Wednesday, December 10, 2008

World Bank: Global recession possible next year

World Bank says deep global recession possible in 2009 due to international banking crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Economic growth prospects for both high income and developing countries have deteriorated substantially and the possibility of a very deep global recession cannot be ruled out, the World Bank said Tuesday.

The international banking crisis that erupted in September after more than a year of less acute financial turmoil has substantially reinforced the cyclical downturn that was already under way, the bank said in a report devoted to assessing economic prospects for 2009.

"Following the insolvency of a large number of banks and financial institutions in the United States, Europe and the developing world, financial conditions have become much tighter, capital flows to developing countries have dried up and huge amounts of market capitalization have evaporated," the bank said.

The bank predicted world economic growth will be 2.5 percent in 2008 and 0.9 percent in 2009. It said developing countries will likely grow 4.5 percent next year, down from 7.9 percent in 2007, while the economies of high income countries will shrink.

Even if the strong measures governments took to restore confidence in the international banking system work and credit begins to thaw, a number of developing countries are likely to face substantial strains, possibly including bank failures and currency crises, the bank said.

"In these very uncertain circumstances," the bank said, "policy makers must place a premium on reducing the likelihood of domestic turmoil by reacting swiftly and forcefully to emerging difficulties, including, if necessary, seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund.'"

The IMF provides rescue packages to countries in financial crises while the bank, its sister institution, lends money or makes grants for development projects.

"People in the developing world have had to deal with two major external shocks ---- the upward spiral in food and fuel prices followed by the financial crisis, which has eased tensions in commodity markets but is testing banking systems and threatening job losses around the world," said Justin Lin, the bank's chief economist. "Urgent steps are needed to help reduce fallout from the crisis on the real economy and on the poorest."

In response to the crisis the bank said it was increasing its support for developing countries, through new spending commitments of up to $100 million over the next three years. The bank said its private sector arm, the International Finance Corp., would help by providing trade financing, helping banks recapitalize or aiding infrastructure projects facing financial distress.
By Harry Dunphy, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday December 10, 9:21 am ET

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Job Losses increase - future bleak

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. employers axed 533,000 jobs from payrolls in November, the most in 34 years, as the year-old recession hammered the economy and hardened calls for dramatic government action to restore growth.

The Labor Department said Friday the unemployment rate hit 6.7 percent last month, the highest since 1993, which adds up to 10.3 million Americans out of work, 2 million more than the population of New York City.

The jobless rate, which stood at 6.5 percent in October, would have been even higher but for people leaving the labor force in discouragement over their search for work.

A number of U.S. companies have announced jobs cuts this week, including General Motors Corp and asset manager Legg Mason Inc Friday, a day after phone giant AT&T said it was letting 12,000 workers go. Economists expect the unemployment rate to top 8 percent by late next year.

"You can't get much uglier than this. The economy has just collapsed, and has gone into a free fall," said Richard Yamarone, chief economist at Argus Research in New York.

The collapse of the U.S. housing market last year sparked a global credit crisis that has killed growth, panicked investors and destroyed some of the oldest names in banking.

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