The global economy, still reeling from the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is facing an increasingly gloomy and uncertain outlook, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In a blog, IMF said many of the downside risks flagged in its April World Economic Outlook have begun to materialize, and some have even worse than was predicted.
Higher-than-expected inflation, especially in the United States and major European economies, is triggering a tightening of global financial conditions. China’s slowdown has been worse than anticipated amid COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns, and there have been further negative spillovers from the war in Ukraine. As a result, global output contracted in the second quarter of this year.
Under our baseline forecast, growth slows from last year’s 6.1 percent to 3.2 percent this year and 2.9 percent next year, downgrades of 0.4 and 0.7 percentage points from April. This reflects stalling growth in the world’s three largest economies—the United States, China and the euro area—with important consequences for the global outlook.
In the United States, reduced household purchasing power and tighter monetary policy will drive growth down to 2.3 percent this year and 1 percent next year. In China, further lockdowns, and the deepening real estate crisis pushed growth down to 3.3 percent this year—the slowest in more than four decades, excluding the pandemic. And in the euro area, growth is revised down to 2.6 percent this year and 1.2 percent in 2023, reflecting spillovers from the war in Ukraine and tighter monetary policy.
Despite slowing activity, global inflation has been revised up, in part due to rising food and energy prices. Inflation this year is anticipated to reach 6.6 percent in advanced economies and 9.5 percent in emerging market and developing economies—upward revisions of 0.9 and 0.8 percentage points respectively—and is projected to remain elevated longer. Inflation has also broadened in many economies, reflecting the impact of cost pressures from disrupted supply chains and historically tight labor markets.
The risks to the outlook are overwhelmingly tilted to the downside:
- The war in Ukraine could lead to a sudden stop of European gas flows from Russia
- Inflation could remain stubbornly high if labor markets remain overly tight or inflation expectations de-anchor, or disinflation proves more costly than expected
- Tighter global financial conditions could induce a surge in debt distress in emerging market and developing economies
- Renewed COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns might further suppress China’s growth
- Rising food and energy prices could cause widespread food insecurity and social unrest
- Geopolitical fragmentation might impede global trade and cooperation.
In a plausible alternative scenario where some of these risks materialize, including a full shutdown of Russian gas flows to Europe, inflation will rise and global growth decelerate further to about 2.6 percent this year and 2 percent next year—a pace that growth has fallen below just five times since 1970. Under this scenario, both the United States and the euro area experience near-zero growth next year, with negative knock-on effects for the rest of the world.
Inflation at current levels represents a clear risk for current and future macroeconomic stability and bringing it back to central bank targets should be the top priority for policymakers. In response to incoming data, central banks of major advanced economies are withdrawing monetary support faster than we expected in April, while many in emerging market and developing economies had already started raising interest rates last year.
The resulting synchronized monetary tightening across countries is historically unprecedented, and its effects are expected to bite, with global growth slowing next year and inflation decelerating. Tighter monetary policy will inevitably have real economic costs, but delaying it will only exacerbate the hardship. Central banks that have started tightening should stay the course until inflation is tamed.
Targeted fiscal support can help cushion the impact on the most vulnerable. But with government budgets stretched by the pandemic and the need for an overall disinflationary macroeconomic policy stance, offsetting targeted support with higher taxes or lower government spending will ensure that fiscal policy does not make the job of monetary policy even harder.