Having Fiscal Space and Using It
Global growth in 2014 was lower than initially expected, continuing a pattern of disappointing outturns over the past several years. Growth picked up only marginally in 2014, to 2.6 percent, from 2.5 percent in 2013. Beneath these headline numbers, increasingly divergent trends are at work in major economies. While activity in the United States and the United Kingdom has gathered momentum as labor markets heal and monetary policy remains extremely accommodative, the recovery has been sputtering in the Euro Area and Japan as legacies of the financial crisis linger, intertwined with structural bottlenecks.
China, meanwhile, is undergoing a carefully managed slowdown. Disappointing growth in other developing countries in 2014 reflected weak external demand, but also domestic policy tightening, political uncertainties and supply-side constraints. Several major forces are driving the global outlook: soft commodity prices; persistently low interest rates but increasingly divergent monetary policies across major economies; and weak world trade. In particular, the sharp decline in oil prices since mid-2014 will support global activity and help offset some of the headwinds to growth in oil-importing developing economies. However, it will dampen growth prospects for oil-exporting countries, with significant regional repercussions.
Overall, global growth is expected to rise moderately, to 3.0 percent in 2015, and average about 3.3 percent through 2017. High-income countries are likely to see growth of 2.2 percent in 2015-17, up from 1.8 percent in 2014, on the back of gradually recovering labor markets, ebbing fiscal consolidation, and stilllow financing costs. In developing countries, as the domestic headwinds that held back growth in 2014 ease and the recovery in high-income countries slowly strengthens, growth is projected to gradually accelerate, rising from 4.4 percent in 2014 to 4.8 percent in 2015 and 5.4 percent by 2017. Lower oil prices will contribute to diverging prospects for oil-exporting and -importing countries, particularly in 2015...
This edition of the Global Economic Prospects also includes four essays that analyze key challenges and opportunities currently confronting developing countries: fiscal policy as a countercyclical policy tool; causes and implications of cheap oil; weak trade that fails to act as an engine of growth; and remittances as a means of steadying consumption during sudden stops.