Connect with us

Spread & Containment

A Hobbled Recovery Along Entrenched Fault Lines

By Gita Gopinath عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский The global recovery continues amid increasing uncertainty, more complex policy trade-offs. The global recovery continues but momentum has weakened, hobbled…

Published

on

By Gita Gopinath

عربي中文Español, Français日本語Português, Русский

The global recovery continues amid increasing uncertainty, more complex policy trade-offs.

The global recovery continues but momentum has weakened, hobbled by the pandemic. Fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant, the recorded global COVID-19 death toll has risen close to 5 million and health risks abound, holding back a full return to normalcy. Pandemic outbreaks in critical links of global supply chains have resulted in longer than expected supply disruptions, feeding inflation in many countries. Overall, risks to economic prospects have increased and policy trade-offs have become more complex.

The dangerous divergence in economic prospects across countries remains a major concern.

Compared to our July forecast, the global growth projection for 2021 has been revised down marginally to 5.9 percent and is unchanged for 2022 at 4.9 percent. However, this modest headline revision masks large downgrades for some countries. The outlook for the low-income developing country group has darkened considerably due to worsening pandemic dynamics. The downgrade also reflects more difficult near-term prospects for the advanced economy group, in part due to supply disruptions. Partially offsetting these changes, projections for some commodity exporters have been upgraded on the back of rising commodity prices. Pandemic-related disruptions to contact-intensive sectors have caused the labor market recovery to significantly lag the output recovery in most countries.

The dangerous divergence in economic prospects across countries remains a major concern. Aggregate output for the advanced economy group is expected to regain its pre-pandemic trend path in 2022 and exceed it by 0.9 percent in 2024. By contrast, aggregate output for the emerging market and developing economy group (excluding China) is expected to remain 5.5 percent below the pre-pandemic forecast in 2024, resulting in a larger setback to improvements in their living standards.

These divergences are a consequence of the “great vaccine divide” and large disparities in policy support. While almost 60 percent of the population in advanced economies are fully vaccinated and some are now receiving booster shots, about 96 percent of the population in low-income countries remain unvaccinated. Furthermore, many emerging market and developing economies, faced with tighter financing conditions and a greater risk of de-anchoring inflation expectations, are withdrawing policy support more quickly despite larger shortfalls in output.

Supply disruptions pose another policy challenge. On the one hand, pandemic outbreaks and climate disruptions have resulted in shortages of key inputs and lowered manufacturing activity in several countries. On the other hand, these supply shortages, alongside the release of pent-up demand and the rebound in commodity prices, have caused consumer price inflation to increase rapidly in, for example, the United States, Germany, and many emerging market and developing economies. Food prices have increased the most in low-income countries where food insecurity is most acute, adding to the burdens of poorer households and raising the risk of social unrest.

The October 2021 Global Financial Stability Report highlights another challenge to monetary policy from increased risk-taking in financial markets and rising fragilities in the nonbank financial institutions sector.

Policy priorities

A principal common factor behind these complex challenges is the continued grip of the pandemic on global society. The foremost policy priority is therefore to vaccinate at least 40 percent of the population in every country by end-2021 and 70 percent by mid-2022. This will require high-income countries to fulfill existing vaccine dose donation pledges, coordinate with manufacturers to prioritize deliveries to COVAX in the near-term and remove trade restrictions on the flow of vaccines and their inputs. At the same time, closing the $20 billion residual grant funding gap for testing, therapeutics and genomic surveillance will save lives now and keep vaccines fit for purpose. Looking ahead, vaccine manufacturers and high-income countries should support the expansion of regional production of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries through financing and technology transfers.

Another urgent global priority is the need to slow the rise in global temperatures and contain the growing adverse effects of climate change. This will require more ambitious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). A policy strategy that includes an international carbon price floor adjusted to country circumstances, a green public investment and research subsidy push, and compensatory, targeted transfers to households can help advance the energy transition in an equitable way. Just as importantly, advanced countries need to deliver on their earlier promises of mobilizing $100 billion of annual climate financing for developing countries.

In addition, concerted multilateral efforts to ensure adequate international liquidity for constrained economies, and faster implementation of the G20 common framework to restructure unsustainable debt, would help limit divergences across countries. Building on the historic $650 billion Special Drawing Right (SDR) allocation, the IMF is calling on countries with strong external positions to voluntarily channel their SDRs into the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust. Furthermore, it is exploring the establishment of a Resilience and Sustainability Trust, which would provide long-term funding to support countries’ investment in sustainable growth.

