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Finance Chiefs Head to IMF Amid Slowdown Concerns

Group of 20 (G-20) finance ministers and central bank governors including Nicolas Dujovne, Argentina's treasury minister, from right, Guido Sandleris, president of Argentina's central bank, Taro Aso, Japan's deputy prime minister and finance minister, Haruhiko Kuroda, governor of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia's finance minister, and Ahmed Alkholifey, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, attend a Group of 20 (G-20) finance ministers and central bank governors group photo on the sidelines of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, April 12, 2019. The IMF cut its outlook for global growth to the lowest since the financial crisis amid a bleaker outlook in most major advanced economies and signs that higher tariffs are weighing on trade. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The guardians of the world economy head to Washington this week under the cloud of a slowing world economy.

The annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank kick off with the new leaders of both expressing concern over the outlook. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva is already hinting her economists will on Tuesday cut their projections for global growth from 3.2% this year and 3.5% next year.

Downgrades Ahead

That will be the fourth downgrade since last October and reflects what Georgieva last week called a “synchronized slowdown” in which 90% of the world is experiencing weakening demand.

The question for central bankers and finance ministers is what can they do to prop up their economies. Much will depend on the path of the trade talks between the U.S. and China, which on Friday ended in a partial agreement. That doesn’t mean, though, that a curtain is being drawn on the uncertainty President Donald Trump’s trade wars have brought to the global economy.

Trump’s China Handshake Lifts Spirits But Not the Sober Outlook

Here’s what happened last week and below is our weekly wrap of what’s going on in the world economy this week.

U.S.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is not scheduled to appear in public this week, meaning investors will have to wait for any signs from the very top of the central banks as to whether it’s will cut interest rates this month for a third time this year. Several regional Fed presidents will though take to the microphone. Atlanta’s Raphael Bostic, Kansas City’s Esther George, James Bullard of St. Louis and Mary Daly of San Francisco all talk Tuesday. Chicago’s Charlie Evans and John Williams of New York follow Wednesday. Robert Kaplan of Dallas, Vice Chairman Rich Clarida and Neel Kashkari of Minneapolis speak Friday.

Central bank has made two reductions so far this year

The Fed’s Beige Book comes out on Wednesday giving a snapshot of economic conditions across the nation. That is published hours after retail sales data for September with economists predicting another month of modest growth. Industrial production may have contracted the same month, underscoring recession fears, a report is forecast to show on Thursday.

  • For more, read Bloomberg Economics’ full Week Ahead for the U.S.

Europe, Middle East and Africa

Industrial production for the euro area will be released on Monday, giving another indication of how the German slowdown has marred overall growth. Meanwhile, multiple European Central Bank officials may use the IMF meetings to extend the recent spat over stimulus. In the U.K., labor market, inflation and retail sales data will illustrate the economic backdrop during a crunch political week as another Brexit deadline looms and an extension or deal remains clouded in doubt.

Splitters

Israel’s inflation on Tuesday is likely to stay below the central bank’s target range of 1% to 3%, showing why a rate cut to near zero is in the cards. A financial crisis may be looming in Lebanon as pressure on the currency peg mounts and investors increasingly ask how long the government can continue to repay its debts. In Ghana, September inflation data will be out on Wednesday.

  • For more, read Bloomberg Economics’ full Week Ahead for EMEA

Latin America

Argentina’s government will start publishing a final round of key economic indicators before the Oct. 27 presidential election. September consumer price figures are due on Wednesday, and economists surveyed by the central bank expect a month-on-month jump of 5.8%, which would be the biggest in a year. A delegation of Argentine officials will head to Washington for the IMF meetings. Tensions have risen between them and the lender since they signed a record $56 billion credit deal in 2018.

  • For more, read Bloomberg Economics’ full Week Ahead for Latin America

Asia

Central banks in two bellwether trade economies — Singapore and South Korea — will announce monetary policy decisions this week, with both likely to ease as growth outlooks worsen. Singapore output data on Monday will likely show the economy narrowly missed a recession, enabling central bankers to take a gradual approach to policy easing.

Deeper Dive

A raft of data out of China will likely show an economy that’s hurting: GDP growth probably slowed further in the third quarter, exports continued to contract and producer prices are deflating again. In Hong Kong, Chief Executive Carrie Lam will set out her economic policy objectives in a key speech, coming against the backdrop of a worsening political crisis and deepening economic slump.

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