Wednesday, April 21, 1999 Published at 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Business: The Economy
IMF: No global recession
The IMF's headquarters in Washington
A year or two of slow global growth, but no dramatic economic downturn - that is the forecast of the International Monetary Fund in its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook.
The IMF economists do not predict an outright global recession, but forcast that slow growth rates are here to stay for a couple more years.
That would make it difficult for the countries most affected by the economic crisis in East Asia and other developing countries to recover from the doldrums and fight unemployment and poverty.
The IMF thinks that the Brazilian crisis will continue to be a problem for Latin America and its assessment of the situation in Russia is gloomy.
The report says that the Russian economy will continue to shrink this year and that the government's financial problems are exacerbated by falling oil prices - one of Moscow's top revenue earners.
The weakness of most commodity prices, like oil and copper, is holding back many developing countries. Low prices translate into low revenues, hitting both government budgets and workers in those industries.
The refugee crisis and military action in the Balkans will harm economic development there, according to the IMF. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will particularly suffer, as Yugoslavia is one of its main trading partners.
Together with Albania, its economy will also have a heavy burden dealing with the influx of refugees.
The report says that Romania and Bulgaria will suffer from disruption to transport links and increased caution by foreign investors. Croatia is expected to be hurt by a drop in tourism.
The fund's analysis of Japan is another element in the downbeat assessment for the world. In many previous reports in the 1990's the IMF did forecast an imminent Japanese recovery.
This time the IMF is more cautious. In its report it forecasts that the crisis in Japan probably will not get any worse after this year - unless the world economy takes an unexpected turn for the worse.
The possibility that Japan might continue to decline is one of the big risks for the world economy.
Euro praise and warning
The European Union is one of the regions hampered by slow growth. However, the IMF describes the introduction of the single currency, the euro, as successful.
But the report warns that there are formidable challenges ahead for the euro countries and the European Central Bank.
The IMF warns that arrival of the euro and the loss of independent national interest rate policies makes it all the more urgent that European labour markets are made more flexible to address the high and persistent levels of unemployment in several of the eurozone countries.
US shares threat
Once again the IMF repeats its warning of wider international consequences if there were to be a sharp fall in the US stockmarket from its current high levels.
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