International Monetary Fund cuts South Africa growth forecasts as politics takes it toll


Globally, the economic picture has brightened a bit, with the world growth for this year projected at 3.6 percent, up from last year's 3.2 percent.

"After two years of recession, economic activity in Russian Federation is projected to expand by 1.8 percent in 2017, helped by stabilising oil prices, easing financial conditions, and improved confidence", the International Monetary Fund said in its report. With growth outcomes in the first half of 2017 generally stronger than expected, upward revisions to growth are broad based, including for the eurozone, Japan, China, emerging Europe, and Russian Federation.

Speaking on Tuesday during the unveiling of the World Economic Outlook report at the organisation's headquarters in Washington, Maurice Obstfeld, IMF's chief economist, said rising political uncertainty had reduced consumer and business confidence in South Africa. It said the economy's potential growth rate was just 1.8 percent, far lower than the 3.0 percent or more being targeted by Trump and his administration.

"As I said, the takeaway from my visit is the strong impression of the Korean economy", Lagarde said, stressing that the number shows the performance despite the adverse circumstances it faces, such as geopolitical tensions, 1.9 percent inflation, fiscal surplus and a current account "a bit on the high side".

The Fund cautioned that euro zone growth would remain under pressure due to weak productivity, an ageing population and, in some countries, high debt.

Maurice Obstfeld, chief economist at the IMF, said the reduction in the fund's long-term outlook for the United Kingdom from an annual growth rate of 1.9 per cent to 1.7 per cent was a direct outcome of leaving the EU.

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The IMF lowered India's forecast growth to 6.7 per cent from the 7.2 per cent predicted in July.

"IMF is upbeat about Asia", Lagarde said, adding it was the "fastest growing region". Inflation seems to have peaked in many emerging markets and developing economies, as well. The IMF said it saw Turkey's inflation remaining in double-digits at 10.9 percent in 2017, but later falling to 9.3 percent the following year.

Treasurer Scott Morrison will attend the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Washington on October 13-14.

The United States also suffered a cut to growth projections this summer, but received an upgrade in the October report that nullified the move.

The Fund had already cut its 2017 forecast by 0.3 percentage points in July from April and left its latest forecast unchanged.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has delivered an unusually upbeat assessment of the prospects for the global economy, with worldwide growth now at its strongest rate in seven years.