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Global economic concerns

Yesterday, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) increased the cash rate target by 25 basis points to 2.6%, smaller than the 50 basis points over the previous four months.

The smaller increase is an acknowledgment of the narrow path between containing inflation and inflicting significant economic damage. Governor Philip Lowe noted in particular:

One source of uncertainty is the outlook for the global economy, which has deteriorated recently.

released in late September. Forecasts for growth in 2023 were revised down across the board. The US economy is projected to grow by just 0.5% in 2023, down from a forecast of 1.2% in June. The Eurozone is projected to grow by just 0.3% in 2023, down sharply from a forecast of 1.6% just 3 months ago. Germany, the largest economy within the Eurozone, is now forecast to shrink 0.7% in 2023, a stark revision to last quarter’s forecast of 3.1% growth.

In amongst the weaker global outlook, Australia is projected to grow 2.0% in 2023, a downward revision of 0.5% from forecasts in June (though still at the upper end of growth for developed economies).

With emerging and developing economies accounting for almost 50% of global GDP and more than 60% of global growth, this is a significant revision. Forecasts for growth in 2023 were revised down in China, India, Brazil, and Russia. The silver lining, if any, is an upward revision to growth for energy exporting economies in 2022. Saudi Arabia, the largest exporter of crude oil, is projected to see its GDP grow by 9.9% in 2022, up sharply from a forecast of 7.8% last quarter. But even Saudi Arabia is forecast to grow slower than earlier estimates in 2023.

Chart 1: Forecasts for growth have been revised down by the OECD

Source: OECD

At the heart of the sobering forecasts are two factors. First, price increases have been broader, and more persistent than most policymakers expected. Second, central banks have responded with aggressive increases in interest rates aimed at slowing demand and flattening inflation.

The concurrent nature of interest rate increases across the global economy is evident in the Global Monetary Policy Tracker published by the Council on Foreign Relations. The tracker is at its highest reading in more than a decade indicating a broad tightening of monetary policy. This concurrent tightening is delivering a demand-side shock that is slowing global economic growth.

Chart 2: A concurrent increase in interest rates risks a demand-side shock

Source: Council on Foreign Relations, Global Monetary Policy Tracker

The OECD’s downward revisions to projections begs the question, are we heading towards a global economic recession? While the revised projections are concerning, they are not yet that dire, with 2.2% global GDP growth still predicted for 2023. But the path for a soft landing for the global economy is looking increasingly fraught.

For a more detailed discussion on the global outlook and the Australian economy stay tuned for our latest edition of Business Outlook.