The cost of the fiscal stimulus

In this Update, we answer some key questions about the fiscal stimulus underway in advanced economies. In short, government deficits are set to soar, probably rising by more than after the financial crisis. This is not an immediate problem, given that central banks will effectively finance those deficits. Even further ahead, higher debt levels won’t be a problem for some countries. But for others, notably Italy, they will.
Vicky Redwood Senior Economic Adviser
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Inflation fears to keep central banks in tightening mode

There were signs that supply shortages were starting to ease in some places at the tail end of 2021. World trade was its strongest since shortages began to bite a year ago and industrial production had picked up too, especially in the auto industry as semiconductor supply improved. Our updated G7 Shortages Indicators also suggest that general product shortages began to ease in the US and UK last month. Given the typical co-movement of our indicators, this would imply that other advanced economies might soon be over the worst of their product shortages too. However, the big picture is that shortages remain acute and will take time to unwind. What’s more, these tentatively encouraging pieces of evidence pre-date the Omicron wave, which could yet lead to renewed disruption, particularly if lockdowns become more widespread in China. Central banks sound more concerned about the associated risks to inflation than the hit to activity and we have revised up our interest rate forecasts for several economies accordingly.

14 January 2022

Global Economics Update

Further thoughts on Omicron’s economic effects

While it is very uncertain, we estimate that disruption due to Omicron could knock around 1% off GDP in advanced economies while the outbreak is at its height, mainly due to staff absences. This would be a severe shock by pre-pandemic standards, but smaller than in previous waves. And the damage should fade quickly as staff return to work and some lost output is made up. But the implications for inflation could be more worrying, meaning that most central banks will press on with policy tightening regardless. Drop-In: Neil Shearing will host an online panel of our senior economists to answer your questions and update on macro and markets this Thursday, 13th January (11:00 ET/16:00 GMT). Register for the latest on everything from Omicron to the Fed to our key calls for 2022. Registration here.

12 January 2022

Global Economics Update

COVID Recovery Monitor

Global coronavirus cases have surged, and pressure is mounting on health systems as hospitalisations rise. Given that Omicron is milder than past variants, governments are typically leaning on booster rollouts and light-touch restrictions rather than resorting to more draconian restrictions on activity. Even so, output is likely to take a hit due to rising numbers of workers isolating with COVID and unable to work from home.

6 January 2022

More from Vicky Redwood

Long Run Focus

Global migration to bounce back

Global migration has ground to a halt over the past year or so, but we doubt that the pandemic will have any major lasting impact. Moreover, there is potential for migration to get a fresh impetus from a big rise in the number of people leaving Africa over the coming decades. This could help to mitigate the problem of ageing populations in developed markets, although countries will continue to display varying degrees of openness to immigration.

15 June 2021

Global Economics Update

How concerning is the recent rise in inflation?

A rise in inflation was always likely to happen this year as economies re-opened and energy prices recovered from last year’s sharp falls. But in the US in particular, the increase since the start of the year has exceeded even our relatively strong expectations. While this might primarily reflect transitory factors, we continue to think that the risk of a sustained rise in inflation is bigger in the US than in other developed economies.

10 June 2021

Long Run Focus

Will we start working less?

The downward trend in average working hours in advanced economies has slowed or stalled in the past few decades. Yet there are reasons to think that the decline will resume, at least in some sectors and some countries. Other things equal, fewer hours worked would dent GDP. However, a reduction in working hours could boost participation and/or make workers more productive. As for the impact on the composition of economies, a rise in leisure time could give a boost to recreational sectors.

13 May 2021
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