Oil prices have been persistently low for well over a year and a half now, but as the April 2016 World Economic Outlook will document, the widely anticipated “shot in the arm” for the global economy has yet to materialize. We argue that, paradoxically, global benefits from low prices will likely appear only after prices have recovered somewhat, and advanced economies have made more progress surmounting the current low interest rate environment.
At the start of 2016, turbulence in financial markets has returned amid renewed concern about risks to global economic growth. The fundamental forces that underlay our October World Economic Outlook projections have not dissipated, and in some respects have intensified, leading us to trim our expectations for future medium-term growth of the world economy.
In the World Economic Outlook Update released today, we still, however, expect growth to pick up this year in most countries.
Despite the modesty of the reduction we see in general growth prospects and the promise of improvement in coming years, downside risks to our central scenario have intensified. In our view, a focus on these risks is the main factor driving recent developments in financial markets.
We may be in for a bumpy ride this year, especially in the emerging and developing world.
Today, we released the October 2015 World Economic Outlook.
Our forecasts come at a moment when the world economy is at the intersection of at least three powerful forces.
First, China’s economic transformation – away from export- and investment-led growth and manufacturing, in favor of a greater focus on consumption and services. This process, however necessary and healthy in the longer term, has near-term implications for China’s growth and its relations with its trade partners.
(Version in Español)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” With these words Charles Dickens opens his novel “A Tale of Two Cities”. Winners and losers in a “tale of two commodities” may one day look back with similar reflections, as prices of metals and oil have seen some seismic shifts in recent weeks, months and years.
This blog seeks to explain how demand — but also supply and financial market conditions — are affecting metals prices. We will show some contrast with oil, where supply is the major factor. Stay tuned for a deeper analysis of the trends in a special commodities feature, which will be included in next month’s World Economic Outlook.
By David Lipton
Why have businesses in advanced economies not been investing more in machinery, equipment and plants? Business investment is the largest component of private investment, and its weakness has puzzled many of us.
Some believe that the key to more business investment is less uncertainty about fiscal policy, regulation, and structural reforms. Some believe that it is providing better financing, including for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Today we published the World Economic Outlook Update.
But first, let me talk about the elephant in the room, namely Greece.
The word elephant may not be right: As dramatic as the events in Greece are, Greece accounts for less than two percent of the Eurozone GDP, and less than one half of one percent of world GDP.
Continue reading “Behind the News in Greece and China, Moderate Growth Continues” »
In our April 2015 World Economic Outlook, we forecast global growth to be roughly the same this year than last year, 3.5% versus 3.4%. This global number reflects an increase in growth in advanced economies, 2.4% versus 1.8%, offset by a decrease in growth in emerging market and developing economies, 4.3% versus 4.6% last year. In short, to repeat the words used by the IMF Managing Director last week, we see growth as “moderate and uneven”.
Behind these numbers lies an unusually complex set of forces shaping the world economy. Some, such as the decline in the price of oil and the evolution of exchange rates, are highly visible. Some, from crisis legacies to lower potential growth, play more of a role behind the scene but are important nevertheless. Let me briefly review them.
The debate continues on why businesses aren’t investing more in machinery, equipment and plants. In advanced economies, business investment—the largest component of private investment—has contracted much more since the global financial crisis than after previous recession. And there are worrying signs that this has eroded long-term economic growth.
Getting the diagnosis right is critical for devising policies to encourage firms to invest more. If low investment is merely a symptom of a weak economic environment, with firms responding to weak sales, then calls for expanding overall economic activity could be justified. If, on the other hand, special impediments are mainly to blame, such as policy uncertainty or financial sector weaknesses, as some suggest, then these must be removed before investment can rise.
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?
Unemployment is a global problem. If the unemployed formed their own country, it would be the fifth largest in the world. Of the nearly 200 million people around the world looking for work, half are in emerging markets and about a quarter in advanced economies, reflecting the growing weight of emerging markets in the global labor force (Figure 1).