A Tough Climb, but the View is Spectacular

We told you that this year would be an uphill climb. Admittedly, it was not a particularly hard prediction to make, since all the indicators were clearly pointing in the same direction.

But now that the situation has become crystal clear, there’s an impulsive urge to review the high points.

Above all, performance is generally slow.  And, as is natural, things look different, depending on one’s perspective. Slow for Europe amounts to a growth trend, in the most optimistic of forecasts, of 0.8%, according to estimates by the European Central Bank. A rate that actually spells stagnation and, furthermore, is the result of an average taken from the various countries that make it up, but which are very far apart. If the number one country is Germany, with a growth rate of  0.6%,  even with its very sizable industrial accomplishments (that run entirely counter to the market trend), just a short distance away we find France, with a more restrained but not distant 0.4%; and, bringing up the rear, are countries like Italy and Spain, which are technically in recession; not to mention Greece, the seriously ailing member of the Euro zone, now recovering in intensive care. For the United States, slow is an anticipated, but minor, growth rate that fluctuates around 2% but, it is showing strong signs of  revival; while for the emerging countries, the point of view changes completely. Brazil is expected to post a 3.3% growth rate, but that’s a step down from last year’s 5%; while China, the real driver of the global economy, will have to "settle" (based on Chinese logic, and politics, which call for double-digit growth rates) for a modest 7.5%. As if to say: times are tough for everyone, but for some they are even tougher. Paradoxically, they are also propitious.

Indeed, now more than ever, the hunger for technology is gnawing at the new powerhouses of the global economy – China, Brazil and India – even though, to a lesser degree, need to invest in innovation to stimulate their own industrial development and reach levels of manufacturing quality on a par with market demand. The United States needs to keep its international competitive edge intact. European businesses are therefore called to meet this demand for technology, some (like the Italians) more than others, due to the prestige they have earned. When it comes to technology, the phrase “Italians do it better” has an interpretation all its own that is understood around the world when applied to glass processing machinery. The average ratio of their exports to revenues is more than 75%, and will likely continue to grow. Europe’s domestic market is sluggish, although with different nuances; however, demand on international markets is pressing -- this is the big news. True, it’s an uphill journey, but one that’s calling our name.

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