At the national level, the overall policy mix should be calibrated to local pandemic and economic conditions, aiming for maximum sustainable employment while protecting the credibility of policy frameworks. With fiscal space becoming more limited in many economies, health care spending should continue to be prioritized, while lifelines and transfers will need to become increasingly targeted, reinforced by retraining and support for reallocation. As health outcomes improve, policy emphasis should increasingly focus on long-term structural goals.

With public debt levels at record highs, all initiatives should be rooted in credible medium-term frameworks, backed by feasible revenue and spending measures. The October 2021 Fiscal Monitor demonstrates that such credibility can lower financing costs for countries and increase fiscal space in the near-term.

Monetary policy will need to walk a fine line between tackling inflation and financial risks and supporting the economic recovery. We project, amidst high uncertainty, that headline inflation will likely return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2022 for the group of advanced economies and emerging and developing economies. There is, however, considerable heterogeneity across countries with upside risks for some, like the United States, United Kingdom, and some emerging market and developing economies. While monetary policy can generally look through transitory increases in inflation, central banks should be prepared to act quickly if the risks of rising inflation expectations become more material in this uncharted recovery. Central banks should chart contingent actions, announce clear triggers, and act in line with that communication.

More generally, clarity and consistent actions can go a long way toward avoiding unnecessary policy accidents that roil financial markets and set back the global recovery—ranging from a failure to lift the US debt ceiling in a timely fashion to disorderly debt restructurings in China’s property sector to escalating cross-border trade and technology tensions.

Recent developments have made it abundantly clear that we are all in this together and the pandemic is not over anywhere until it is over everywhere. If COVID-19 were to have a prolonged impact—into the medium-term—it could reduce global GDP by a cumulative $5.3 trillion over the next five years relative to our current projection. It does not have to be this way. The global community must step up efforts to ensure equitable vaccine access for every country, overcome vaccine hesitancy where there is adequate supply, and secure better economic prospects for all.

 

We want to hear from you!

Click here for a 3-question survey on IMFBlog.

 

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

Huge Dock Worker Protests In Italy, Fears Of Disruption, As Covid ‘Green Pass’ Takes Effect

Huge Dock Worker Protests In Italy, Fears Of Disruption, As Covid ‘Green Pass’ Takes Effect

Following Israel across the Mediterranean being the first country in the world to implement an internal Covid passport allowing only vaccinated citize

Published

on

Huge Dock Worker Protests In Italy, Fears Of Disruption, As Covid 'Green Pass' Takes Effect

Following Israel across the Mediterranean being the first country in the world to implement an internal Covid passport allowing only vaccinated citizens to engage in all public activity, Italy on Friday implemented its own 'Green Pass' in the strictest and first such move for Europe

The fully mandatory for every Italian citizen health pass "allows" entry into work spaces or activities like going to restaurants and bars, based on one of the following three conditions that must be met: 

  • proof of at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine

  • or proof of recent recovery from an infection

  • or a negative test within the past 48 hours

Via AFP

It's already being recognized in multiple media reports as among "the world's strictest anti-COVID measures" for workers. First approved by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi's cabinet a month ago, it has now become mandatory on Oct.15.

Protests have been quick to pop up across various parts of the country, particularly as workers who don't comply can be fined 1,500 euros ($1,760); and alternately workers can be forced to take unpaid leave for refusing the jab. CNN notes that it triggered "protests at key ports and fears of disruption" on Friday, detailing further:

The largest demonstrations were at the major northeastern port of Trieste, where labor groups had threatened to block operations and around 6,000 protesters, some chanting and carrying flares, gathered outside the gates.

    Around 40% of Trieste's port workers are not vaccinated, said Stefano Puzzer, a local trade union official, a far higher proportion than in the general Italian population.

    Workers at the large port of Trieste have effectively blocked access to the key transport hub...

    As The Hill notes, anyone wishing to travel to Italy anytime soon will have to obtain the green pass: "The pass is already required in Italy for both tourists and nationals to enter museums, theatres, gyms and indoor restaurants, as well as to board trains, buses and domestic flights."

    The prime minister had earlier promoted the pass as a way to ensure no more lockdowns in already hard hit Italy, which has had an estimated 130,000 Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

    Meanwhile, the requirement of what's essentially a domestic Covid passport is practically catching on in other parts of Europe as well, with it already being required to enter certain hospitality settings in German and Greece, for example. Some towns in Germany have reportedly begun requiring vaccination proof just to enter stores. So likely the Italy model will soon be enacted in Western Europe as well.

    Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 07:35

    Read More

    Continue Reading

    Spread & Containment

    Tracking Global Hunger & Food Insecurity

    Tracking Global Hunger & Food Insecurity

    Hunger is still one the biggest – and most solvable – problems in the world.

    Every day, as Visual Capitalist’s Bruno Venditti notes, more than 700 million people (8.8% of the world’s population)..

