The Housing Chronicles Blog: IMF warns against possible global recession

Saturday, April 12, 2008

IMF warns against possible global recession

Declaring that the housing & mortgage crisis has mushroomed into the worst global financial shock since the Great Depression, the Int'l Monetary Fund is now estimating the chance of a worldwide recession at 25% and hints that governments may have no choice but to bailout banks and borrowers before the situation is solved. From a story at The Guardian found through

The US mortgage crisis has spiralled into "the largest financial shock since the Great Depression" and there is a one-in-four chance that it will cause a full-blown global recession, the International Monetary Fund warned yesterday.

As finance ministers and central bankers arrived in Washington to discuss ways of tackling the crisis, the IMF warned, in its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook, that governments might be forced to step in with more public bailouts of troubled banks and cash-strapped homeowners before the crisis was over.

"The financial market crisis that erupted in August 2007 has developed into the largest financial shock since the Great Depression, inflicting heavy damage on markets and institutions at the core of the financial system," it said...

With the US sliding into such a recession, there is mounting pessimism about the ability of the rest of the world to escape unscathed. The IMF shaved its forecast for growth in the global economy by half a percentage point, to 3.7% for this year, and by 0.6% - to 3.8% - for 2009.

Although the Washington-based body expects most emerging economies to continue to grow strongly over the next two years, it admits that efforts to tackle the knock-on effects of the credit crunch could be hampered by fast-growing commodity prices. "Inflation has picked up around the globe, mainly reflecting sharp increases in food and energy prices," it said....

However, the IMF said more taxpayers' cash may still need to be spent to unblock the markets. "Given the serious risks coming from sustained financial market dislocations, the recent legislation to provide additional fiscal support for an economy under stress is fully justified, and room may need to be found for some additional support for housing and financial markets."

Simon Johnson, IMF research director, presenting the report in Washington, described such bailouts as an essential "third line of defence", after interest rate and tax cuts, for governments struggling to prevent a deep recession.

He said the main risk to the global economy over the next year was the emergence of a vicious circle, as house prices continued to fall, dealing a fresh blow to the world's banks, and creating a damaging feedback loop...

The IMF's downbeat analysis creates a gloomy backdrop for policymakers arriving in Washington to discuss ways of easing the credit squeeze. Such is the concern about problems in the financial markets that a range of radical options is on the table. These include greater disclosure of losses on sub-prime assets by banks; firmer regulation of credit-rating agencies, and - more controversially - plans for taking some of the risky mortgage-backed assets at the heart of the crisis on to government balance sheets.

No comments: