IMF lowers global economic outlook

Updated: 2012-07-17 06:39


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WASHINGTON - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday cut the projected world  economic growth rates of this year and the next, as downside risks to the global growth loomed large, and it urged global policymakers to take bold action to boost growth.

The global economy would grow at 3.5 percent for the year of 2012, slightly lower than its estimate of 3.6 percent in April. It was forecast to pick up steam to expand 3.9 percent next year, 0.2 percentage point lower than its April prediction, the IMF said in its updated World Economic Outlook (WEO) report.

"In the past three months, the global recovery, which was not strong to start with, has shown signs of further weakness," said the IMF in its flagship report.

Advanced economies would grow at 1.4 percent this year, flat with the previous estimate. They would firm up to 1.9 percent in 2013, still 0.2 percentage point lower than its April prediction, the Washington-based global lender noted in its half-year checkup of the global economy.

The IMF trimmed its 2013 economic growth forecast of the eurozone to 0.7 percent, 0.2 percentage point lower than its previous estimate, while maintaining its projection of a 0.3 percent contraction for this year.

The European Union's new measures announced at the EU summit in late June were "steps in the right direction", the IMF said, adding that continued worsening of sovereign debt markets pressed for timely implementation of these measures and further progress on banking and fiscal union.

During an IMF press conference held on Monday,IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard urged European leaders to follow through on their commitment to bolster market confidence.

More efforts were needed from global policymakers to stabilize the financial market conditions and restore growth, as "time is running out," Jose Vinals, IMF's financial counselor, said at the press conference.

US economy was forecast to grow at 2 percent in 2012 and 2.3 percent in 2013, both of which were 0.1 percentage point lower than its April estimates, respectively.

The US economic growth rate was too low to make a significant dent in the high unemployment hovering at 8.2 percent, Blanchard said.

"In the United States, avoiding the fiscal cliff, promptly raising the debt ceiling, and developing a medium-term fiscal plan are of the essence," said the report.

The IMF also lowered the growth forecast for emerging economies, including China, against the backdrop of the simmering eurozone debt crisis and weaker economic activity in developed countries.

Emerging economies would expand 5.6 percent in 2012, lower than the IMF's April forecast of 5.7 percent. They would grow at 5.9 percent in 2013, 0.2 percentage point lower than its previous estimate.

"This partly reflects a weaker external environment, but domestic demand has also decelerated sharply in response to capacity constraints and policy tightening over the past year," said the report.

Policymakers in emerging market economies should be ready to cope with trade declines and the high volatility of capital flows, Blanchard cautioned.

China's economy would grow at 8 percent in 2012 and 8.5 percent in 2013, 0.2 percentage point and 0.3 percentage point lower than the April estimates, respectively.

The situations in emerging economies varied from country to country, and emerging economies in general should be able to make a "soft landing" through measures like increasing domestic demand, Blanchard added.