Compounding the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has magnified the slowdown in the global economy, which is entering what could become a protracted period of feeble growth and elevated inflation, according to the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report.
This raises the risk of stagflation, with potentially harmful consequences for middle- and low-income economies alike, the Bank said yesterday in the report.
Global growth is expected to slump from 5.7% in 2021 to 2.9% in 2022— significantly lower than 4.1% that was anticipated in January. It is expected to hover around that pace over 2023-24, as the war in Ukraine disrupts activity, investment, and trade in the near term, pent-up demand fades, and fiscal and monetary policy accommodation is withdrawn.
As a result of the damage from the pandemic and the war, the level of per capita income in developing economies this year will be nearly 5% below its pre-pandemic trend.
“The war in Ukraine, lockdowns in China, supply-chain disruptions, and the risk of stagflation are hammering growth. For many countries, recession will be hard to avoid,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass.
“Markets look forward, so it is urgent to encourage production and avoid trade restrictions. Changes in fiscal, monetary, climate and debt policy are needed to counter capital misallocation and inequality.”
The June Global Economic Prospects report offers the first systematic assessment of how current global economic conditions compare with the stagflation of the 1970s—with a particular emphasis on how stagflation could affect emerging markets and developing economies.
The recovery from the stagflation of the 1970s required steep increases in interest rates in major advanced economies, which played a prominent role in triggering a string of financial crises in emerging markets and developing economies.
“Developing economies will have to balance the need to ensure fiscal sustainability with the need to mitigate the effects of today’s overlapping crises on their poorest citizens,” said Ayhan Kose, Director of the World Bank’s Prospects Group.
“Communicating monetary policy decisions clearly, leveraging credible monetary policy frameworks, and protecting central bank independence can effectively anchor inflation expectations and reduce the amount of policy tightening required to achieve the desired effects on inflation and activity.”
…if inflation remains elevated, a repeat of the resolution of the earlier stagflation episode could translate into a sharp global downturn along with financial crises in some emerging markets and developing economies.
Global inflation is expected to moderate next year but it will likely remain above inflation targets in many economies. The report notes that if inflation remains elevated, a repeat of the resolution of the earlier stagflation episode could translate into a sharp global downturn along with financial crises in some emerging markets and developing economies.
The report also offers fresh insights on how the war’s effects on energy markets are clouding the global growth outlook. The war in Ukraine has led to a surge in prices across a wide range of energy-related commodities. Higher energy prices will lower real incomes, raise production costs, tighten financial conditions, and constrain macroeconomic policy especially in energy-importing countries.
The report highlights the need for decisive global and national policy action to avert the worst consequences of the war in Ukraine for the global economy.
This will involve global efforts to limit the harm to those affected by the war, to cushion the blow from surging oil and food prices, to speed up debt relief, and to expand vaccinations in low-income countries. It will also involve vigorous supply responses at the national level while keeping global commodity markets functioning well.
Policymakers, moreover, should refrain from distortionary policies such as price controls, subsidies, and export bans, which could worsen the recent increase in commodity prices.
Against the challenging backdrop of higher inflation, weaker growth, tighter financial conditions, and limited fiscal policy space, governments will need to reprioritize spending toward targeted relief for vulnerable populations.