IMF warns of slow global economic growth


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its forecast for global growth again.

The IMF is predicting global growth will be 3.2 percent this year, compared to its previous estimate of 3.4 percent.

It is also warning of the dangers that could be posed by Britain leaving the EU and by the global backlash against free trade.

This is the fourth time the IMF has cut its growth forecasts in twelve months. The IMF say the global economy will grow by 3.5 percent next year, which is down 0.1 percent from its January estimate.

The IMFs chief economist Maurice Obstfeld says: "Global growth has been too slow for too long."

The chances have grown that the world's major economies could fall into recession, the IMF says. It rates the probability for a US recession at around 20 percent, just over 30 percent for the Eurozone and just over 40 percent for Japan.

The IMF is particularly worried about the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union. It says that could cause "severe regional and global damage by disrupting established trading relationships".

It is also worried by the anti-trade language being used in the US Presidential election and in Europe.

Mr Obstfeld says: "Across Europe the political consensus that once propelled the European project is fraying."

He says the backlash in the US to free trade threatens to halt or even reverse the post-war trend of ever more open trade.

The IMF says governments need to pursue policies that deregulate certain industries and increase workforce participation.

The continued slowdown in emerging markets and the tepid growth in developed economies are two more concerns for the IMF.

It is also worried by the volatility that has been seen this year in world markets.

The gloomy report from the IMF did not spook Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by triple digits in early trading, rising almost one percent to 17,709 points.

Investors were cheered by reports that Russia and Saudi Arabia have agreed on a deal to curb oil production, regardless of whether Iran participates.

West Texas oil hit a 2016 high of US$41.93 (NZ$60.62) and European Brent was up almost four percent to US$44.50 (NZ$64.34).

European stock markets closed higher, rising by almost one percent.

The New Zealand dollar is trading higher against the US dollar this morning, sitting at 69.08 US cents, just after 6am. It is slightly lower against the Australian dollar, at 90.06 AUS cents.

The Kiwi has gained against the pound, trading at 48.44 pence.