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Global Recession Fears Grow As Markets Plunge

Fears of a potential global recession are intensifying this week after financial markets around the world plunged following a gloomy economic outlook from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 700 points on Tuesday, while the FTSE 100 in London closed at its lowest level all year. Markets across Asia and Europe saw similar selloffs, wiping out trillions of dollars in value. The drops follow warnings from the IMF that the risks of a worldwide downturn are rising due to high inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and ongoing supply chain woes.

“The world may soon be teetering on the edge of a global recession, only two years after the last one,” said the IMF in an updated World Economic Outlook released Monday. The organisation cut its global growth forecast to 3.2 percent for 2022, a significant drop from 6.1 percent growth in 2021. They also warned that inflation is likely to remain higher for longer, fueled by surging food and energy prices.

Central banks have been aggressively boosting interest rates this year to tamp down rising prices. But the IMF cautioned that this could go too far too fast, potentially plunging major economies into recession. Here in the UK, analysts predict the Bank of England could lift its benchmark rate as high as 3 percent next year, the highest level since 2008. Rate hikes are meant to cool economic activity and ease price growth, but could reduce investment and squeeze consumers too much.

Developing nations also face heightened challenges with rising costs of borrowing, high debts, and capital flight. A stronger dollar as the Federal Reserve hikes rates makes paying back debts harder for poorer countries. “The worst is yet to come, and for many people 2023 will feel like a recession,” said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva this week.

In the US, recession worries have grown after lackluster earnings results from big banks and warnings from shipping giants FedEx and UPS over slowing global trade. American consumer confidence has also sunk to a 16-month low amid sky-high prices for essentials like food, rent, and gasoline. Fears are mounting that persistently high inflation and rate hikes will squeeze household budgets and cause people to rein in spending - potentially sparking a recession.

Whether a worldwide downturn materialises or not, the IMF cautions that the road ahead will remain difficult given pressures from inflation, war, extreme weather, and strained supply chains. Individual governments may need to take further action through tax cuts or spending to ease the burden their citizens face.

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