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Overall Economic Developments

The global economy continued its moderate growth in 2014. Real global gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 3.3 percent compared with a rise of 3.3 percent in 2013. This growth was mainly driven by robust economic development in a number of advanced economies, notably in the United States and in the UK. While the economy has recently expanded somewhat faster in the threshold countries, the overall economic trend remains sluggish.

In the euro zone, the growth dynamic slowed slightly over the course of the year. This is primarily attributable to moderate growth in investments and exports. According to the Statistical Office of the European Union, real GDP increased by 0.9 percent in 2014, having fallen 0.5 percent in 2013.

After a strong start to the year, the economic situation in Germany slowed during the summer half-year and stabilized toward the end of the year as a result of strong domestic demand. According to the Federal Statistical Office, real GDP increased by 1.6 percent in 2014 compared with a rise of 0.1 percent in 2013. The French economy stagnated in the first half of 2014. Overall, real GDP grew by 0.4 percent in 2014 compared to 0.3 percent in 2013. In the UK, the robust economic development continued in 2014. Real GDP grew by 2.6 percent compared to 1.7 percent in the previous year.

In the United States, the economic recovery has stabilized over the last few months. According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, real GDP in the United States in 2014 rose by 2.4 percent compared with 2.2 percent in 2013.

Developments in Relevant Markets

The following analysis focuses on markets and regions of a sufficient size if their trend can be adequately aggregated and if they are strategically important from a Group perspective.

The European TV advertising markets largely grew in 2014. The German TV advertising market showed moderate growth, while the market in the Netherlands grew slightly and the French TV advertising market remained stable. The TV advertising markets in Southern and Eastern Europe showed moderate to strong growth, whereas the Belgian TV advertising market declined.

Overall, the English- and German-language book markets showed largely stable development in 2014. The book market in the United States grew slightly, thanks in particular to a strong development in the children’s and teen book segments. In Spain, the persistently difficult overall economic environment adversely affected the book market. The global growth of e-books continued, with Germany in particular recording significant growth, while growth in the United States and the UK decelerated.

The magazine markets in Germany and France in 2014 were characterized by declining advertising business and moderately declining circulation business.

As a result of the trend toward outsourcing, the service markets for customer relationship management, supply chain management, financial solutions, IT solutions and digital marketing enjoyed very positive growth. However, the storage media markets fell significantly due to the increasing importance of digital means of distribution.

The European print markets for magazines, catalogs and promotional materials in 2014 continued to shrink and were dogged by persistent price and volume pressure. The book-printing market in North America remained stable.

The global music-publishing markets showed slight growth, while the recorded-music markets declined slightly.

As expected, the US education markets achieved strong growth in 2014, particularly in the e-learning, health & human sciences and education services segments.