The world’s finance ministers and central bank governors gather in Washington this week for the biannual International Monetary Fund meetings. While there will not be the sense of alarm that dominated the convocations in the years after the financial crisis, the unfortunate reality is that the medium-term prospects for the global economy have not been so problematic for a long time.
The IMF in its current World Economic Outlook essentially endorses the “secular stagnation” hypothesis, noting that the real interest rate necessary to bring about enough demand for full employment is likely to remain depressed for a substantial period. This is made manifest by the fact that inflation is well below target throughout the developed world and is likely to decline further this year. Without robust growth in, and greater demand from, these markets, growth in emerging economies is likely to subside. That is even without considering the political challenges facing countries as diverse as Brazil, China, South Africa, Russia and Turkey.