The Economy

IMF Cuts 2015 Growth Forecast to 3.1%

Downside risks include declining commodity prices, depreciating emerging market currencies, and increasing financial market volatility.
Matthew HellerOctober 6, 2015

The International Monetary Fund has cut its global economic growth forecast for this year, reflecting a continuing slowdown in emerging markets and a weaker recovery in advanced economies.

In its latest World Economic Outlook, the fund now projects growth at 3.1% for 2015 as a whole, 0.2 percentage point below its forecast in July. Next year, it expects the world economy to expand 3.6%, down from the 3.8% projected in July.

“Six years after the world economy emerged from its broadest and deepest postwar recession, the holy grail of robust and synchronized global expansion remains elusive,” IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld said in a news release.

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“Despite considerable differences in country-specific outlooks, the new forecasts mark down expected near-term growth marginally but nearly across the board. Moreover, downside risks to the world economy appear more pronounced than they did just a few months ago,” he said.

Those risks, particularly for emerging market and developing economies, include declining commodity prices, depreciating emerging market currencies, and increasing financial market volatility.

“[T]he liftoff of U.S. policy rates from the zero lower bound is likely to herald some further tightening of external financial conditions,” the IMF said, and the cross-border repercussions of the slowdown in China “appear larger than previously envisaged.”

The U.S. Federal Reserve has indicated it will raise interest rates before the end of this year after keeping them at near-zero since the Great Recession.

The IMF forecasts that growth in advanced economies will increase modestly to 2% this year and 2.2%, reflecting primarily a strengthening of the modest recovery in the eurozone and a return to positive growth in Japan, supported by declining oil prices, accommodative monetary policy, and, in some cases, currency depreciation.

“Medium-term prospects remain subdued, reflecting a combination of lower investment, unfavorable demographics, and weak productivity growth,” the fund said.

In emerging markets and developing economies, growth is projected to decline to 4.0% in 2015 from 4.6% in 2014. “Geopolitical tensions and domestic strife in a number of countries remain high, with immense economic and social costs,” the IMF noted.