Half the world economy is one accident away from a deflation trap. The International Monetary Fund says the probability may now be as high as 20pc.
It is a remarkable state of affairs that the G2 monetary superpowers – the US and China – should both be tightening into such a 20pc risk, though no doubt they have concluded that asset bubbles are becoming an even bigger danger.
“We need to be extremely vigilant,” said the IMF’s Christine Lagarde in Davos. “The deflation risk is what would occur if there was a shock to those economies now at low inflation rates, way below target. I don’t think anyone can dispute that in the eurozone, inflation is way below target.”
It is not hard to imagine what that shock might be. It is already before us as Turkey, India and South Africa all slam on the brakes, forced to defend their currencies as global liquidity drains away.
The World Bank warns in its latest report – Capital Flows and Risks in Developing Countries – that the withdrawal of stimulus by the US Federal Reserve could throw a “curve ball” at the international system.
“If market reactions to tapering are precipitous, developing countries could see flows decline by as much as 80pc for several months,” it said. A quarter of these economies risk a sudden stop. “While this adjustment might be short-lived, it is likely to inflict serious stresses, potentially heightening crisis risks.”
To read the rest of this article, read here…