IMF Trims World Growth Outlook as Risks Raise Pressure
The International Monetary Fund trimmed its global-growth projections, warning of high uncertainty and risks as financial-sector stress adds to pressures emanating from tighter monetary policy and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The unexpected failures last month of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank and the collapse of Credit Suisse Group AG roiled markets and ignited financial-stability concerns, complicating central banks’ quest to tame inflation while maintaining growth and the health of the banking system.
“The risks are weighted heavily to the downside, in large part because of the financial turmoil of the last month and a half,” said Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, the fund’s chief economist. “That is under control as of now, but we are concerned that this could result in a sharper and a more elevated downturn if financial conditions were to worsen significantly.”
Speaking at a briefing Tuesday, Gourinchas said “there are maybe some lurking vulnerabilities and this is why it’s very important at this point for financial supervisors, regulators and authorities to really go and look very carefully at these pockets of vulnerability that might still exist, whether in the banking sector in the non-bank financial institutions, and more broadly.”
In a Bloomberg Television interview, he said banks “are going to be a little bit more prudent in extending loans going forward. And that could weigh down further on economic growth both in the US and in the rest of the world.”
While the reduction in the 2023 forecast isn’t large, the report showed the IMF is more subdued about the outlook than in January, when it saw this year as a “turning point” for the global economy and risks were more balanced.
Last week, the IMF warned growth over the next five years will be limited. That’s based on risks from economic fragmentation caused by geopolitical tension — including the escalating US-China rivalry that’s reinforced by the war in Europe — as well as slower labor-force growth and decelerating long-term rates of expansion in China and South Korea.
While the IMF has lowered its estimate for global growth, the World Bank raised its outlook to 2% from 1.7% in January, owing to stronger Chinese expansion, President David Malpass said Monday. Bloomberg Economics also lifted its prediction for economic expansion this year.
What Bloomberg Economics Says…
The “base case is for global growth of 2.7% in 2023, up from expectations of 2.4% at the start of the year but still below 3.3% in 2022 and weak relative to the pre-pandemic trend. A faster-than-expected reopening in China, warm winter in Europe keeping a lid on energy costs, and resilient US labor markets are the main drivers of the upward revision. Banking stress is a drag, and a warning on risks ahead, but so far doesn’t outweigh those positives.”
— Scott Johnson, economist
For the full note, click here
The fund sees the global inflation rate at 7% this year, 0.4 percentage point higher than the January projection, though down from 8.7% in 2022. The slowdown stems from declining commodity prices and the impact of interest-rate increases. For most countries, the pace of price growth will remain above central bank objectives until 2025.
Inflation rates are expected to be lower in about 76% of countries in 2023 than in 2022 and to slow further to 4.9% in 2024.
While the financial turmoil looks controlled as of now, the IMF is concerned about the potential impact if conditions worsen significantly, Gourinchas told reporters.
In one scenario, which it calls a “plausible alternative,” financial instability remains contained but impacts conditions more than in the IMF’s base case and banks reduce lending. That would cause growth to slow to 2.5% in 2023, the weakest pace since 2001, excluding the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and the global financial crisis of 2009.
In a severe downside scenario, which has about a 25% probability, there could be significant credit disruption, and the pace of global expansion could slow to less than 2% — something that’s only happened five times since 1970. There’s also about a 15% probability of growth at just 1%.
Additional risks beyond the financial sector include inflation taking longer than expected to slow, China’s reopening faltering, or a worsening of the Russia-Ukraine war.
“We’re seeing a lot of downside risk going forward,” Gourinchas said.
Here are some other highlights from the report:
- The fund raised its 2023 growth forecast for advanced nations marginally to 1.3%, 0.1 percentage point higher than previously foreseen, boosted by strong labor markets. But that’s less than half the 2.7% expansion in 2022.
- Japan’s forecast was cut to 1.3%, 0.5 percentage point lower than in January, after a disappointing fourth quarter that’s expected to have carried into this year
- The US is expected to grow 1.6%, 0.2 percentage point more than in the prior projection
- The IMF cut its growth expectations for emerging markets and developing economies — which have a bigger weighting than advanced nations based on purchasing-power-parity — to 3.9%, 0.1 percentage point lower than its prior projection
- The largest reduction among major economies was for South Africa, seen growing just 0.1%, down 1.1 percentage point from the previous estimate
- The biggest upgrade was for Saudi Arabia, which the fund now predicts will expand 3.1%, 0.5 percentage point higher than seen in January, boosted by large investment projects