    Published

    on

    Tracking Global Hunger & Food Insecurity

    Hunger is still one the biggest - and most solvable - problems in the world.

    Every day, as Visual Capitalist's Bruno Venditti notes, more than 700 million people (8.8% of the world’s population) go to bed on an empty stomach, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

    The WFP’s HungerMap LIVE displayed here tracks core indicators of acute hunger like household food consumption, livelihoods, child nutritional status, mortality, and access to clean water in order to rank countries.

    After sitting closer to 600 million from 2014 to 2019, the number of people in the world affected by hunger increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In 2020, 155 million people (2% of the world’s population) experienced acute hunger, requiring urgent assistance.

    The Fight to Feed the World

    The problem of global hunger isn’t new, and attempts to solve it have making headlines for decades.

    On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially opened Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans.

    The event was followed by similar concerts at other arenas around the world, globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations, raising more than $125 million ($309 million in today’s dollars) in famine relief for Africa.

    But 35+ years later, the continent still struggles. According to the UN, from 12 countries with the highest prevalence of insufficient food consumption in the world, nine are in Africa.

     

    Approximately 30 million people in Africa face the effects of severe food insecurity, including malnutrition, starvation, and poverty.

     

    Wasted Leftovers

    Although many of the reasons for the food crisis around the globe involve conflicts or environmental challenges, one of the big contributors is food waste.

    According to the United Nations, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. This amounts to about 1.3 billion tons of wasted food per year, worth approximately $1 trillion.

    All the food produced but never eaten would be sufficient to feed two billion people. That’s more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe. Consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa each year.

    Solving Global Hunger

    While many people may not be “hungry” in the sense that they are suffering physical discomfort, they may still be food insecure, lacking regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development.

    Estimates of how much money it would take to end world hunger range from $7 billion to $265 billion per year.

    But to tackle the problem, investments must be utilized in the right places. Specialists say that governments and organizations need to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk regions, increase agricultural productivity, and invest in more efficient supply chains.

    Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 23:30

    Read More

    Continue Reading

    Spread & Containment

    Retail And Food Sales: If It’s Not Inflation, And It’s Not, Then What Is It?

    OK, so we went through the ways and reasons consumer price increases are not inflation, cannot be inflation, are nowhere near actual inflation, and what all that really means. The rate they’ve gone up hasn’t been due to an overactive Federal Reserve,…

    Published

    on

    OK, so we went through the ways and reasons consumer price increases are not inflation, cannot be inflation, are nowhere near actual inflation, and what all that really means. The rate they’ve gone up hasn’t been due to an overactive Federal Reserve, so it has to be something else. This is why, though the bulge has been painful, it’s already beginning to normalize. Without a persistent monetary component (in reality, not what’s in the media) the economy will adjust eventually.

    It already has. Several times, and that’s part of the problem.



    If not money, and it’s not, then what is behind the camel humps? No surprise, Uncle Sam’s ill-timed drops along with reasonable rigidities in the supply chain.

    An Economist might call this an accordion effect. One recently did:

    The closures and reopenings of different industries, coupled with the surges and lags in consumer purchasing during the pandemic, have caused an “accordion effect,” says Shelby Swain Myers, an economist for American Farm Bureau Federation, with lots of industries playing catch-up even as they see higher consumer demand.

    Not just surges and lags, but structural changes that have been forced onto the supply chain from them. With the Census Bureau reporting US retail sales today, no better time than now and no better place than food sales to illustrate the non-economics responsible for the current “inflation” problem.

    When governments panicked in early 2020, they shut down without thinking any farther than “two weeks to slow the spread.” This is, after all, any government’s modus operandi; unintended consequences is what they do.

    The food supply chain had for decades been increasingly adapted to meeting the needs of two very different methods of distributing food products; X amount of capacity was dedicated to the at-home grocery model, while Y had been set up for the growing penchant for eating out (among the increasingly fewer able to afford it). Essentially, two separate supply chains which don’t easily mix; if at all.

    Not only that, food distributors can’t simply switch from one to the other. And even if they could, the costs of doing so, and the anticipated payback when undertaking this, were and are massive considerations. McKinsey calculated these trade-offs in the middle of last year, sobering hurdles for an already stretched situation back then:

    Moreover, many food-service producers have already invested in equipment and facilities to produce and package food in large multi-serving formats for complex prepared-, processed-, frozen-, canned-, and packaged-food value chains. It would be highly inefficient to reconfigure those investments to single service sizes.

