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The global economic recovery faltered during 2011. The euro zone lurched from one debt crisis to another, geopolitical tensions affected the oil market and volatile commodity prices posed new levels of supply chain challenges—all threatening the vitality of the global economy. These macroeconomic uncertainties, coupled with high levels of household debt across the developed world, reduced the growth rate of world manufacturing output to 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 against the same period the previous year. This represented the lowest quarterly growth rate in 2011.
However, as Global Manufacturing Outlook 2012: Fostering Growth through Innovation, an Economist Intelligence Unit report sponsored by KPMG, reveals, global manufacturers worldwide remain optimistic about the near-term outlook for their businesses. They are using the low-growth environment to become leaner and more efficient. Since 2011, manufacturers have become slightly more bullish that an upswing in the global economy is imminent. Thus they are ramping up their innovation activity, finding ways to increase efficiency (for example, by improving the ways they manage costs and optimize their supply chains), and add value to their offerings simultaneously