Following a strong rebound in 2021, the global economy is entering a pronounced slowdown amid fresh threats from COVID-19 variants and a rise in inflation, debt, and income inequality that could endanger the recovery in emerging and developing economies, according to the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report.
Global growth is expected to slow from 5.5% in 2021 to 4.1% in 2022 and 3.2% in 2023 as pent-up demand dissipates and as fiscal and monetary support is unwound across the world.
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant indicates that the pandemic will likely continue to disrupt economic activity in the near term. In addition, a notable deceleration in major economies – including the US and China – will weigh on external demand in emerging and developing economies.
At a time when governments in many developing economies lack the policy space to support activity if needed, new COVID-19 outbreaks, persistent supply-chain bottlenecks and inflationary pressures, and elevated financial vulnerabilities in large swathes of the world could increase the risk of a hard landing.
“The world economy is simultaneously facing COVID-19, inflation, and policy uncertainty, with government spending and monetary policies in uncharted territory. Rising inequality and security challenges are particularly harmful for developing countries,” said World Bank Group President, David Malpass. “Putting more countries on a favourable growth path requires concerted international action and a comprehensive set of national policy responses.