The Global Landscape:
2012 will be a lot like 2011. European debt problems will remain. The struggle within the US housing sector will continue as will US political infighting. Financial markets will react by being volatile -- driven by emotion and fear.
In Europe, recent successful sovereign debt issues and a large liquidity transfer from the ECB to the European Banking system has tempered their financial markets. 2012 will see the European Union as a whole in a mild recession and Greece will again emerge as a funding problem.
Recent economic data in the US is quite encouraging. Retail sales over the holidays were good and Jobless Claims were down as private sector hiring improved. In the critical Services Sector corporations added 325,000 new jobs and the unemployment ratio hit a three year low. The US appears on track for modest growth in 2012 but debt problems remain.
China has brought its real estate speculation under control and with food price inflation falling, the door is now open to reduce tightening and begin easing monetary policy. Despite European and US problems China’s trade surplus has remained strong and GDP growth in 2012 should be in the 8% range.
Canada will have modest growth of 2.5% - 3.00% in 2012 aided by growth in the US and improving world commodity markets. Strong growth in the energy sector will be a big positive for Western Canada. Interest rates will continue to remain low until growth rates rise in the US and Europe.