OECD Sees Euro Zone Crisis Threatening Global Recovery
(Reuters) – The United States and Japan are leading a fragile economic recovery among developed countries that could yet be blown off course if the euro zone fails to contain the damage from its problem debtor states, the OECD said on Tuesday.
In its twice-yearly economic outlook, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development forecast that global growth would ease to 3.4 percent this year from 3.6 percent in 2011, before accelerating to 4.2 percent in 2013, in line with its last estimates from late November.
“The global economic outlook is still cloudy,” OECD Secretary General Angel Gerri told reporters.
“At first sight the prospects for the global economy are somewhat brighter than six months ago. At closer inspection, the global economic recovery is weak, considerable downside risks remain and sizeable imbalances remain to be addressed.”
Growth across the organization’s 34 members, generally the wealthiest in the world, would ease this year to 1.6 percent from 1.8 percent in 2011 and then reach 2.2 percent in 2013, the OECD said, also roughly in line with previous estimates.
Gurria said that public finances were “fragile”, and in some cases “in dire straits”, in OECD countries.
A perception that the burden of the economic crisis had not been fairly shared was fuelling a confidence crisis and European leaders should consider all possible measures to mend the bloc’s debt problems.
“A bad outcome scenario in the euro area with implications for the rest of the world cannot be ruled out,” he said.
The OECD forecast that the 17-member euro zone economy would shrink 0.1 percent this year before posting growth of 0.9 percent in 2013, though regional powerhouse Germany would chalk up growth of 1.2 percent in 2012 and 2.0 percent in 2013.
“We see a slow rebound of growth in the United States driven mostly by private demand, some pick-up in Japan and moderate to strong growth in emerging economies,” OECD chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan told Reuters in an interview.
“We also see flat growth in the euro area which hides important differences, with northern countries growing and southern countries in recession,” he added.
Although OECD economies were on the mend, the euro crisis could still spiral out of control withGreece struggling to remain solvent and Spanish banks needing to be recapitalized, Padoan said.
The European Central Bank’s injection of one trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) of liquidity into the euro zone’s banking system and an increase in European bailout funds and IMF reserves had helped keep the euro zone’s debt crisis from spiraling out of control.
“If the situation gets worse, there are ways to enhance the firewall capacity which could include a stronger intervention or role of the ECB,” Padoan said.