IMF outlook worsens for a world economy left ‘limping’ by shocks like Russia’s war

WASHINGTON (AP) — The world economy is losing momentum in the face of higher interest rates, the ongoing war in Ukraine and widening geopolitical rifts, the International Monetary Fund warned Tuesday.

The IMF said it expects global economic growth to slow to 2.9% in 2024 from an expected 3% this year. The forecast for next year is down a notch from the 3% it predicted back in July.

The deceleration comes at a time when the world has yet to fully mend from a devastating but short-lived COVID-19 recession in 2020. A series of shocks, including the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has slashed worldwide economic output by about $3.7 trillion over the past three years compared with pre-COVID trends.

“We see a global economy that is limping along,” IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas told reporters ahead of the IMF and World Bank’s fall meetings this week in Marrakech, Morocco.

The IMF expectation of 3% growth this year is down from 3.5% in 2022 but unchanged from its July projections.

The news isn’t all bad. The world economy has displayed “remarkable resiliency,” Gourinchas said, at a time when the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks worldwide have aggressively raised interest rates to combat a resurgence in inflation.

The hikes have helped ease price pressures without putting many people out of work. That combination, he said, is “increasingly consistent” with a so-called soft landing — the idea that inflation can be contained without causing a recession.

The IMF sees global consumer price inflation dropping from 8.7% in 2022 to 6.9% this year and 5.8% in 2024.

The United States is a standout in the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook. The IMF upgraded its forecast for U.S. growth this year to 2.1% (matching 2022) and 1.5% in 2024 (up sharply from the 1% it had predicted in July).

The U.S., an energy exporter, has not been hurt as much as countries in Europe and elsewhere by higher oil prices, which shot up after Russia invaded Ukraine last year and jumped more recently because of Saudi Arabia’s production cuts. And American consumers have been more willing than most to spend the savings they accumulated during the pandemic.

Things are gloomier in the 20 countries that share the euro currency and are more exposed to rising energy prices. The IMF downgraded eurozone growth to 0.7% this year and 1.2% in 2024. It actually expects the German economy to shrink by 0.5% this year before recovering to 0.9% growth next year.

The Chinese economy, the world’s second biggest, is forecast to grow 5% this year and 4.2% in 2024 — both downgrades from what the IMF expected in July.

China’s economy was expected to bounce back this year after the communist government ended draconian “zero-COVID” lockdowns that had crippled growth in 2022. But the country is struggling with troubles in its overbuilt housing market.

The IMF again expressed concern that the countries of the world were breaking into geopolitical blocs that could limit international trade and economic growth globally.

The United States and its allies have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and have sought to become less reliant on Chinese imports as tensions with Beijing grow.

The IMF noted that last year countries imposed nearly 3,000 new restrictions on trade, up from fewer than 1,000 in 2019. It sees international trade growing just 0.9% this year and 3.5% in 2024, down sharply from the 2000-2019 annual average of 4.9%.

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