EM catch-up to slow as globalisation stalls

We expect most of the 2020s to be characterised by slow growth and very low inflation as persistently weak productivity growth leaves the developed world looking distinctly Japanese. But technological developments should ultimately bear fruit and we forecast that a pick-up in output per worker from late in the decade will help offset the decline in working age populations, keeping global growth close to 3%. Growth in emerging economies will continue to outpace that in the developed world, but not to the extent seen in the recent past. The process of reform and market liberalisation has stalled in many large EMs and some of the previous gains from opening up to international trade could be lost as the current wave of globalisation ends.
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Coronavirus fears have resurged, with some restrictions being reimposed in Europe. So far, the hit to activity seems fairly modest, but it will be enough to see economic recoveries in the euro-zone and parts of emerging Europe slow in Q4. And restrictions might be tightened further in some economies if an Omicron wave dials up the pressure on health services, implying bigger risks to GDP early next year.

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One possible upside of the current labour market shortages in developed economies is that they could push firms towards expanding output by raising investment and productivity instead of relying on cheap labour. However, any gains in productivity may not materialise quickly enough to prevent central banks from reacting to the pick-up in wage growth. In view of the wider interest, we have also made this Global Economics Focus available to clients of our Long Run Service.

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PMIs show some signs of supply shortages easing

November’s manufacturing PMIs suggest that global industrial production has continued to expand, albeit at a slower pace than earlier this year. There are tentative signs that supply disruptions may be easing, but from a very strained starting point, and virus developments may cause a renewed deterioration soon.

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Near-term inflation pressures mount

Near-term inflationary pressures appear to be building. Some of this reflects factors that are likely to be only temporary, such as the “reopening inflation” associated with the easing of virus-related restrictions. We also think the broad-based rally in commodity prices will go into reverse later this year. But there is a risk that shortages of commodities could constrain the production of goods and services, leading to a more broad-based rise in inflation. So far, there is most evidence of a rise in underlying price pressures in the US, which is consistent with our forecast of a prolonged upward shift in core inflation there.

17 May 2021

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Recovery to proceed apace despite rising risks to EMs

A rise in virus cases and some setbacks to vaccination programmes have pushed back the recoveries in some countries somewhat, but we still expect strong global growth of over 6% this year. The US will continue to lead the way thanks to its strong policy stimulus while the euro-zone will lag further behind than most expect. Downside risks are rising among the EMs, relating partly to struggles to get the virus under control in major economies, including India and Brazil. And while China has emerged strongly from the pandemic, growth there will soften as credit is restrained. This mixed outlook has some interesting implications for inflation: we see significant risks of a sustained pick-up in the US but a more modest threat elsewhere.

23 April 2021

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Inflation is about to jump, but will the rise persist?

Inflation will rise sharply in every major economy in the months ahead, driven by a rebound in energy inflation, tax changes, and supply shortages. On average, CPI inflation in the advanced economies looks set to rise from 1.1% in February to 2.6% in May. But while the increase will probably prove transitory in the euro-zone, we expect a higher rate of core inflation to persist in the US. The US recovery is already relatively advanced, and the economy is set to benefit from another round of fiscal stimulus. The labour market looks tighter than that in the euro-zone and there is firmer evidence of rising input costs being passed on to consumers. What’s more, the Fed has made a more decisive shift towards tolerating higher inflation than the ECB, which has served to boost inflation expectations further.

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