As with previous crises, the global financial crisis has prompted greater calls for international policy cooperation, but it still remains very much like Nessie, the lovable Loch Ness monster: oft-discussed, seldom seen. To reflect on the obstacles to international policy cooperation, and how to make progress, the IMF recently hosted a panel discussion, Toward a More Cooperative International Monetary System: Perspectives from the Past, Prospects for the Future, with Maurice Obstfeld (CEA; University of Berkley), José Antonio Ocampo (Columbia University), Alexandre Swoboda (The Graduate Institute, Geneva), and Paul Volcker (Former Chairman, Federal Reserve).
(version in Español)
The world economy is facing strong and complex cross currents. On the one hand, major economies are benefiting from the decline in the price of oil. On the other, in many parts of the world, lower long run prospects adversely affect demand, resulting in a strong undertow.
We released the World Economic Outlook Update today in Beijing, China. The upshot for the global economy is that while we expect stronger growth in 2015 than in 2014, our forecast is slightly down from last October. More specifically, our forecast for global growth in 2015 is 3.5%, 0.3% higher than global growth in 2014, but 0.3% less than our forecast in October. For 2016, we forecast 3.7% growth, again a downward revision from the last World Economic Outlook.
At the country level, the cross currents make for a complicated picture. Good news for oil importers, bad news for exporters. Good news for commodity importers, bad news for exporters. Continuing struggles for the countries which still show scars of the crisis, not so for others. Good news for countries more linked to the euro and the yen, bad news for those more linked to the dollar. In short, many different combinations, many different boxes, and countries in each box.
Let me expand a bit on some of these themes.
Oil prices have plunged recently, affecting everyone: producers, exporters, governments, and consumers. Overall, we see this as a shot in the arm for the global economy. Bearing in mind that our simulations do not represent a forecast of the state of the global economy, we find a gain for world GDP between 0.3 and 0.7 percent in 2015, compared to a scenario without the drop in oil prices. There is however much more to this complex and evolving story. In this blog we examine the mechanics of the oil market now and in the future, the implications for various groups of countries as well as for financial stability, and how policymakers should address the impact on their economies.
- We find both supply and demand factors have played a role in the sharp price decline since June. Futures markets suggest that oil prices will rebound but remain below the level of recent years. There is however substantial uncertainty about the evolution of supply and demand factors as the story unfolds.
- While no two countries will experience the drop in the same way, they share some common traits: oil importers among advanced economies, and even more so emerging markets, stand to benefit from higher household income, lower input costs, and improved external positions. Oil exporters will take in less revenue, and their budgets and external balances will be under pressure.
- Risks to financial stability have increased, but remain limited. Currency pressures have so far been limited to a handful of oil exporting countries such as Russia, Nigeria, and Venezuela. Given global financial linkages, these developments demand increased vigilance all around.
- Oil exporters will want to smooth out the adjustment by not curtailing fiscal spending abruptly. For those without savings funds and strong fiscal rules, budgetary and exchange rate pressures may, however, be significant. Without the right monetary policies, this could lead to higher inflation and further depreciation.
- The fall in oil prices provides an opportunity for many countries to decrease energy subsidies and use the savings toward more targeted transfers, and for some to increase energy taxes and lower other taxes.
- In the euro area and Japan, where demand is weak and conventional monetary policy has done most of what it can, central banks forward guidance is crucial to anchor medium term inflation expectations in the face of falling oil prices.
Again, our simulations of the impact of the oil price drop do not represent a forecast for the state of the world economy in 2015 and beyond. This we will do in the IMF’s next World Economic Outlook in January, where we will also look at many other cross-currents driving growth, inflation, global imbalances and financial stability.
What follows is our attempt to answer seven key questions about the oil price decline:
- What are the respective roles of demand and supply factors?
- How persistent is this supply shift likely to be?
- What are the effects likely to be on the global economy?
- What are likely to be the effects on oil importers?
- What are likely to be the effects on oil exporters?
- What are the financial implications?
- What should be the policy response of oil importers and exporters?
The last five years have been a reminder of the importance of interconnections and risks in the global economy. They have triggered intense discussions on the optimal way to combine fiscal, monetary, and financial policies to deal with spillovers, and on the need and the scope for coordination of such policies.
