Global growth is slowing down at the worst possible time

October 8, 2013

The latest projections for the global economy are out from the International Monetary Fund, and they're not good. Not good at all.

The fund, in its World Economic Outlook, now expects the world economy to grow only 2.9 percent this year, down from 3.2 percent it estimated as recently as July. The fund also marked down its forecast for 2014 global growth by two-tenths of a percent, to 3.6 percent.

Where is the weaker growth coming from? The United States gets part of the blame, with U.S. growth now tracking at only 1.6 percent for 2013. But there were even bigger downgrades of several key emerging markets, including Russia (a 1 percentage-point downgrade for 2013, to 1.5 percent) India (1.8 percentage-point downgrade, to 3.8 percent) and Mexico (1.7 percentage-point downgrade, to 1.2 percent growth).

Here's the full chart:

Combine tepid U.S. growth, a stagnant European economy, and slowing emerging markets, and you have the recipe for a global slowdown.

And note that even the soft U.S. growth forecast assumes that there will soon be a reasonable resolution of the government shutdown and debt ceiling showdown. "In the United States, the projections are based on the key assumption that the ongoing shutdown in the federal government will be short-lived and the debt ceiling will be raised on time," the IMF researchers write.

And there is little doubt that the IMF, which is holding its annual meetings this weekend, sees a scenario in which the United States defaults on its debts as an economic catastrophe. Said Managing Director Christine Lagarde in a speech last week, "The government shutdown is bad enough, but failure to raise the debt ceiling would be far worse, and could very seriously damage not only the U.S. economy, but the entire global economy."

The word you're looking for is "Oooof!"

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Ezra Klein · October 8, 2013