percent (2016: +  0.9 percent), although it nevertheless continued to lag behind the two locomotives of the European economy, Germany and France. In 2017, France experienced the strongest economic growth seen since 2011 after the election of President Emmanuel Macron. GDP rose by 1.9 percent (2016: + 1.1 percent).

The United Kingdom remained in positive territory, albeit with weaker growth: gross domestic product increased by 1.4 percent (2016: + 1.8 percent). This was the weakest growth rate reported by the British economy in five years.

The economic situation in the US showed positive development. All in all, gross domestic product rose by 2.3 percent in 2017 (2016: + 1.5 percent). Consumer spending also increased significantly, growing by 3.8 percent.

The economic situation in China and India also remained positive in 2017. The Chinese economy reported strong growth of 6.9 percent (2016: + 6.7 percent). India’s economy even outpaced China’s with 7.6 percent growth. Total GDP in Latin America increased by 1.3 percent in 2017 (2016: – 0.6 percent). This improvement was driven, in particular, by the recovery in Brazil as the region’s largest economy. The economic situation in Russia showed a marked recovery. Despite sanctions imposed by the West, GDP in 2017 showed positive growth for the first time since 2014, at 1.5 percent. The figures had been in the red in the two previous years (2016: – 0.2 percent, 2015: –2.8 percent).