The IMF’s 15th Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference, which took place in Washington DC on November 13 and 14, 2014, focused on Cross-Border Spillovers, and took stock of what we know and do not know. The summary below picks and chooses some papers, and does not do justice to the full set of papers presented and discussed at the conference. They can all be downloaded, and videos of each session are available, at www.imf.org/external/np/res/seminars/2014/arc.
The global crisis—which challenged paradigms about the functioning of financial markets and had significant consequences in other markets—and the sluggish recovery since 2009, are a reminder of the importance of understanding interconnections and risks in the global economy. The increasing trend in global trade, and even more significant, in cross-border financial activities, suggests that spillovers can take many different forms.
The understanding of transmission channels of spillovers has become essential, not only from an academic perspective, but also policymaking. The challenges faced by policy coordination after the initial response to the crisis in 2009—illustrated by the debate on the impact of unconventional monetary policy in emerging economies—raise wide ranging issues on fiscal, monetary, and financial policies.
The recovery continues, but it is weak and uneven.
You have now seen the basic numbers from our latest projections in the October 2014 World Economic Outlook released today. We forecast world growth to be 3.3% in 2014, down 0.1% from our July forecast, and 3.8% in 2015, down 0.2% from our July forecast.
This number hides however very different evolutions. Some countries have recovered or nearly recovered. But others are still struggling.
Looking around the world, economies are subject to two main forces. One from the past: Countries have to deal with the legacies of the financial crisis, ranging from debt overhangs to high unemployment. One from the future, or more accurately, the anticipated future: Potential growth rates are being revised down, and these worse prospects are in turn affecting confidence, demand, and growth today.
Because these two forces play in different countries to different degrees, economic evolutions are becoming more differentiated. With this in mind, let me take you on the usual quick tour of the world:
Lurking conjures up images of spies, flashers and other dodgy types. The IMF’s chief economist Olivier Blanchard takes readers into the dark corners of the financial crisis in his latest article ‘Where Danger Lurks’ in our recent issue of Finance & Development Magazine, and looks at small shocks, sudden stops and liquidity.
By Jeff Hayden
You can call this edition of F&D magazine our Bob Dylan issue. It may seem odd for an economics magazine to draw inspiration from the legendary singer/songwriter, but one of his most famous lines, “The times, they are a-changin,’” reverberated through our corridors as we put together this special issue on the global economy’s past and future.
We weren’t humming the tune to pass the time. The lyrics seemed especially relevant to us this year, as we mark the 70th anniversary of the IMF and World Bank and the 50th anniversary of F&D. The world has seen a staggering amount of change in the past seven decades.
So, with these two anniversaries in mind and with Dylan’s ode to changing times in the air, we focused our attention on the transformation of the global economy—looking back and looking ahead. We wanted to address the question, what will the global economy look like in another 70 years?
The recovery continues, but it remains weak, indeed a bit weaker than we forecast in April.
We have revised our forecast for world growth in 2014 from 3.7 percent in April to 3.4 percent today. This headline number makes things look worse than they really are. To a large extent, it reflects something that has already happened, namely the large negative US growth rate in the first quarter. But it is not all due to that. It also reflects a number of small downward revisions, both in advanced and in emerging economies.
The overall story remains largely the same as before:
Advanced economies are still confronted with high levels of public and private debt, which act as brakes on the recovery. These brakes are coming off, but at different rates across countries.
Emerging markets are slowing down from pre-crisis growth rates. They have to address some of their underlying structural problems, and take on structural reforms. At the same time, they have to deal with the implications of monetary policy normalization in the US.
Let me take you on the usual tour of the world.
By IMFdirect editors
Socrates’ famous method to develop his students’ intellect was to question them relentlessly in an unending search for contradictions and the truth—or at the very least, a great quote.
The method was alive and well among the moderators, panelists and audiences of the IMF’s Spring Meetings seminars that took place alongside official discussions, where boosting high-quality growth, with a focus on the medium term, was at the top of the agenda. Our editors fanned out and found a couple of big themes kept coming up. Here are some of the highlights.
Lots of people are talking about what happens when the flood of easy money into emerging markets thanks to low interest rates in advanced economies like the United States slows even more than it has in the past year.
At a seminar on fiscal policy the discussion focused on the challenges facing policymakers as central banks slowly exit from unconventional monetary policy and interest rates begin rising.
A live poll of the audience found 63 percent said the global economy remains weak and unconventional monetary policies should remain in place.