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US economy overtaken by EU, Japan

Press TV | May 29, 2007

The Organization for Economic Development has said that economic growth in other rich countries has overtaken the United States this year.

The OECD says that world growth is being led by Europe and Japan, which is compensating for a US slowdown.

Growth in Germany has been stronger than expected, and is projected to be 2.9 percent this year, down from 3 percent in 2006.

Overall, the rich countries in the OECD are expected to grow by 2.7 percent in both 2007 and 2008, down from 3.2 percent in 2006.

Japan is also growing unexpectedly fast, at 2.4 percent this year, led by surging exports.

"The current economic situation is in many ways better than what we have experienced for years," OECD chief economist Jean-Philippe Cotis told BBC.

Cotis said the main risk to the "benign" central forecast was the "tricky" situation in the United States, where an over-extended housing market has slowed the economy.

But the slowdown "may be of a broader nature, and may involve a mild form of stagflation, with weaker trend productivity growth and output growth translating into more overheating".

The OECD is urging the US Federal Reserve to keep interest rates unchanged this year in view of the uncertainty.

Cotis also warned that there would be need for further rate rises, notably in Europe, where core inflation is already at the 2 percent target and activity is set to expand further, and possibly in the UK, "should inflationary pressures persist".

The OECD is projecting UK growth of 2.7 percent this year, helped by migration which has helped keep wages in check, but it warns that greater government spending restraint will be needed in the future to reduce the budget deficit.

The OECD says that the strong growth has reduced budget deficits in many countries, but that policy makers should be careful not to spend their "cyclical" surpluses which could exacerbate a downturn later.

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