Leading economic analysts are painting an unsettling financial picture of the world next year.

Latest forecasts by the Paris-based OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) have adjusted US growth rates in 2005 downward to 3.3% from 3.7%.

And where America leads economically, the rest of the world follows. The twelve countries in the Eurozone could see growth slump to 1.9% while Japan, currently in the throes of economic renaissance, will be fortunate to raise its growth beyond 2.1%, says the OECD.

The root causes of these gloomy predictions are high oil prices and the engineered weakness of the US currency.

The report says fuel consumption in China and India will continue to underpin demand. But, warns the report, energy conservation must be addressed in all markets if oil prices are to stabilise.

The slide of the US dollar can only be halted if America gets its trade deficit under control. The OECD believes the chances of achieving this next year are not good.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff