The current corporate publications that are World Bank Group flagships are: World Development Report (WDR); Global Economic Prospects (GEP), Doing Business (DB), and Poverty and Shared Prosperity (PSP). All go through a formal Bank-wide review and are discussed with the Board prior to their release. In terms of branding, the phrase “A World Bank Group Flagship Report” will be used exclusively on the cover of these publications. This label will signal that the institution assumes a higher level of responsibility for the positions held by these reports. The flagship Global Monitoring Report (GMR) is no longer produced. The flagship Doing Business is no longer produced.
The year began on a positive note. A marked improvement in market sentiment, combined with monetary policy easing in developing countries, was reflected in a rebound in economic activity in both developing and advanced countries. Industrial production, trade and capital goods sales all returned to positive territory, following the slow growth of the fourth quarter of 2011. Although debt levels in developing countries are lower, several countries (notably Jordan, India, and Pakistan) must reduce their structural fiscal balances to reduce debt to 40 percent of Gross domestic Product (GDP) by 2020 (or prevent debt-to-GDP ratios from rising further). As a result, sharp swings in investor sentiment and financial conditions will continue to complicate the conduct of macroeconomic policy in developing countries. In these conditions, policy in developing countries needs to be less reactive to short-term changes in external conditions, and more responsive to medium-term domestic considerations. A return to more neutral macroeconomic policies would also help developing countries reduce their vulnerabilities to external shocks, by rebuilding fiscal space, reducing short-term debt exposures and recreating the kinds of buffers that allowed them to react so resiliently to the 2008/09 crisis.
The world economy has entered a dangerous period. Some of the financial turmoil in Europe has spread to developing and other high-income countries, which until earlier had been unaffected. This contagion has pushed up borrowing costs in many parts of the world, and pushed down stock markets, while capital flows to developing countries have fallen sharply. Europe appears to have entered recession. At the same time, growth in several major developing countries (Brazil, India and, to a lesser extent, Russia, South Africa and Turkey) is significantly slower than it was earlier in the recovery, mainly reflecting policy tightening initiated in late 2010 and early 2011 in order to combat rising inflationary pressures. As a result, and despite a strengthening of activity in the United States and Japan, global growth and world trade have slowed sharply.
The global financial crisis is no longer the major force dictating the pace of economic activity in developing countries. The majorities of developing countries has, or are close to having regained full-capacity activity levels. As a result, country-specific productivity and sartorial factors are now the dominant factors underpinning growth. Macroeconomic policy in developing countries needs to turn toward medium-term productivity enhancements, managing inflationary pressures re-establishing the fiscal and monetary cushions that allowed most developing countries to come through the crisis so well. In contrast, activity in high income and some developing European countries continues to struggle with crisis-related problems, including banking-sector, fiscal and household restructuring. The remainder of this report is organized as follows. The next section discusses recent developments in global production, trade, inflation, and financial markets, and presents updates of the World Bank's forecast for the global economy and developing countries. This is followed by a more detailed discussion of some of the risks and tensions in the current environment, and a short section of concluding remarks. Several annexes address regional and sartorial issues in much greater detail.
Economic activity in most developing countries has, or is close to having, recovered. Supported by resurgence in international and domestic financial flows and higher commodity prices, most of the spare capacity in developing countries that was created by the crisis has been reabsorbed, and developing countries have regained trend growth rates close to those observed in the pre-crisis period. The remainder of this report is organized as follows. The next section discusses recent developments in global production, trade, and financial markets, and presents updates of the World Bank's forecast for the global economy and developing countries. The global economy is transitioning from the bounce-back phase of the recovery toward a period of slower but more sustainable growth. Growth in most developing countries is increasingly running into capacity constraints, while in high-income and developing Europe and Central Asia growth is hampered by the concentrated nature of slack and ongoing restructuring. In this environment, policy needs to be moving away from short-term demand stimulus toward measures that generate additional employment by enhancing the supply potential of economies. The global policy environment has become highly charged and uncertain, and presents multiple risks to prospects for developing countries. As emphasized at the recent G-20 meetings in Seoul (G-20 2010), both developing and high-income countries will need to take care to minimize the negative external consequences of their domestic policy actions. Concretely, this means that while countries must remain mindful of domestic conditions, when opportunities present themselves to pursue domestic policy objectives in a manner that support adjustment elsewhere in the global economy these should be taken up.