World Economy

ECB Says Global Growth Risks Remain Tilted on the Downside

ECB Says Global Growth Risks Remain Tilted on the DownsideECB Says Global Growth Risks Remain Tilted on the Downside

Risks to global growth appeared to have diminished, with markets so far taking policy tightening from the US Federal Reserve in their stride, the European Central Bank said Wednesday in a regular economic bulletin.

But the outlook remains tilted towards the downside due to new factors, notably signals from the United States suggesting a shift towards protectionism, RTE reported.

The chances of an abrupt shift in global financial conditions appear to have eased, major emerging market economies seem to be in better shape than in recent years, the ECB said. Chinese policy support for growth has mitigated concerns about the short-term outlook, it added.

“Careful communication by the Federal Reserve System, coupled with a very gradual course of monetary policy tightening, and the decline in vulnerabilities in major emerging markets, appears to have eased the risk of a disorderly tightening of global financial conditions,” the ECB said.

But new sources of risk, particularly from the potentially protectionist direction of the new US administration, could have a significant negative effect on the global economy, the ECB added.

China’s vulnerabilities over the medium term are also still elevated, given a further rise in leverage, and potentially contentious negotiations over Britain’s departure from the European Union remain a source of concern, it added.

“Overall, therefore, although some risks appear to have diminished, the balance of risks to the global outlook remains tilted to the downside,” the ECB added.

Since the “taper tantrum” episode in 2013, when expectations regarding US monetary policy shifted abruptly, a combination of careful communication and a very gradual approach to monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve System appears to have mitigated such risks somewhat.

In particular, the gap between market expectations and Federal Open Market Committee projections regarding interest rates has narrowed, suggesting that the prospect of monetary policy surprises has diminished.

However, uncertainty about the tightening cycle in the United States remains and, despite the modest rebound in the term premium since mid-2016, longer-term interest rates remain very low.

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