The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis released its monthly report this week on world trade and world industrial production for the month of December 2011. Here are some of the highlights:
1. World trade volume increased in December by 1.5% on a monthly basis and by 2.5% on an annual basis, bringing the global trade index to a new all-time record high of 166.6 (see blue line in chart). World trade is now 4.0% above the previous April 2008 peak of 160.2 in the early part of the U.S. and global recessions.
2. By region, annual export growth was led by the United States at 8%, followed by 6.2% export growth for Central and Eastern Europe and 5.2% for Latin America.
3. World industrial output increased by 1% in December from the previous month and by 3.8% on an annual basis, reaching a new all-time high of 145.2 (see red line in chart), with especially strong annual output growth in Asia (8.85%) and emerging economies (7.1%). Output declined in both Europe (-1.25%) and Japan (-2.75%) on an annual basis.
4. World output is now 7.6% above its pre-recession level and 23% above the recessionary low in March 2009.
Bottom Line: Both world trade volume and world industrial output ended last year at record high levels in December, providing more evidence of a global recovery last year from the 2008-2009 recession. The economic weaknesses in Europe and Japan were more than offset by especially strong trade and output growth in the U.S., Latin America, Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe. In an important economic milestone for the global economy, the year 2011 ended with the highest-ever volume of global trade in a single month and the highest-ever monthly amount of world industrial output in history.
Update: Based on this explanatory note, I think the world trade volume series is adjusted for inflation, see the formula and discussion on page 6.