Tepid growth forecast in World Bank’s 2020 report

THE WORLD Bank forecasts a slight increase in global economic growth for 2020.

But the operative word is “slight”: the bank’s prediction is for expansion of 2.5 percent, just 0.1 percent up on a weary and worrisome 2019.

The US is expected to face another uninspiring year, while some emerging countries and economies that struggled through last year could be in for a more prosperous time.

Some optimists are still hopeful of good times to come, but 2019 dragged its heels more than any other year since the 2008 financial crisis. If 2020 follows suit, experts expect a tough slog.

India is anticipating something of a resurgence after a poor 2019, and Brazil and Mexico are hoping for similar progress — but Argentina’s already tight economy is predicted to contract still further.

The bank warns of renewed tensions in the Middle East in general, although its report was compiled before the recent missile attack and the US drone assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Factors such as political unrest and conflict could affect ongoing economic outcomes.

The possibility of rising oil prices was taken into account in the World Bank report. Unrest in the Middle East has previously led to a hike in oil, and economic reverberations around the world.

Trade tensions between the US and China — despite recent positive progress — could resurface, the report authors note. There is also concern about mounting debt in developing economies, which has grown faster than anticipated.

In general, global borrowing is seen as a problem. “Low global interest rates provide only a precarious protection against financial crises,” Ayhan Kose, director of the World Bank’s Prospects Group, wrote in the report.