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By Citizen Reporter


Inflation: Bleak outlook for global economic growth projections – KPMG

The report warns an acceleration in inflation is putting pressure on households’ finances and businesses’ margins.

Growing geopolitical uncertainty and the acceleration in inflation are set to take their toll on global economic growth projections, according to the latest KPMG Global Economic Outlook.

The global organisation is forecasting GDP growth of 1.9% in 2023, down from 2.7% in 2022, as the world grapples with a multitude of economic and political challenges.

Weaker growth could see inflation moderate to 4.7% in 2023 after averaging 7.6% in 2022.

The report warns inflationary pressure is putting pressure on households’ finances and businesses’ margins, while leading central banks to tighten monetary policy aggressively, with recession once again on the horizon in many economies.

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Rising costs are taking their toll on consumers, with a cost-of-living crisis putting a significant dent on households’ purchasing power.

Consumer confidence has taken a big knock across most economies and spending are following suit, causing overall economic growth to weaken.

Yael Selfin, Chief Economist at KPMG in the UK, said: “The need for fiscal support is likely to stoke more inflation in the medium term, placing fiscal policy actions at odds with the aims of central banks in meeting their mandates.

“Our latest forecast suggests that tightening monetary policy will moderate inflation, but inflationary pressures are likely to linger for longer. That is why central banks are likely to be more hawkish in their response to what could be a relatively short-lived burst in inflation.

”A very aggressive cycle of monetary tightening across the world could impose high costs for the global economy as it emerges from another synchronised shock. Other policy tools and further reforms to open up supply could be deployed to ease the burden on central banks.”

Energy uncertainty driven by conflict in Ukraine

Although inflationary pressures were already present as economies reopened from Covid-19, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia added an extra strain.

A range of commodities exported by the region is seeing their price rise significantly.

More recently, some prices have moderated somewhat and supplies have adjusted while demand is easing as the economy slows.

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Energy prices have been at the centre of the inflationary surge, although oil prices have moderated recently, which contributed to minor ease in annual inflation figures in many countries recently.

Nevertheless, the price of gas across many regions remains heavily impacted by the conflict in Ukraine, with the rush to secure shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for winter causing not just European but also Asian gas prices to spike recently.

It is still uncertain whether sufficient gas supply will be forthcoming over the winter months.

This could prove a significant blow to the short-term outlook of some European economies which are more reliant on Russian supply.

Supply chain and labour market issues adding to uncertainty

The combination of supply chain bottlenecks, generous government spending, tight labour markets and a commodity shock triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have together caused inflation to shoot well above central banks’ target across many developed economies.

KPMG’s Global Economic Outlook expects inflation to moderate significantly from the middle of next year, as the energy shock is no longer reflected in the year-on-year inflation calculation.

However, the world could be entering an environment that is structurally more inflationary, as production costs – from materials to energy and labour – remain elevated.

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Faced with inflation well above target, an immediate concern for most central banks is that inflation expectations stay high, while their credibility in fighting inflation is lost.

That is why central banks are likely to be more hawkish in their response to what could be a relatively short-lived burst in inflation, with markets pencilling in aggressive rate rises over the coming months.

Moreover, if inflationary pressures are to become embedded, interest rates may stay at higher levels than what we saw in the past decade even after the current spike in inflation subsides.

This would represent a significant shift in monetary policy in a relatively short space of time.

An uneven recovery from Covid

With the easing of Covid restrictions across the majority of the world, there was cautious optimism of an international post-pandemic bounce.

However, KPMG’s analysis reveals economic recovery was uneven and relatively short-lived before new challenges including supply-chain issues, and subsequently, the war in Ukraine began.

There are also fears a potential spike in cases during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months could see a return to some restrictions, causing more disruptions to production and economic output – particularly in China, which continues to implement a zero-Covid policy.

A rise in cases could also see a tighter labour market and increased pressure on health services, as well as an additional burden on public finances.

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