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Thursday, 19 January 2012

World Bank warning of another global recession; Mier: Worse to come!

The World Development Report 2011
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(Shanghai Daily)
THE World Bank is warning developing countries to prepare for the "real" risk that an escalation in the eurozone debt crisis could tip the world into a slump on a par with the global downturn in 2008/09.

In a report sharply cutting its world economic growth expectations, the World Bank said Europe was probably already in recession. If the debt crisis deepened, global economic forecasts would be significantly lower.

"The sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone appears to be contained," Justin Lin, chief economist for the World Bank, said in Beijing yesterday. "However, the risk of a global freezing-up of the markets as well as a global crisis similar to what happened in September 2008 is real."

The World Bank predicted world economic growth of 2.5 percent in 2012 and 3.1 percent in 2013, well below the 3.6 percent growth for each year projected in June.

"We think it is now important to think through not only slower growth but sharp deteriorations, as a prudent measure," said Hans Timmer, the bank's director of development prospects.

The report said if the eurozone debt crisis escalates, global growth would be about 4 percentage points lower. It forecast that high-income economies would expand just 1.4 percent in 2012 as the eurozone shrinks 0.3 percent, sharp revisions from growth forecasts last June of 2.7 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.

It cut its forecast for growth in developing economies to 5.4 percent for 2012 from its previous forecast of 6.2 percent.

It saw a slight pick up in growth in developing economies in 2013 to 6 percent. But the report said threats to growth were rising.

It cited failure so far to resolve high debts and deficits in Japan and the United States and slow growth in other high-income countries.

On top of that, political tensions in the Middle East and North Africa could disrupt oil supplies and add another blow to global prospects.

China's growth - forecast in the report at 8.4 percent - could help bolster imports and gives it "big fiscal space" to respond to changing conditions, Lin said.

But the World Bank report added: "No country and no region will escape the consequences of a serious downturn." 

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Mier: Worse to come


Eurozone crisis, slower China growth likely to hurt economy

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) expects gross domestic product (GDP) for 2011 to be 4.9% but to decelerate to 3.7% in 2012.

MIER executive director Dr Za-kariah Abdul Rashid said this year would not be as bad as 2008 or 2009 but might not be as good as 2011, pulled down by the eurozone crisis as well as slower growth in China's economy.

He said if the eurozone crisis turned worse, the country's economy might be affected and the GDP could reach the 2008/2009 level.

“There's some avenue if the Government wants to spur the economy by spending on development. It will depend on the private sector whether our economy turns out to be strong this year,” Zakariah said at a briefing to present Malaysia's economic outlook.

Zakariah: ‘The private sector has done a lot for the economy.’

“However, the private sector has done a lot for the economy. We can't expect much more from the private sector.”

He said MIER had previously forecast 2011 GDP growth to be 4.6% but revised it upwards after looking at the latest numbers and the crisis in the eurozone.

“Growth in the last quarter of 2011 is expected to be much lower on account of external developments. The latest monthly economic indicators are already suggesting that,” MIER said in a report.

It added that economic growth would likely get “bumpier” in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, Zakariah said that there was “room for 25 to 50 basis-point downward revision” in the overnight policy rate (OPR). However, he said the revision would depend on the situation and had to be done vigilantly.

Based on MIER's Business Conditions Index (BCI), the business sentiment had worsened from the second quarter of last year. The BCI fell to 96.6 in the fourth quarter of 2011, the first time it had dipped below the 100 threshold since the fourth quarter of 2010.

“It usually shows a contraction mode when the index sinks below 100. The BCI had been dropping since the second quarter of 2011,” Zakariah said.

Sales, local and foreign orders, as well as capacity utilisation were significantly lower in the fourth quarter of 2011, with companies expecting to scale back production over the next three months as inventory builds up.

Concurrently, consumer sentiment also fell to a two-year low of 106.3 on the Consumer Sentiments Index as household incomes lost momentum, and finances and job became a growing concern.

Zakariah said the index pointed out that consumers were also holding on to purchasing big tickets items as spending plans took a backseat.

Separately, Zakariah said it would be better for the Government to call for general elections early as uncertainty over the nation's political future would hurt the economy.

He said private investors were currently holding back investments on concerns that government policies could change due to the political climate here.

“If you ask me as an economist, I would rather see the problem solved once and for all. The earlier they settle the political matters, the better, we can focus on the economy.

“Right now everything is still hanging. People are postponing because of the elections. So if they settle it once and for all and immediately, it would be better,” Zakariah said.  

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