World food prices are on the rise again owing mainly to global weather-related shocks. This has led to concern that the rise could result in higher inflation and hurt the most vulnerable. The impact on domestic inflation in Latin America and the Caribbean of the latest food price shock is beginning to be felt, although the pass-through to core (or underlying) inflation has been relatively limited thus far.
As the world economy continues to struggle, people are taking to the streets by the thousands to protest painful cuts in public spending designed to reduce government debt and deficits. This fiscal fury is understandable. People want to regain the confidence they once had about the future when the economy was booming and more of us had jobs. But after a protracted economic crisis, this will take planning, fair burden-sharing, and time itself.
The world is now in a much better situation than six months ago when it comes to policy solutions, according to Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance , who is Chair of the IMF's policy-setting committee, the IMFC, speaking about the outcome of the IMF-World Bank annual meetings in Tokyo.
I went to two areas around Sendai—the first was the Arahama Elementary School, site of a successful evacuation during the disaster. The school is still in its wrecked state—just as it was straight after the tsunami struck. Debris is strewn all over the grounds–a mangled mass of vehicles resembling more a scrap yard than a school. The corridors and classrooms inside are also in ruins.
As recognized in our Global Financial Stability Report, actions taken by the European Central Bank have helped remove investors’ worst fears. Now policymakers at both the national and euro area level will need to build on these. The stakes are high. For instance, if pressures continue, total assets of major banks in Europe could shrink by as much as $2.8 trillion, possibly leading to a contraction in credit supply in the "periphery" by 9 percent by the end of 2013.
The slow global recovery is making fiscal adjustment more difficult around the world, but this doesn’t mean that little has been accomplished. In fact, significant progress in many countries has been made during the past two years in strengthening their fiscal accounts after the 2008–09 deterioration.
The world economic recovery continues, but it has weakened further. In advanced countries, growth is now too low to make a substantial dent in unemployment. And in major emerging countries, growth that had been strong earlier has also decreased. Relative to the IMF's forecasts last April, our growth forecasts for 2013 have been revised down from 1.8% to 1.5% for advanced countries, and from 5.8% down to 5.6% for emerging and developing countries.The downward revisions are widespread.
The 2012 annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank are being held this year in Tokyo at a crucial time for the world economy. Key reports out this week are the closely watched World Economic Outlook, the Fiscal Monitor, and the Global Financial Stability Report.
A growth strategy is the best jobs strategy. Policies that restore growth in advanced economies will also put people back to work in these countries. And the growth spillovers to emerging markets and developing economies will boost jobs there as well. Put differently, the human costs—in terms of increased unemployment—of making bad policy choices are immense.