The world economy is still slowing, the International Monetary Fund warned Tuesday, but a pickup is on the horizon — growth is expected to recover next year unless “policy missteps” get in the way.
The organization, which monitors emerging risks and lends to countries in distress, cut its growth forecast for 2019 to 3.3%, down from 3.5% in January’s edition of the World Economic Outlook.
Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s executive director, said the global economy is in a “delicate moment.”
“Only two years ago, 75% of the global economy experienced an upswing,” Lagarde said, according to the text of a speech she’s due to give at the US Chamber of Commerce. “For this year, we expect 70% of the global economy to experience a slowdown in growth.”
The downward revision came in part from a sharp drop in global trade volumes in recent months following an artificial run-up in imports and exports in 2018 in advance of tariffs imposed by the United States. Adding further duties, the report said, could prevent the global economy from stabilizing.
“The main priority is for countries to resolve trade disagreements cooperatively, without raising distortionary barriers that would further destabilize a slowing global economy,” the report read.
President Donald Trump has recently pulled back on his threat to impose auto tariffs on a handful of countries, but maintains that he may use tariffs as leverage to push Mexico to do more to keep Central American migrants from reaching America’s southern border. National Economic Council chairman Larry Kudlow told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that further tariffs are far from a sure thing.
“He’s just issuing a warning,” Kudlow said, of Trump. “If you know this president as I do, you better listen to him.”
The authors of the IMF report did take heart in a move toward patience on behalf of central banks, particularly the US Federal Reserve, which signaled in March that it would hold off raising interest rates for the remainder of the year. The IMF stuck to its projection of 3.6% growth in 2020.
Amid a global manufacturing malaise that seemed to be spreading to the United States, and a run of negative economic data, some analysts had begun talking about a return to rate cuts by the end of 2019, which Trump also called for last week. A robust employment report for US hiring in March, however, took the edge off those concerns.
“Last week’s releases provide some reassurance that the world economy is not falling off a cliff, which had seemed a plausible, if relatively small, risk as recently as a month or so ago,” wrote Capital Economics chief economist Neil Shearing in a note to clients on Monday.
However, the IMF also signaled caution about the buildup of risky loans taken out by US companies as an area of concern. If interest rates were to rise suddenly, all that leverage could make for a much more severe downturn when the growth cycle comes to an end.
– CNN’s Donna Borak contributed to this report.