Countries to Watch in 2018

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By Peter Coy

From Brazil to Nigeria to Japan, here’s a look ahead at the global economy.

Each year the International Monetary Fund projects gross domestic product per capita—a rough measure of living standards—for almost every country in the world. The annual shifts aren’t big, although notice that China has gradually improved from poor to lower-middle-income. The country outlooks below are based on reports by Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Economics.

Canada

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $47,658
Canadians haven’t given up on a new North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., but they’re also pursuing a trade deal with China.

Mexico

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $10,021
Leftist nationalist Andrés Manuel López Obrador is leading in the polls and could be elected to a six-year term as president in July.

U.S.

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $61,687
The Trump administration is likely to keep the world guessing on issues including trade, fiscal stimulus, and military alliances.

Brazil

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $10,515
The economy climbed out of recession this year, but the political scandals that threaten to envelop President Michel Temer jeopardize growth.

Italy

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $33,725
Divisions on the right are increasing the chance that a populist, euroskeptic government could take power after general elections, which are set for May or earlier.

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U.K.

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $40,026
Britain’s exit from the European Union must happen by March 2019. The battle over terms of disengagement will get even more fractious in 2018.

Germany

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $47,535
Germany continues to export way more than it imports, annoying its neighbors. In 2018 its current account surplus seems likely to remain above the 6 percent ceiling prescribed by the EU.

Nigeria

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $2,376
Oil output is rebounding after touching a 27-year low in 2016, when militants attacked pipelines. An overvalued currency could deter foreign investment.

Saudi Arabia

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $21,453
The government is scheduled to sell shares in Saudi Aramco, the oil giant, but there are reports it may delay the international portion of the sale until at least 2019.

Russia

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $10,630
Domestic oil producers appear to be abiding by an agreement with OPEC to cut production. The biggest risk for the economy in 2018 is a sharp fall in oil prices.

India

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $1,989
Growth slowed earlier this year. But with inflation finally under control, the Reserve Bank of India is likely to cut interest rates, fueling a rebound.

Australia

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $58,941
The government will continue to fight a debt-fueled bubble in home prices in 2018. Almost 40 percent of such loans are interest-only, and 85 percent have variable rates.

South Korea

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $30,919
Improving global demand has fueled a comeback in exports. Despite the threat of attack from North Korea, businesses keep investing, and consumers keep spending.

Japan

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $40,063
Fresh off reelection in October, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will redouble efforts to restructure the economy—the third arrow in his quiver after fiscal and monetary policy.

China

GDP per capita, 2018 forecast: $9,377
Having been elected to a second five-year term in October, President Xi Jinping may use 2018 to push essential but unpopular measures, such as closing inefficient plants.

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