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The economic forecast has ‘darkened significantly’ in the last 3 months and a global recession can’t be ruled out, warns IMF’s chief

July 7, 2022, 12:07 AM UTC
Big waves batter an ocean pier under dark skies
The economic forecast has darkened
Karl Mondon/Bay Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Business conditions in the last three months have “darkened significantly,” and the risk of a global economic recession is on the rise, according to the head of the International Monetary Fund. 

“It’s going to be a tough ’22, but maybe even a tougher 2023,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told Reuters on Wednesday.

Georgieva cited the global spread of inflation, dramatic interest rate hikes by central banks, a slowdown in China’s economic growth and unprecedented sanctions against Russia among the factors affecting worldwide markets.

The IMF’s last outlook called for the global economy to expand by 3.6% this year, but Georgieva said the fund would be releasing a new estimate in the coming weeks that lowers the expected growth rate. The move would represent the IMF’s third downward revision of its estimate this year. 

“We are in choppy waters,” Georgieva told Reuters, noting during the interview that an economic recession is something that cannot be ruled out.

The IMF chief’s comments add to a growing chorus of warnings that have weighed on global stock markets. In June, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warned of storm clouds gathering, and a possible economic hurricane.

Among the issues rattling investors are rising prices for food, gas, and other goods, compounded by the war in Ukraine that is causing havoc in both markets. 

The U.S. inflation rate is the highest it has been since the early 1980s, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency’s consumer price index increased 8.6% year-over-year in May. The rising prices have become a politically fraught issue ahead of the U.S. midterm elections. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sought to point the blame at the Biden administration at an event in Kentucky this week, claiming that stimulus benefits contribute to the labor-shortage, driving prices up further.

However, inflation is soaring throughout Europe after experiencing record-setting energy prices amid Russia’s war in Ukraine that has limited several European countries’ access to fossil fuels and increased prices.    

Although market-watchers and investors have been sounding the recession alarm for months now, fears have increased in recent months as the US Federal Reserve has raised interest rates in its efforts to curb inflation.

A longer-lasting tightening of financial conditions would complicate the global economic outlook, Georgieva told Reuters, but added it was crucial to get surging prices under control.

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