The IMF released its World Economic Outlook today, and if the title “Growth Slowdown, Precarious Recovery” didn’t give it away, the results aren’t great. The organization estimates that global GDP growth will slow to 3.3% this year, a fourth downgrade to its 2019 forecast in nine months.
The IMF cited a number of factors in its gloomier outlook, noting that “the escalation of US-China trade tensions, macroeconomic stress in Argentina and Turkey, disruptions to the auto sector in Germany, tighter credit policies in China, and financial tightening alongside the normalization of monetary policy in the larger advanced economies have all contributed to a significantly weakened global expansion.”
A gradual acceleration in growth is expected in the latter half of 2019. Partly this is a result of officials moving to counteract the current slowdown: The US Federal Reserve has stopped hiking interest rates, China is going ahead with significant stimulus measures, and a possible trade agreement between the US and China could boost growth. Still, today’s IMF release comes a day after US trade representative Robert Lighthizer proposed $11 billion in tariffs on EU goods, including cheese and wine, in retaliation over the bloc’s subsidies for Airbus. The move highlighted the precariousness of global trade under the Trump administration’s “America First” policies.
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The IMF’s expectation of an acceleration in growth later this year also assumes “a gradual stabilization of conditions” in Argentina and Turkey. That’s a big assumption, which is probably why the IMF described it as “a delicate year for the global economy.”