Inflation. Trade Barriers. Recession. Economics experts takes а stab аt what could gо wrong next. As ever, it’s quite а lot. Their responses have been edited fоr length аnd clarity.
What’s the biggest economic risk ahead?
Chief Asia economist at Morgan Stanley
The biggest risk is a US recession. Even if it’s half as deep as the past two recessions, that would be a major problem for the world. The other risk is that China continues to decelerate and we see a big step down in its growth rate that’s long-lasting. It’s an even bigger risk if both happen at the same time.
Saudi Arabia’s finance minister
Fragmentation poses the greatest threat to the global economy. Economic integration has slowed, while trade restrictions have surged, impeding the smooth movement of goods, services and capital. This alarming trend undermines economic cooperation and growth, as supply chains are disrupted, market access is reduced, and the costs of goods and services increase for nations and societies.
Former International Monetary Fund chief economist, now at the Peterson Institute
The fight against inflation may last for a while, may well lead to a recession here and there, but seems highly winnable. Over the medium run, the main issue is clearly geopolitical tension, with clear economic implications, from subsidy wars, tariff wars, export restrictions. More like a slow cancer than a heart attack.
Former head of global economics at Bank of America Corp.
The biggest and hardest-to-quantify risk is a major geopolitical shock. As US Treasury Secretary Yellen recently argued, an abrupt decoupling of China from the US and other advanced economies would be a major shock to the economy. Russia’s attack on Ukraine also carries major risks. The biggest risk remains sticky high inflation. The progress in the past six months has been encouraging, but the hard part of getting close to target still lies ahead. There is a lot of talk about a tech-driven productivity boom. But history shows it is very hard to predict which technological innovations will have a major impact on the economy.
Alicia Garcia Herrero
Chief Asia Pacific economist at Natixis SA
The biggest risk facing the global economy is the uncoordinated industrial policies in China, the US and increasingly even Europe that aim at ensuring that the value added remains at home through big subsidies. The emerging and developing world is bound to suffer enormously, as it won’t have the means to follow suit with subsidies, so it will remain cut out of major industrial policy. The dream of becoming a major new manufacturing hub in the developing world, as China was, becomes much more unlikely.
Dean at the School of Economics at Fudan University
The biggest risk for the global economy in the medium and long term would arise from the huge costs of a forced breakdown of highly integrated economies and of supply chains in particular. These changes in adjustment costs would bring about persistently upward pressure on inflation while slowing the growth of the world economy.
Chief economist at Challenger Ltd. and former Reserve Bank of Australia official
We can easily end up with inflation remaining above central banks’ targets. Therefore, interest rates will have to remain higher. If you have this environment where you have high inflation, high interest rates, weak economic growth—essentially a drawn-out recession—that’s an environment where any financial instability could cause some bank failures or other pockets of interest-rate risks that we haven’t appreciated yet. It’s certainly a plausible scenario, if not my main forecast.
Chairman and CEO of Korea Investment Corp.
The most important risk is the decoupling of the US and China. If it proceeds like the Cold War, it would have a devastating impact on all the economies. During the first Cold War, Russia had a strong military, but its economy wasn’t that strong. China is different. Its economy is already equal to 70% of US GDP. So if the two countries are decoupling or de-risking, it will have a devastating impact on the world economy.
Professor of economics at Keio University and a former Bank of Japan policy board member
I am concerned about the uncertainties of monetary policy in the US and other advanced economies grappling with high inflation. Headline inflation is expected to decrease steadily, but the persistence of core inflation in these countries may postpone the timeline for reaching the target of 2%. Central banks, including the US Federal Reserve, may find themselves compelled to raise policy rates more than what they currently project to uphold their credibility.
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