A World Bank Group Flagship Report - Global Economic Prospects JANUARY 2021

Although the global economy is emerging from the collapse triggered by the pandemic, the recovery is projected to be subdued. Global economic output is expected to expand 4 percent in 2021 but still remain more than 5percent below its pre-pandemic trend. Moreover, there is a material risk that setbacks in containing the pandemic or other adverse events derail the recovery. Growth in emerging market and developing economies(EMDEs) is envisioned to firm to 5 percent in 2021, but EMDE output is also expected to remain well below its pre-pandemic projection. The pandemic has exacerbated the risks associated with a decade-long wave of global debt accumulation. Debt levels have reached historic highs, making the global economy particularly vulnerable to financial market stress. The pandemic is likely to steepen the long-expected slowdown in potential growth over the next decade, undermining prospects for poverty reduction. The heightened level of uncertainty around the global outlook highlights policy makers’ role in raising the likelihood of better growth out comes while warding off worse ones. Limiting the spread of the virus, providing relief for vulnerable populations, and overcoming vaccine-related challenges are key immediate priorities. With weak fiscal positions severely constraining government support measures in many countries, an emphasis on ambitious reforms is needed to rekindle robust, sustainable and equitable growth. Global cooperation is critical in addressing many of these challenges. In particular, the global community needs to act rapidly and forcefully to make sure the ongoing debt wave does not end with a string of debt crises in EMDEs, as was the case with earlier waves of debt accumulation.

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