Sunday, January 13, 2008

World Bank optimistic on growth outlook

I have placed myself unambiguously in the optimists' camp when it comes to the economic outlook for the world in 2008- I've said that we will see a sharp slowdown in the US but not a recession and a deceleration in the world economy that will still leave emerging markets in good shape.

The World Bank takes much the same line, I'm heartened to note, in its latest Global Economic Prospects. The world economy slowed from 3.9% in 2006 to 3.6% in 2007; the Bank sees a further slowdown to 3.3% in 2008- in other words, a soft landing. Growth in developing countries will moderate only somewhat over the next couple of years- in 2008, the Bank expects growth of 7.1%. For India, the Bank projects growth of 8.4% and 8.5% in 2008 and 2009 respectively, down marginally from 9% in 2007.

The Bank does see the risk of a US recession and its impact on the rest of the world but does not appear to think this is the likely scenario. It thinks that the impact of the housing sector on the US economy will be mitigated by export growth; it also thinks that the financial markets crisis will be contained as risks are not likely to be concentrated in a few institutions.

Why neither the banking channel nor the consumption channel is likely to lead on to a recession in the US is an issue I address in my latest ET column, Liquidity, not solvency the issue.

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