General economic environment1)

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The recovery in the global economy continued in 2014. Despite this, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its forecast for global economic growth to 3.3% in autumn, responding in particular to the slower than expected economic momentum in the first half of 2014. This forecast is 0.3 percentage points lower than in April 2014. The IMF experts are currently anticipating growth of 3.8% in 2015, although the risk of a slowdown has intensified.

While economic growth in the USA was stable year-on-year at 2.2% according to IMF estimates, the figure for China declined slightly from 7.7% to 7.4% in the 2014 financial year, although growth remained robust. According to a forecast published in early November, the European Union economy is set to record growth of 1.3% in 2014 following stagnation in the previous year (+/– 0%).

Based on European Commission estimates, economic growth in Austria improved from 0.2% in the previous year to 0.7% in 2014, and a further upturn of 1.2% is forecast for 2015. Bulgaria is expected to have recorded GDP growth of 1.2% in 2014, while economic growth in Belarus is set to remain unchanged year-on-year at 0.9%. According to EU estimates, GDP growth in the Republic of Macedonia will increase again to 3.3% in 2014. Following a 1.0% slowdown in economic output in the previous year, Slovenia is expected to have returned to positive development with growth of 2.4% in 2014. By contrast, Croatia looks likely to have again recorded a negative growth rate of 0.7%. Following the floods in spring 2014, the Republic of Serbia is also expected to see a downturn in economic output of 1.0%.

While the US Federal Reserve has held its key interest rate at 0.00–0.25% since 2008 and has ceased its bond buying programme in 2014, the European Central Bank continued with its policy of monetary easing in the year under review. The further intensification of the low interest rate environment led to another two reductions of 10 basis points in June and September 2014 respectively, bringing the key interest rate to its current level of 0.05% as a consequence of the debate on a potential deflation in the eurozone. Further developments that shaped events on the international capital markets included the ongoing civil war in Syria and, in particular, the military conflict in eastern Ukraine and the economic sanctions imposed on Russia. By contrast, the budgetary crises in the peripheral European states have eased slightly, at least for the time being.

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Development of real GDP in the markets of Telekom Austria Group

in %

 

2013

2014e

2015e

Source: IMF for Belarus; European Commission for all other countries

Austria

0.2

0.7

1.2

Bulgaria

1.1

1.2

0.6

Croatia

−0.9

−0.7

0.2

Belarus

0.9

0.9

1.5

Slovenia

−1.0

2.4

1.7

Republic of Serbia

2.6

−1.0

0.0

Republic of Macedonia

2.7

3.3

3.4

1) Sources: GDP for World, USA, China, Belarus: IMF http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2014/02/pdf/text.pdf, dated October 2014, pages 2, 60; European Union, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Republic of Macedonia and Republic of Serbia: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/2014/pdf/ee7_en.pdf, dated 4 November 2014, pages 1, 116, 122

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