Cyclists pass pedestrians as they cycle along a road in China. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Asia Pacific Region Still Driving Global Growth: IMF Update

(Bloomberg) -- The world economy is enjoying the fastest and broadest expansion in years, though risks remain amid early signs of a potential trade war, the specter of tighter financial conditions as well as increased public and private indebtedness. Those issues promise to be some of the main topics of discussion as central bankers and finance ministers gather in Washington this week for spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Here are the latest developments from the meetings, updated throughout the day. (Time-stamps are local time in Washington.)

Asia Pacific Region Driving Global Growth (9:35 a.m.)

The Asia Pacific region remains the main engine of the global economy, accounting for more than 60 percent of global growth. That’s one of the primary messages from the IMF in its semi-annual assessment of the region. Regional output is tipped to grow 5.6 percent in 2018 and 2019, buoyed by external demand and still accommodative financial conditions.

But it’s not all upside. The IMF said that over the medium term, downside risks dominate including protectionism, tightening financial conditions and geopolitical tensions. There was also a warning that subdued inflation could reverse.

U.S. Needs to Back Off ‘Unilateral Pressures’: IMF (7:55 a.m.)

The U.S. should stop using “unilateral” measures to pressure other countries on trade matters, said a top official at the International Monetary Fund.

“We need to pivot where we are,” IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton said in an interview Friday on Bloomberg TV. “The U.S. needs to be letting go of unilateral pressures to achieve its goals.”

Countries that have gained from globalization know that their future lies in maintaining open trade and integration, Lipton said. Those countries “need to be thinking about opening up their own economy,” said Lipton, a former senior U.S. Treasury Department official during the Asian financial crisis.

Friday Highlights

  • 10:15am: IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department press briefing with Director Jihad Azour
  • 11am: Moving From Financial Access to Inclusion Panel with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Belgium Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo
  • 11:15am: IMF Africa Department press briefing with Director Abebe Aemro Selassie
  • 12:45pm: Group of 20 press conference
  • 2pm: IMF Western Hemisphere Department press briefing with Director Alejandro Werner
  • 5pm: The Future of Resilience with European Investment Bank VP Vazil Hudak

Here’s What’s Happened This Week

  • Trade tensions between the U.S. and China risk eroding business and investor confidence, even as global growth enjoys its best upswing in years. That’s the message being conveyed to finance ministers and central bank governors at the IMF meetings.
  • The world’s debt load has ballooned to a record $164 trillion, a trend that could make it harder for countries to respond to the next recession and pay off debts if financing conditions tighten, the IMF said in its semi-annual Fiscal Monitor report.
  • New IMF data show America’s debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to exceed that of Italy by 2023.
  • Threats to the global financial system are rising, with the price of risky assets surging in a manner reminiscent of the years before the global financial crisis, the fund said in its Global Financial Stability Report.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.