Higher interest rates lasting for a longer period around the world means a hard slog for the global economy, World Bank officials warned at the beginning of the bank’s annual meeting last week.
“I do think interest rates will stay higher for longer,” bank president Ajay Banga said at a press briefing. “That can be complicated in many ways, both for investments and for people who, over the years, got used to a low-interest-rate environment.”
“In spite of all these shocks, we have not seen any big economy really get into trouble, but the good news ends there,” Indermit Gill, the bank’s chief economist, told reporters. “The trouble now is, because of the high rates, growth is slowing down a lot.”
In the 1970s, the U.S. Federal Reserve kept rates higher for longer, which “left 24 economies bankrupt,” Gill noted. “We should expect some countries to get into trouble now.
“Some of those countries are not in debt distress,” Gill acknowledged, citing Brazil as an example. However, because high public debt soaks up funds that otherwise would go to private investment, “Brazil’s growth has been slowing steadily and you’re seeing that across the world.”
TREND FORECAST: Troubled countries will now find it harder to win bailouts from the International Monetary Fund and development loans from the World Bank.
Those agencies are funded largely by donations from developed nations, which are facing debt and budget crises of their own. As a result, donations to rescue lesser-developed countries will shrink.
More emerging nations will be forced to restructure their loans, keeping them deeply indebted for longer, stressing their lenders and creating a drag on the world economy, prolonging any strong global recovery for years.
And now, with the Israel War raging, a bad economic problem for troubled countries will become much worse.