OECD cuts global economic forecasts over euro zone risks
By Leigh Thomas
PARIS (Reuters) - The OECD slashed its global growth forecasts on Tuesday, warning that the debt crisis in the recession-hit euro zone is the greatest threat to the world economy.
In light of the dire economic outlook, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development urged central banks to prepare for more exceptional monetary easing if politicians fail to come up with credible answers to the debt crisis.
The Paris-based think-tank forecast in its twice-yearly Economic Outlook that the global economy would grow 2.9 percent this year before expanding 3.4 percent in 2013. The estimate marked a sharp downgrade since the OECD last estimated a rate in May of 3.4 percent for this year and 4.2 percent in 2013.
The euro zone is facing two years of economic contraction, while the United States risks a recession if lawmakers there fail to agree a deal to avoid a combination of tax hikes and budget cuts that will otherwise go into effect next year.
Providing the deadlock in Washington is overcome, the world's biggest economy will grow 2.0 percent next year, the OECD estimated, cutting its forecast from 2.6 percent in May.
"The U.S. fiscal cliff is a very important source of concern, but the greatest downside risk remains the euro zone," OECD chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan told Reuters in an interview.
"The reason for that is not only recession, but also the fact that different negative policy (feedback) loops between sovereign debt, the banking situation and exit risks remain. So the overall zone remains in a state of fragility."
Cutting its estimates, the OECD forecast that the euro zone economy would contract 0.4 percent this year and another 0.1 percent next year, only returning to growth in 2014 with a rate of 1.3 percent. Continued...