*Urges developing economies to focus on preserving, rebuilding buffers
Global growth is projected to reach 3.9 percent in 2018 and 2019, in line with the forecast of the April 2018 World Economic Outlook (WEO), but the expansion is becoming less even, and risks to the outlook are mounting, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In its World Economic Outlook Update for July 2018, the Bretton Woods institution said the rate of expansion in global economy appears to have peaked in some major economies and growth has become less synchronized, adding that the balance of risks has shifted to the downside in the near term.
“While the baseline forecast for global growth is roughly unchanged, the balance of risks has shifted to the downside in the near term and, as in the April 2018 WEO, remains skewed to the downside in the medium term.
“The possibility for more buoyant growth than forecast has faded somewhat in light of the weak outturns in the first quarter in several large economies, the moderation in high-frequency economic indicators, and tighter financial conditions in some vulnerable economies,” the IMF said.
It specifically urges emerging market and developing economies to enhance resilience through an appropriate mix of fiscal, monetary, exchange rate, and prudential policies to reduce vulnerability to tightening global financial conditions, sharp currency movements, and capital flow reversals.
“Long-standing advice on the importance of reining in excess credit growth where needed, supporting healthy bank balance sheets, containing maturity and currency mismatches, and maintaining orderly market conditions has become even more relevant in the face of renewed market volatility,” it said, adding that allowing for exchange rate flexibility will be an important means for cushioning the impact of adverse external shocks, although the effects of exchange rate depreciations on private and public sector balance sheets and on domestic inflation expectations need to be closely monitored.
“With debt levels rising rapidly in both emerging and low-income economies over the past decade, fiscal policy should focus on preserving and rebuilding buffers where needed, through growth-friendly measures that protect the most vulnerable.
“To raise potential growth and enhance its inclusiveness, structural reforms remain essential to alleviate infrastructure bottlenecks, strengthen the business environment, upgrade human capital, and ensure access to opportunities for all segments of society.
The IMF said its outlook for the global economy is clouded by financial tensions typified by recent bouts of volatility, highlighting possible abrupt shifts in global financial conditions, and ongoing trade tensions as well as waning support for global economic integration in some advanced economies.
“A sudden deterioration of risk appetite could trigger disruptive portfolio adjustments, accelerate and broaden the reversal of capital flows from emerging markets, and lead to further US dollar appreciation, straining economies with high leverage, fixed exchange rates or balance sheet mismatches,” it noted, adding that in some euro area countries, policy inaction and political shocks at the national level could lead to sovereign spread decompression, worsening public debt dynamics and weakening bank balance sheets.
The IMF also noted that multilateral cooperation remains vital to address challenges that transcend countries’ borders.
“Global economic integration under an open, rule-based multilateral trade system has raised living standards, helped lift productivity, and spread innovation throughout the world. To preserve and broaden these gains, countries should work together to reduce trade costs further and resolve disagreements without raising tariff and non-tariff barriers,” it said.