TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Monday, May 20, 2024

Economic Headwinds Mount as Leaders Weigh Costs of Confronting Russia

Economic Headwinds Mount as Leaders Weigh Costs of Confronting Russia

The world economy is heading into a potentially grim period as rising costs, shortages of food and other commodities and Russia’s continuing invasion of Ukraine threaten to slow economic growth and bring about a painful global slump.
Two years after the coronavirus pandemic emerged and left much of the globe in a state of paralysis, policymakers are grappling with ongoing challenges, including clogged supply chains, lockdowns in China and the prospect of an energy crisis as nations wean themselves off Russian oil and gas. Those colliding forces have some economists starting to worry about a global recession as different corners of the world find their economies battered by events.

Finding ways to avoid a slowdown while continuing to exert pressure on Russia for its war in Ukraine will be the primary focus of finance ministers from the Group of 7 nations who are convening in Bonn, Germany, this week.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said that elevated food and energy prices were depressing both spending and economic output, creating what she called “stagflationary effects” all around the world.

“This is an environment that is filled with risks, both with respect to inflation, and also potential slowdowns,” Ms. Yellen said.

The economic challenges that governments around the globe are facing could begin to chip away at the united front that Western nations have maintained in confronting Russia’s aggression, including sweeping sanctions aimed at crippling its economy and efforts to reduce reliance on Russian energy.

Policymakers are balancing delicate trade-offs as they consider how to isolate Russia, support Ukraine and keep their own economies afloat at a moment when prices are rising rapidly and growth is slowing.

Central banks around the world are beginning to raise interest rates to help tame rapid inflation, moves that will temper economic growth by raising borrowing costs and could lead to higher unemployment. Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, last week signaled a possible increase in interest rates in July, which would be the ECB’s first such move in more than a decade.

Global growth is expected to slow to 3.6 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund projected in April, down from the 4.4 percent it forecast before both Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s zero-Covid lockdowns.

On Monday, the European Commission released its own revised economic forecast, showing a slowdown in growth to 2.7 percent this year from the 4 percent estimated in its winter report. At the same time, inflation is hitting record levels and is expected to average 6.8 percent for the year. Britain’s annual inflation rate jumped to 9 percent last month, the highest in 40 years, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday. And some Eastern European countries face even steeper price increases, with Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Lithuania all facing inflation rates in excess of 11 percent.

Pressures on global supply chains also worsened in April as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and pandemic lockdowns in China made it more difficult for companies to source parts and products globally, a supply chain index published Wednesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed. That could further exacerbate shortages and price increases.

Eswar Prasad, the former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division, summed up the challenges facing the G7 nations, saying that its “policymakers are caught in the bind that any tightening of screws on Russia by limiting energy purchases worsens inflation and hurts growth in their economies.”

“Such sanctions, for all the moral justification underpinning them, are exacting an increasingly heavy economic toll that in turn could have domestic political consequences for G7 leaders,” he added.

Still, the United States is expected to press its allies to continue isolating Russia and to deliver more economic aid to Ukraine despite their own economic troubles. Officials are also expected to discuss the merits of imposing tariffs on Russian energy exports ahead of a proposed European oil embargo that the United States fears could send prices skyrocketing by limiting supplies. Policymakers will also discuss whether to press countries such as India to roll back export restrictions on crucial food products that are worsening already high prices.

Against this backdrop is the growing urgency to help sustain Ukraine’s economy, which the International Monetary Fund has said needs an estimated $5 billion a month in aid to keep government operations running. The U.S. Congress is close to passing a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine that will cover some of these costs, but Ms. Yellen has called on her European counterparts to provide more financial help.

Finance ministers are expected to consider other measures for providing Ukraine with relief.

There is increasing interest in the idea of seizing some of the approximately $300 billion in Russian central bank reserves that the United States and its allies have immobilized and using that money to help fund Ukraine’s reconstruction. Treasury Department officials are considering the idea, but they have trepidations about the feasibility of such a move and the possibility that it would raise doubts about the United States as a safe place to store assets.

On Wednesday, Ms. Yellen dismissed the likelihood of such a move when she said liquidating Russian assets is “not something that is legally permissible in the United States.”

Ahead of the G7 meeting this week, American officials saw the economic challenges facing Europe firsthand. During a stop to meet with top officials in Warsaw on Monday, Ms. Yellen acknowledged the toll that the conflict in Ukraine is having on the economy of Poland, where officials have raised interest rates sharply to combat inflation. Poland has absorbed more than three million Ukrainian refugees and has faced a cutoff in gas exports from Russia.

“They have to deal with a tighter monetary policy just as countries around the world and the United States are,” Ms. Yellen told reporters. “At a time when Poland is committed to large expenditures to shore up its security, it is a difficult balancing act.”

A downturn may be unavoidable in some countries, and economists are weighing multiple factors as they gauge the likelihood of a recession, including a severe slowdown in China related to continuing Covid lockdowns.

The European Commission, in its economic report, said the E.U. “is first in line among advanced economies to take a hit,” because of its proximity to Ukraine and its dependence on Russian energy. At the same time, it has absorbed more than five million refugees in less than three months.

Deutsche Bank analysts said this week that they thought a recession in Europe was unlikely. By contrast, Carl B. Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, warned in a note on Monday that with consumer demand and output falling, “Germany’s economy is headed for recession.” Analysts at Capital Economics predicted that Germany, Italy and Britain are likely to face recessions, meaning there is a “reasonable chance” that the broader eurozone will also face one, defined as two consecutive quarters of falling output.

Vicky Redwood, senior economic adviser at Capital Economics, warned that more aggressive interest rate increases by central banks could lead to a global contraction.

“If inflation expectations and inflation prove more stubborn than we expect, and interest rates need to rise further as a result, then a recession most probably will be on the cards,” Ms. Redwood wrote in a note to clients this week.
Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
0:00
0:00
Close
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×