The global macroeconomic environment showed modest growth in 2016, with expansionary trends in the more advanced economies progressively dwindling in the face of gradual recovery by some emerging economies.
Eurozone economic growth remained sluggish, even though the expansionary monetary policy promoted by the European Central Bank continued to be in place throughout 2016. In particular, in the second half of the year, the uncertainty ensuing Britain's June vote to leave the European Union (Brexit) undermined confidence in the expected consolidation of the upturn emerging in 2015. The constitutional referendum held in Italy on 4 December 2016, combined with the crisis in some of the nation's financial institutions, helped increase the level of domestic uncertainty, which was reflected in a substantial hike in interest rates in the last months of the year.
While remaining positive, the US growth rate declined by more than expected, especially in the first part of 2016, affected by the inevitable slowdown in the oil industry as well as by the impact on exports of the dollar's appreciation against major world currencies.
China continued its transition from an export-driven industrial economy to a service economy, more oriented to supporting domestic consumption. This involved an inevitable slowdown in industrial activity and investment, thus affecting short-term economic growth and prices of raw materials used in the main industrial processes. The stimulus package implemented by the government in support of the housing market and infrastructure investment allowed the country to meet its growth objectives.