In its latest assessment and forecast for the world economy, the International Monetary Fund has been the bearer of some rare good news. Yet, while the global economy is enjoying strong growth, challenges remain.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has delivered an unusually upbeat assessment of the prospects for the global economy, with worldwide growth currently at its strongest rate in seven years.
In its latest World Economic Outlook — the global forecast and survey the Washington-based organization publishes and updates periodically — the IMF upgraded its global economic growth forecast for 2017 by 0.1 percent to 3.6 percent. In terms of 2018, the projected growth rate now stands at 3.7 percent.
The report cited "notable pickups in investment, trade, and industrial production, coupled with stronger business and consumer confidence," as central to the strong global recovery.
Significantly from a European perspective, strong growth in the eurozone area, along with improved forecasts for China, Russia and Japan, helped to offset slightly gloomier predictions for Britain, the USA and India.
Time to take stock?
The sustained global upswing, combined with the improved forecasts for 2017 and 2018, means the world economy is now growing at its fastest rate since a brief bounceback in 2010, which came in the aftermath of the devastating financial crisis of 2008-2009. The nature of that upswing puts the current one in an even better light.
"This is not bounce back from a sharp deceleration, this is an acceleration from the fairly tepid growth rates of recent years, so that's really good news," IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld told the Financial Times.
The recovery of the eurozone is of particular note with economic growth for the EU's 19-strong currency grouping predicted to hit 2.1 percent in 2017 and 1.9 percent in 2018.
This marks a welcome change from years of uncertainty during the Euro crisis and is a reflection of improved export figures and stronger domestic demand. Nonetheless, the IMF notes that Europe still faces challenges relating to its weak productivity figures and high debt rates in certain countries.
Recovery 'far from complete'
After years of sluggish global growth and less than rosey predictions about the future, the IMF's latest forecasts suggest calmer waters ahead. Nonetheless, they urged governments to use this period of calm to prepare for the inevitable challenges of the future.
"For policymakers, the welcome cyclical pickup in global activity provides an ideal window of opportunity to tackle key challenges — namely to boost potential output while ensuring its benefits are broadly shared, and to build resilience against downside risks," the Outlook reads.
Growth forecasts in the USA, UK and India have been revised downwards. The UK economy is beset by doubts over the final arrangements of its exit from the European Union while doubts over the US economy have led to marginally reduced growth expectations.
Projected growth rates for China have been upgraded all the way to 2022, on the assumption that the Chinese Communist Party maintains its current economic policies. The Chinese economy is predicted to grow by 6.8 percent in 2017 and by slightly less in 2018.
Despite the good news, the report comes with a warning that the global recovery is far from complete with weak growth rates still persisting in several countries — particularly among fuel exporters hit by a fall in foreign earnings — and inflation still below the target rates in most advanced economies.
aos/jbh (Reuters, AFP)