June 5, 2024

Growth Is Proving Surprisingly Resilient in the Face of High Interest Rates and Geopolitical Risks, Says EIU Report

In its latest global economic outlook report, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) "forecasts more fragmentation and regionalization in the world economy in 2024-28 as alliances tighten and competing blocs form." What is more, "The return of industrial policy, including sanctions and the provision of new incentives, will push firms to adopt more inefficient supply chains, stoke trade tensions in strategic sectors and make it difficult to compete across the global marketplace. These developments will drag on growth potential." The EIU expects "global real GDP will expand by 2.8% a year on average over the next five years—below the 3% of the 2010s, which was hardly a stellar decade for the global economy."

The UK-based organization adds that "In the near term, however, the global economy is showing resilience in the face of international conflict and higher interest rates. This mainly reflects the remarkable strength of the US economy, which is driven by strong household finances, a rising trend in manufacturing investment and a booming technology sector. Elsewhere, the picture is less dynamic but short of a downturn." Moreover, "Momentum in Europe will build gradually in 2024. Modest government stimulus in China is helping the economy to in the Middle East as the conflict in Gaza continues. Russia's invasion of Ukraine, now in its third year, shows no sign of resolution. Flash points in Asia, such as in relation to the South China Sea and Taiwan, will pose a persistent threat to the fragile stability that has developed in US-China relations. The diffusion of global power and uncertainty over the direction of US foreign policy underpins this rise in geopolitical risk."

Other key findings from the report include:
  • 2.5% global real GDP growth in 2024 (compared with 2.4% previously), meaning growth will be unchanged rather than slowing from 2023. Growth is proving surprisingly resilient in the face of high interest rates and geopolitical risks.
  • The change in global growth reflects another upward revision for US growth in 2024 to 2.2% (from 2% previously), upward revisions for several European economies that have pushed euro area growth to 1% (from 0.8%) and an upward revision for Brazil to 2.1% (from 1.8%).
  • Reduction of expectations for future monetary policy loosening, removing one 25-basis-point cut from the loosening cycles of both the Federal Reserve (the US central bank) and the European Central Bank in 2024-25. In contrast, the EIU now expects the Bank of England (the UK central bank) to cut quicker than previously forecast, lowering its rate to 3.5% by end-2025 (compared with 4.25% previously).
  • The US dollar effective exchange rate is now forecast to appreciate for a third consecutive year in 2024—the EIU previously expected a mild depreciation. This reflects a stronger depreciation in the yen's value than previously forecast and the fact that the EIU is no longer forecasting euro appreciation.

On the topic of how climate change and AI may threaten global convergence prospects, the report says:
The green transition and technological change will be among the major trends shaping global economic prospects over the next five years. In both cases, they seem set to diminish convergence prospects for developing economies. Poorer countries will be disproportionately affected by climate change and will struggle to secure financing to mitigate its impact. Although we are skeptical about the scale of productivity gains from artificial intelligence (AI), those improvements that do emerge will accrue mainly to developed economies; this will create challenges for countries aiming to move up the manufacturing and services value chains. We still expect some emerging markets to stand out, however, helped by being fairly insulated from geopolitical tensions and rising trade barriers. India is forecast to expand the fastest of any major economy in 2024-28, and Mexico will benefit from nearshoring trends.
Do you agree with the report's findings? How are you preparing your business for a rise in geopolitical risk?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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