Global growth hits customs barriers, says IMF


"At 3% growth, there is no room for political mistakes. Unveiling the latest global economic growth forecast for 2019, Gita Gopinath, the IMF's chief economist, urged policymakers to "urgently" reduce trade tensions.

The International Monetary Fund announced yesterday that it was forecasting the weakest growth since the financial crisis in 2019, first incriminating the trade war between the United States and China, which is severely undermining international trade and amputating GDP. 0.8% worldwide. The estimates were made before Friday's announcement of an agreement in principle between the world's two largest economies.

"We welcome any move towards lower tensions," Gopinath told a news conference. If the agreement was actually signed, the impact on GDP would be reduced by 0.1 to 0.2 point, she added, while stressing that the decline in confidence, a side effect, would last Longer.

The persistence of geopolitical tensions, particularly in the Middle East, the difficult exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit) and a manufacturing sector, in particular the automobile sector, at half-mast are the other main risks which led the Fund to lower, for the fifth time in a year, its global growth forecast.

"The global economy is experiencing a synchronized slowdown," Gopinath said, echoing the words of the new IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva. And while the recovery was driven by international trade after the 2008 crisis, the volume of goods and services traded will only increase by 1.1% this year, 1.4 percentage points lower than expected. still the IMF in the summer. This is the smallest increase since 2012 and a fall from 3.6% in 2018.

Washington and Beijing, at the heart of a tariff war unprecedented since March 2018, will both record weaker growth than estimated in July. The US expansion should fall to 2.4% (a revision of -0.2 points from the July forecast) and that of China to 6.1% (-0.1 points).

"Trade-related uncertainty has had negative effects on investment" in the United States, the IMF commented. "But employment and consumption remain robust, also supported by stimulus," he notes, which allows the world's largest economy to pull, for the moment, its pinnacle of play. "In China , the deterioration of growth reflects not only the rise in tariffs, but also the slowdown in domestic demand following measures taken to control the debt, "says the institution.

At the same time, eurozone countries are struggling with an expected growth of 1.2% (-0.1 point) in 2019. In Italy, GDP will even stagnate, in Germany it will grow by only 0.5 % (-0.2 points) and 1.2% in France (-0.1 points). "In general, weak exports have slowed euro area activity since the beginning of 2018," said the IMF, which also notes the persistence of the impact of changing pollutant standards in the automotive sector.

Winds contrary

Elsewhere in the world, the growth of some major economies in 2019 will be much lower than 2018, but also what was still expected in July. This is the case in India (-0.9 points compared to previous forecasts at 6.1%), Mexico (-0.5 points to 0.4%) or Russia (-0, 1 point to 1.1%).

South Africa (unchanged at 0.7%) and Brazil (+0.1 point at 0.9%) are doing slightly better, but with very low growth rates for emerging economies. The situation of these countries is expected to recover in 2020.

Looking to the future, the IMF anticipates a rebound in global growth in 2020 to 3.4% (-0.1 points). "However, unlike the slowdown that is synchronized, this recovery is not general and remains precarious," warned Gita Gopinath, noting that the slowdown will instead continue in the United States, Japan and China.

Overall, all countries face headwinds. Some of them, like the United States, have been able to compensate for this by lowering interest rates. However, warns the IMF, "monetary policy can not be the only tool" to stimulate growth.

And the first signs of a slowdown in the service sector in both the United States and the euro zone are visible. For example, the Fund recommends that Germany take advantage of "negative borrowing rates to invest in social capital and infrastructure".

"Political mistakes at this stage, such as a Brexit without agreement or escalation of trade disputes, could seriously undermine confidence, growth and job creation," insists the IMF, also warning against the volatility of financial markets .

Source: AFP

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