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Global Economy

On risk and black swans in developing countries

Carlos Végh's picture

In 2014, the World Bank issued a highly relevant and timely report titled Risk and Opportunity:  Managing Risk for Development. This report analyzed the growing number of heterogenous risks and opportunities affecting developing countries.  A clear challenge in finding a consistent risk management strategy stems from the sharp differences in the risks faced by developing countries; for example, commodity price shocks, financial crises, and natural disasters have all different defining characteristics.  While we could tailor risk management strategies to each one of these types of risks, not having the benefit of a unifying framework can lead to mistakes and mismanagement of the scarce resources available to developing nations to deal with these potentially disastrous events.  Five years after the publication of the report, in a time of growing macroeconomic headwinds for emerging markets and higher exposure to natural disasters, understanding the risks faced by these economies and how to effectively manage them continues to be a key policy challenge.

The Global Economic Outlook: Darkening Skies

Carlos Arteta's picture

Download the January 2019 Global Economic Prospects report.

Global growth sputtered in 2018 amid weakening trade and manufacturing, tighter financing conditions, and elevated policy uncertainties. 

Growth decelerated in almost 80 percent of advanced economies and in nearly half of emerging market and developing economies in 2018. This year, it is expected to slow further in a majority of advanced economies and in about a third of emerging market and developing economies. 

In all, global growth is predicted to moderate from 3.0 in 2018 to 2.9 percent in 2019 and an average of 2.8 percent in 2020-21, below previous forecasts. 

Risks of even slower-than-expected growth have become more acute. Financial market pressures and trade tensions could escalate, denting confidence and further setting back growth prospects in emerging market and developing countries. 

Here is a look at global economic prospects in five figures:

1. Global growth is moderating as trade and manufacturing lose momentum. The deceleration in global activity was more pronounced than previously expected in 2018, as reflected in softening export orders and industrial production growth. The slowdown in global trade came against the backdrop of ongoing trade tensions involving major economies. A. Global industrial production andnew export orders

A. Global industrial production and new export orders

The rich can stop feeling guilty – and start paying taxes

Davida Connon's picture

Tax avoidance by the world’s wealthiest people and largest companies is widespread. The excuse is that such avoidance is legal. Rich individuals and corporations look for jurisdictions that have low or no tax on personal or corporate income, on dividends, on capital or R&D expenditure. They base their business activities there, at least for the purposes of taxation.

First day on the job

Pinelopi Goldberg's picture
Also available in: Français 

After months of early NY Penn Station mornings trying to remember whether to get on the Amtrak north to New Haven or south to DC, I am thrilled to transition from incoming Chief Economist to Chief Economist. We have so many fascinating problems to tackle and I truly hope my experience and humble efforts will contribute to the Bank’s mission.

Will you be employed? Skills demanded by the changing nature of work

Shwetlena Sabarwal's picture

In 1997, Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess players in history, lost a chess match to a supercomputer called Deep Blue. Some years later Kasparov developed “advanced chess,” where a human and a computer team up to play against another human and computer. This mutation of chess is mutually beneficial: the human player has access to the computer’s ability to calculate moves, while the computer benefits from human intuition.  

Automation and innovation: Forces shaping the future of work

Simeon Djankov's picture

IT’S robots that mostly come to mind when you ask people about the future of work. Robots taking our jobs, to be specific. And it’s a reaction that’s two centuries old, in a replay of Lancashire weavers attacking looms and stocking frames at the start of the first Industrial Revolution. A secondary reaction, among a much smaller group, is the creation of new jobs in the coming fourth Industrial Revolution.

Professor Ed Glaeser at Harvard neatly summarizes this dichotomy in one figure:


 

Energy prices gain 7 percent in May–Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture
Energy commodity prices gained more than 7 percent in May, with advances in U.S. natural gas (+27 percent), coal (+12 percent) and oil (+7 percent), the World Bank’s Pink Sheet reported.

Non-energy prices changed little as a 1.4 percent gain in beverages was balanced by a 2 percent loss in raw materials and a 1.1 percent decline in Fertilizers.

Metals prices gained 0.4 percent, led by nickel (+3 percent) and aluminum (+2 percent).

Precious metals prices lost 2.1 percent, led by a similar decline in gold.

The Pink Sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.
 
Commodity prices advanced in May

Source: World Bank.

Trade growth: A surprising surge but precarious prospects

Cristina Constantinescu's picture
Also available in: Español | Français 

Trade unexpectedly rebounded in 2017, after a period of slow growth and despite recent uncertainty about trade policy.  Growth in the volume of trade in goods and services jumped to 4.3 percent in 2017—the fastest rate in 6 years (Figure 1). The recovery was widespread, with the largest contributions to growth coming from East Asia and the Euro area.  Data just released for the first quarter of 2018 suggests that the faster growth persists:  merchandise trade volumes grew by 4.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018 relative to the first quarter of 2017. What explains these developments?

Why commodity prices are rising, in nine charts

John Baffes's picture
Commodity prices strengthened in early 2018, supported by supply and demand factors, including accelerated global growth, which has lifted demand for most industrial commodities, and supply constraints affecting others.

Chart 1: Commodity prices are forecast to rise across the board

The energy price index is anticipated to rise 20 percent in 2018, largely on strengthening of oil prices. The increase is a 16-percentage point upward revision from October 2017. Metal prices are projected to increase 9 percent in 2018 due to a further pickup in demand. Agricultural prices are forecast to gain more than 2 percent.
 
2018 commodity price rise forecasts (percent change from 2017 to 2018)
Source: World Bank

Investment in emerging and developing economies: Accelerating but still subpar

Dana Vorisek's picture

After a prolonged slowdown, investment growth in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) picked up to 4.5 percent in 2017, and is projected to accelerate to 5.2 percent in 2018 and 2019 (investment refers to real gross fixed capital formation, public and private combined). Yet projected investment growth is below its long-term (1990–2017) average, inhibited by political uncertainty, trade risks, and expectations of rising interest rates. This will likely limit potential output growth and delay per-capita income convergence between EMDEs and advanced economies.

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