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IMF Warns G20 of Growth and Protectionism Risks, Policy Efforts Needed

IMF Warns G20 of Growth and Protectionism Risks, Policy Efforts Needed

Christian Lewis,

Talking Points:

  • IMF warns G20 leaders of economic growth risks
  • Group’s US outlook grows more murky but Europe, Asia and Emerging Markets look promising
  • Shift towards protectionism and low pace of economic reform gives reason for concern

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While the global economy is strengthening, the International Monetary Fund warned G20 leaders’ that policy efforts must evolve to deal with risks that remain to global growth. The economic note to leaders aimed to highlight key concerns before the summit in Germany on Friday and Saturday.

The IMF note acknowledged that the US economy went through a soft patch through the beginning of the year and reiterated the downgrade in forecasts compared to the April update. In contrast, it viewed many European and Asian countries’ GDP readings as having expanded much faster than expected. Additionally, the IMF noted that emerging market conditions have remained broadly supportive of growth even as US monetary policy has tightened.

For the world’s largest economy, growth concerns mingled with the general call by the group to turn away from protectionist listings of late. The supra-national group noted at the end of its highlights that ‘international cooperation…plays a crucial role in strengthening the global financial system.’ Some take this as a thinly veiled reference to the US which has taken or is considering actions to fulfill an ‘America first’ agenda.

Further, the IMF warned that the slow pace of economic reform and of private sector balance sheet repair pose as headwinds in the longer-term. Aging populations, slowing innovation, and slow progress in raising female labor force participation put a structural ceiling on future economic prospects as the current cyclical boost that starts to slow.

While downside risks still dominate the medium term, the IMF acknowledges that the cyclical recovery could prove stronger and more durable than initially expected. Yet policy uncertainty in advanced economies, financial sector vulnerabilities, and a sudden tightening in global financial conditions still point to signs of negative risk and repercussions.

The IMF finished with a warning about ideas to soften financial regulations put in place after the financial crisis. It stated, “a broad rollback of the strengthening of financial regulation and oversight achieved since the crisis could lead to lower capital and liquidity buffers or weakened supervisory stances, with negative repercussions for global financial stability.”

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