A world recession is on the horizon – but trade wars aren’t entirely to blame

While the US-China standoff has had some impact, there are other concerns that are contributing to the likelihood of a serious global downturn

Hamish McRae
Sunday 13 October 2019 17:41
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Mike Pompeo handed cheese by protester in Italy who pleads with him to end Donald Trump's trade war

The R-word, recession, is stalking the land. This is not a British thing, or a European or American one – or a Chinese or Indian threat. It is a global one. It is the question confronting finance ministers and central bankers as they gather in Washington this coming week for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. It is the top story on financial publications: is the global economy sliding into the first recession since 2019?

And it is, or should be, the prime issue for anyone interested in the worlds of business, finance or economics.

So what do we know? Well, on Tuesday, the IMF produces its next World Economic Outlook, its twice-a-year overview of what is happening to the world economy and its forecasts for the coming year. It is most likely to cut its previous projection for 2019 from 3.2 per cent to below 3 per cent, the slowest growth since 2009. As for next year, it was predicting a pick-up. We’ll see about that. The IMF has been over-optimistic in the past, and while the emerging world taken as a whole is likely to continue growing, large swathes of the developed world may not. Germany is probably already in recession right now.

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