    And if anyone had reconfigured or would because they felt this economic shift might be more permanent:

    For food-service producers, the dilemma is around the two- to five-year payback period of new packaging lines. Reinvesting and rebalancing a food-service network for retail is not a straightforward decision. Companies making new investments would be facing a 40 percent or more decline in revenue. And any number of issues could extend the payback period or make investments unrecoverable. Forecasts are uncertain, for example, about the duration of pandemic-related demand shifts, the recovery of the food-service economy, and the timeline of returning to full employment.

    So, for some the accordion of shuttered restaurants squeezed food distributors far more toward the grocery and take-home way of doing their food businesses. And it may have seemed like a great bet, or less disastrous, as “two weeks to slow the spread” morphed to other always-shifting government mandates which appeared to make these non-economics of the pandemic a permanent impress.

    More grocery, less dining. Forever after.

    In one famous example, Heinz Ketchup responded to what some called the Great Ketchup/Catsup? Shortage by rearranging eight, yes, eight production lines to spit out their tomato paste in individual servings rather than bottles. CEO Miguel Patricio told Time Magazine back in June (2021) there hadn’t actually been any shortage of product, just the wrong packaging for it:

    It’s not that we don’t have ketchup. We have ketchup, but in different packages. The strain on demand started when people stopped going to restaurants and they were ordering takeout and home delivery. There would be a lot of packets in the takeout orders. So we have bottles; we don’t have enough pouches. There were pouches being sold on eBay.

    But then…vaccines. Suddenly, after over a year of the above, by April 2021 the doors were flung back open, stir-crazy Americans flew back to their local pubs and establishments (see: below) and within months, according to retail sales, it was almost back to normal again. Meaning pre-COVID.



    The accordion had expanded back out but how much of the food services supply chain had been converted to serve the eat-at-home way which many companies had understandably been led to believe was going to be a lasting transformation?

    Do they undertake even more costly and wasted investments to go back? Maybe they resist, just shipping what they have even if not fully suited in the way it had been before all this began.

    Does Heinz spend the money to reconfigure those same eight production lines so as to revert to producing their ketchup in bottles? Almost certainly, but equally certain they’re going to take their sweet time doing it; milking every last ounce of efficiency – limiting their losses, really – they can out of what may prove to have been a bad decision (again, you can’t really fault Mr. Patricio for being unable to predict pandemic politics).

    Rancher Greg Newhall of Windy N Ranch in Washington likewise told NPR that he has the animals, beef, pork, lamb, chicken, goat, but distributors are caught in the accordion (Newhall didn’t use that term):

    NEWHALL: People don’t understand how unstable and insecure the supply chain is. That isn’t to say that people are going to starve, but they may be eating alternate meats or peanut butter rather than ground beef.

    GARCIA-NAVARRO: Newhall says he hasn’t had any issues raising his animals. It’s the processing and shipping that’s the bottleneck, as the industry’s biggest players pay top dollar to secure their own supply chains.

    The usual credentialed Economist NPR asked for comment first tried to blame LABOR SHORTAGE!!! issues, including those the mainstream had associated with the pandemic (closed schools forcing parents to stay home, or workers somehow deathly afraid of working in close proximity with others) before then admitting:

    CHRIS BARRETT: And there’s also the readjustment of the manufacturing process. As restaurants are quickly opening back up, the food manufacturers and processors have to retool to begin to supply again the bulk-packaged products that are being used by institutional food service providers.

    With US retail sales continuing at an elevated rate, the pressures on the goods sector are going to remain intense.


    Because, however, this is not inflation – there’s no monetary reasons behind the price gouge – the economy given enough time will adjust. And it has adjusted in some ways, very painful ways.

    Painful in the sense beyond just hyped-up food prices and what we pay for gasoline lately, the services sector has instead born the brunt of this ongoing adjustment. Consumers have bought up goods (in retail sales) at the expense of what they aren’t buying in services (not in retail sales); better pricing for sparsely available goods stuck in supply chains, seeming never-ending recession for service providers.

    According to the BEA’s last figures, overall services spending remains substantially lower than when the recession began last year. And it shows in services prices which had been temporarily boosted by Uncle Sam’s helicopter only to quickly, far more speedily and noticeably fall back in line with the prior, pre-existing disinflationary trend following a much smaller second camel hump.



    Once the supply and other non-economic issues get sorted out, we would expect the same thing in goods, too. It is already shaping up this way, though bottlenecks and inefficiencies are sure to remain impediments and drags well into next year.

    Those include other factors beyond food or domestic logistical nightmares. Port problems, foreign sourcing, etc. The accordion has played the entire global economy, and in one sense it has created the illusion of recovery and inflation out of a situation which in reality is nothing like either.

    That’s the literal downside of transitory. We can see what the price bulge(s) had really been, and therefore what it never was.

    Read More

    Continue Reading

    Trending