The global economy has deteriorated significantly since the middle of the year. This was primarily caused by the crisis on international financial markets. The atmosphere remains tense despite comprehensive support measures taken by central banks and state aid programmes initiated to bolster equity in the financial sector. It is impossible to predict the exact extent of the crisis. All of the big industrialized countries are on the verge of a recession. In addition, growth in most emerging countries has cooled considerably.
Eurozone gross domestic product (GDP) in the period under review was an estimated 1.4 % higher year on year. Growth slowed substantially in the third quarter, although the euro lost considerable ground against the US dollar during the same period and the price of crude oil fell sharply. Following a strong start to the year, the German economy lost some of its strength as well. However, according to preliminary figures for the first nine months, German GDP was up 1.7 % nevertheless. Weak consumer spending continues to slow economic growth. Investing and export activity have also waned as of late. The UK economy, similar to the US, is suffering from a real estate crisis. Furthermore, it is greatly affected by the recent development on the capital markets, owing to London’s importance as a financial centre. Despite this, however, the UK economy expanded by 1.3 % during the first three quarters of the year. Whereas the countries of Central Eastern Europe reported high growth rates and strong currencies at the mid-year point, their situation also worsened considerably over the course of the third quarter. However, economic output by the region as a whole was up between 4 and 5 % in the period under review.