(FORTUNE Magazine) – WELCOME TO FORTUNE's annual feature, the World Economy in Charts, 11 pages of graphs and tables that show how nations have performed in the past three years -- and where they are likely to head in 1992 and 1993. Our statistics and projections are drawn mostly from the WEFA Group economic consulting firm. They demonstrate that you don't have to look only to the blistering Pacific Rim to find the world's fastest-growing economies. Now they are everywhere, from Latin America to central Asia. Many have kept right on booming through the slowdown that took the wind out of the industrial world's sails in 1991 and 1992. Says Robert S. Gay of Bankers Trust: ''The hottest business opportunities are in the emerging countries.'' Among the major economies, the U.S., Britain, and Canada hit recessionary bottoms in 1991, while Japan, Germany, and other European nations suffered slowdowns. Their troubles dragged worldwide growth to a halt after eight years of expansion: Global output fell by three-tenths of a percent in 1991, says the International Monetary Fund. Growth is expected to resume, reaching 1.4% this year and 3.6% next. South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan should keep their edge as growth leaders, but the distance between these tigers and everyone else is narrowing. Mexico is well ahead on the road to stable progress in Latin America, with Argentina and Chile following smartly. India has entered a new period of market-driven expansion, and China's southern province of Guangdong has proved a productive marvel, elevating the whole country to hotshot status. The formula for growth is the same around the world: Remove the heavy hand of the state and liberalize trade and capital rules. The great triumph of economic engineering for the early 1990s has been that continued tight monetary policies held down inflation in both industrial and emerging countries. For most, lower inflation rates should continue into 1993, invigorating competition in many global businesses as managers realize they can't prosper by raising prices. Says Allen W. Shiau, senior vice president of WEFA: ''Companies will have to lower costs and improve quality to survive.'' The cloud -- there's always at least one -- is money. Ambitious enterprises everywhere will need it to expand. ''There will be intense competition for capital in the 1990s,'' says Robert D. Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. Real interest rates have been rising in much of the world since the late Eighties, and the scramble for capital as growth picks up could put further upward pressure on them in the next few years.


-- THE GLOBAL OVERVIEW..............62 -- THE HOTSHOTS.....................66 -- HOW THE NATIONS RANK.............68 -- THE STOCK MARKETS................72 -- WHO'S INVESTING WHERE............74 -- SHIFTING TRADE SHARES............78 -- COMPARING HEALTH CARE............80