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Sharp, long-lasting slowdown to hit developing countries hard

07 February 20233 min reading

Global growth is slowing sharply in the face of elevated inflation, higher interest rates, reduced investment, and disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report.

Given fragile economic conditions, any new adverse development—such as higher-than-expected inflation, abrupt rises in interest rates to contain it, a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, or escalating geopolitical tensions—could push the global economy into recession. This would mark the first time in more than 80 years that two global recessions have occurred within the same decade.

The global economy is projected to grow by 1.7% in 2023 and 2.7% in 2024. The sharp downturn in growth is expected to be widespread, with forecasts in 2023 revised down for 95% of advanced economies and nearly 70% of emerging market and developing economies.

Over the next two years, per-capita income growth in emerging market and developing economies is projected to average 2.8%—a full percentage point lower than the 2010-2019 average.  “The crisis facing development is intensifying as the global growth outlook deteriorates,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Emerging and developing countries are facing a multi-year period of slow growth driven by heavy debt burdens and weak investment as global capital is absorbed by advanced economies faced with extremely high government debt levels and rising interest rates. Weakness in growth and business investment will compound the already-devastating reversals in education, health, poverty, and infrastructure and the increasing demands from climate change.”

Growth in advanced economies is projected to slow from 2.5% in 2022 to 0.5% in 2023. Over the past two decades, slowdowns of this scale have foreshadowed a global recession. In the United States, growth is forecast to fall to 0.5% in 2023—1.9 percentage points below previous forecasts and the weakest performance outside of official recessions since 1970. In 2023, euro-area growth is expected at zero percent—a downward revision of 1.9 percentage points. In China, growth is projected at 4.3% in 2023—0.9 percentage point below previous forecasts.

Excluding China, growth in emerging market and developing economies is expected to decelerate from 3.8% in 2022 to 2.7% in 2023, reflecting significantly weaker external demand compounded by high inflation, currency depreciation, tighter financing conditions, and other domestic headwinds.

By the end of 2024, GDP levels in emerging and developing economies will be roughly 6% below levels expected before the pandemic. Although global inflation is expected to moderate, it will remain above pre-pandemic levels.

REGIONAL OUTLOOKS:

East Asia and Pacific: Growth is expected to increase to 4.3% in 2023 and to 4.9% in 2024. 

Europe and Central Asia: Growth is expected to slow to 0.1% in 2023 before increasing to 2.8% in 2024. 

Latin America and the Caribbean: Growth is projected to slow to 1.3% in 2023 before recovering to 2.4% in 2024. 

Middle East and North Africa: Growth is expected to slow to 3.5% in 2023 and 2.7% in 2024. 

South Asia: Growth is projected to slow to 5.5% in 2023 before picking up to 5.8% in 2024. 

Sub-Saharan Africa: Growth is expected to be at 3.6% in 2023 and rise to 3.9% in 2024. 

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