The Financial Express

World Bank slashes global growth forecast to 2.9pc

| Updated: June 08, 2022 08:51:25

The Maersk Line container ship Maersk Batam sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer The Maersk Line container ship Maersk Batam sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

The World Bank on Tuesday slashed its global growth forecast by 1.2 percentage points to 2.9 per cent for 2022, warning that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has compounded the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, with many countries likely to face recession, news agency Reuters reported.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine had magnified the slowdown in the global economy, which was now entering what could become "a protracted period of feeble growth and elevated inflation," the World Bank said in its Global Economic Prospects report.

World Bank President David Malpass said global growth was being hammered by the war, fresh COVID-19 lockdowns in China, supply-chain disruptions and the risk of stagflation, a period of weak growth and high inflation last seen in the 1970s.

"The danger of stagflation is considerable today," Malpass wrote in the foreword to the report. "Subdued growth will likely persist throughout the decade because of weak investment in most of the world. With inflation now running at multi-decade highs in many countries and supply expected to grow slowly, there is a risk that inflation will remain higher for longer."

Between 2021 and 2024, the pace of global growth is projected to slow by 2.7 percentage points, Malpass said, more than twice the deceleration seen between 1976 and 1979.

The report warned that interest rate increases required to control inflation at the end of the 1970s were so steep that they touched off a global recession in 1982, and a string of financial crises in emerging market and developing economies.

While there were similarities to conditions back then, there were also important differences, including the strength of the US dollar and generally lower oil prices, as well as generally strong balance sheets at major financial institutions.

To reduce the risks, policymakers should work to coordinate aid for Ukraine, counter the spike in oil and food prices, step up debt relief, strengthen efforts to contain COVID-19, and speed the transition to a low-carbon economy, Malpass said.

The bank forecast a slump in global growth to 2.9% in 2022 from 5.7 per cent in 2021, with growth to hover near that level in 2023 and 2024. It said global inflation should moderate next year but would likely remain above targets in many economies.

Growth in advanced economies was projected to decelerate sharply to 2.6 per cent in 2022 and 2.2 per cent in 2023 after hitting 5.1 per cent in 2021.

Emerging market and developing economies were seen achieving growth of just 3.4 per cent in 2022, down from 6.6 per cent in 2021, and well below the annual average of 4.8 per cent seen in 2011-2019.

Negative spillovers from the war in Ukraine would more than offset any near-term boost reaped by commodity exporters from higher energy prices, with 2022 growth forecasts revised down in nearly 70 per cent of emerging markets and developing economies.

The regional European and Central Asian economy, which does not include Western Europe, was expected to contract by 2.9 per cent after growth of 6.5 per cent in 2021, rebounding slightly to growth of 1.5 per cent in 2023. Ukraine's economy was expected to contract by 45.1 per cent and Russia's by 8.9 per cent.

Growth was expected to decelerate sharply in Latin America and the Caribbean, reaching just 2.5 per cent this year and slowing further to 1.9 per cent in 2023, the bank said.

The Middle East and North Africa would benefit from rising oil prices, with growth seen reaching 5.3 per cent in 2022 before slowing to 3.6 per cent in 2023, while South Asia would see growth of 6.8 per cent this year and 5.8 per cent in 2023.

Sub-Saharan Africa's growth was expected to slow somewhat to 3.7 per cent in 2022 from 4.2 per cent in 2021, the bank said.

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