IMF Warns Surge in U.S., China Debt Could Have ‘Profound’ Impact on Global Economy
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IMF Warns Surge in U.S., China Debt Could Have ‘Profound’ Impact on Global Economy

Says U.S. and China, which will continue to see a surge in borrowing if current policies remain in place.

By PAUL HANNON
Fri, Apr 19, 2024 9:50amGrey Clock 3 min

The U.S. and Chinese governments should take action to lower future borrowing, as a surge in their debts threatens to have “profound” effects on the global economy and the interest rates paid by other countries, the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday.

In its twice-yearly report on government borrowing, the Fund said many rich countries have adopted measures that will lead to a reduction in their debts relative to the size of their economies, although not to the levels seen before the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, that is not true of the U.S. and China, which will continue to see a surge in borrowing if current policies remain in place. The Fund projected that U.S. government debt relative to economic output will rise by 70% by 2053, while Chinese debt will more than double by the same year.

The Fund said both countries will lead a rise in global government debt to 98.8% of economic output in 2029 from 93.2% in 2023. The U.K. and Italy are among the other big contributors to that increase.

“The increase will be led by some large economies, for example, China, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which critically need to take policy action to address fundamental imbalances between spending and revenues,” the IMF said.

The IMF expects U.S. government debt to be 133.9% of annual gross domestic product in 2029, up from 122.1% in 2023. And it expects China’s debt to rise to 110.1% of GDP by the same year from 83.6%.

The Fund said there had been “large fiscal slippages” in the U.S. during 2023, with government spending exceeding revenues by 8.8% of GDP, up from 4.1% in the previous year. It expects the budget deficit to exceed 6% over the medium term.

That level of borrowing is slowing progress toward reducing inflation, the Fund said, and may also increase the interest rates paid by other governments.

“Loose US fiscal policy could make the last mile of disinflation harder to achieve while exacerbating the debt burden,” the Fund said. “Further, global interest rate spillovers could contribute to tighter financial conditions, increasing risks elsewhere.”

A series of weak auctions for U.S. Treasurys are stoking investors’ concerns that markets will struggle to absorb an incoming rush of government debt. The government is poised to sell another $386 billion or so of bonds in May—an onslaught that Wall Street expects to continue no matter who wins November’s presidential election.

While analysts don’t expect those sales to fail, a sharp rise in U.S. bond yields would likely have consequences for borrowers around the world. The IMF estimated that a rise of one percentage point in U.S. yields leads to a matching rise for developing economies and an increase of 90 basis points in other rich countries.

“Long-term government bond yields in the United States remain elevated and sensitive to inflation developments and monetary policy decisions,” the Fund said. “This could lead to volatile financing conditions in other economies.”

China’s budget deficit fell to 7.1% of GDP in 2023 from 7.5% the previous year, but the IMF projects a steady pickup from this year to 7.9% in 2029. It warned that a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy “exacerbated by unintended fiscal tightening” would likely weaken growth elsewhere, and reduce aid flows that have become a significant source of funding for governments in Africa and Latin America.

An unusually large number of elections is likely to push government borrowing higher this year, the Fund said. It estimates that 88 economies or economic areas are set for significant votes, and that budget deficits tend to be 0.3% of GDP higher in election years than in other years.

“What makes this year different is not only the confluence of elections, but the fact that they will happen amid higher demand for public spending,” the Fund said. “The bias toward higher spending is shared across the political spectrum, indicating substantial challenges in gathering support for consolidation in the years ahead, and particularly in a key election year like 2024.”



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The sticky economic factor making an interest rate drop unlikely this year

It’s a key indicator in the RBA board’s decision making process, but it is proving difficult to move in the right direction

By Bronwyn Allen
Thu, May 30, 2024 2 min

The consumer price index (CPI) rose in April to an annual rate of 3.6 percent, which was 0.1 percent higher than in March, raising doubts about an interest rate cut this year as inflation starts looking stickier than expected. This is the second consecutive month of small rises, potentially indicating that Australia is experiencing the same stalled progress in bringing inflation down that is being seen in the United States, as both nations approach their central banks’ target inflation bands.

In Australia, the target inflation band is 2 to 3 percent, with the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) aiming to achieve the midpoint under its new agreement with the Federal Government following a formal review. In its interest rate decision-making, the RBA does not give as much weight to the monthly inflation data because not all prices are measured like they are in the quarterly data. On a quarterly basis, inflation has continued to fall. In the March quarter, the annual rate of inflation was 3.6 percent, down from 4.1 percent in December, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

CBA economist Stephen Wu noted the April data was above the bank’s forecast of 3.5 percent as well as the industrywide consensus forecast of 3.4 percent. He predicts the next leg down in inflation won’t be until the September quarter, when we will see the effects of electricity rebates and a likely smaller minimum wage increase to be announced by the Fair Work Commission next month compared to June 2023.

The most significant contributor to the April inflation rise were housing costs, which rose 4.9 percent on an annual basis. This reflects a continuing rise in weekly rents amid near-record low vacancy rates across the country, as well as significantly higher labour and materials costs which builders are passing on to the buyers of new homes, as well as renovators.

The second biggest contributor was food and non-alcoholic beverages, up 3.8 percent annually, reflecting higher prices for fruit and vegetables in April. The ABS said unfavourable weather led to a reduced supply of berries, bananas and vegetables such as broccoli. The annual rate of inflation for alcohol and tobacco rose by 6.5 percent, and transport rose by 4.2 percent due to higher fuel prices.

Robert Carnell, the Asia Pacific head of research at ING, said they no longer expect a rate cut this year after seeing the April data. Mr Carnell said an increase in trend inflation was apparent and “rate cuts this year look unlikely”. In the RBA’s latest monetary policy statement, published before the April CPI was released, it said: “Inflation is expected to be higher in the near term than previously thought due to the stronger labour market and higher petrol prices. But inflation is still expected to return to the target range in the second half of 2025 and to reach the midpoint in 2026.”

 

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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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