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Tue, Dec 02, 2008 - Page 10 News List

UN calls for massive stimulus package

INJECTION: When an official was asked how big a stimulus he favored in addition to those already pledged, he said one of tAShe ‘same order of magnitude’ may be needed


A massive and coherent economic stimulus must take place soon to counter the global economic downturn, UN experts said in a report published yesterday in Doha.

The UN called for “massive economic stimulus packages that are coherent and mutually reinforcing on a global basis, and linked with sustainable development imperatives” in its Report on World Economic Situation and Prospects 2009 presented at an international ministerial conference on development financing in the Qatari capital.

The packages “should come on top of the liquidity and recapitalization measures already undertaken by countries in response to the economic crisis,” the report added.

UN economists also proposed “stronger regulation of financial markets and institutions, adequate international liquidity provisioning, an overhaul of the international reserve system and a more inclusive and effective global economic governance, to prevent against any future repetition.”

The report made dire projections for economic growth across the globe next year, with an overall drop in per capita income and developed nations most affected by the global financial crisis.

Developed countries will see a 0.5 percent decline in output, compared with an average growth of 5.3 percent in transition economies and 4.6 percent in developing countries.

World growth will most likely not exceed one percent next year, compared to 2.5 percent this year and rates varying between 3.5 and 4 percent in the four previous years.

US growth will decline by one percent, with the euro zone declining by 0.7 percent and Japan by 0.3 percent. Growth in India, Brazil and Mexico is slated at 7 percent, 2.9 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

“But given the great uncertainty prevailing today, a more pessimistic scenario is quite possible,” the report said.

“If the credit crisis continues and confidence is not restored in the financial sector in the coming months,” UN experts explain. “This would bring economic growth in developing countries down to 2.7 percent, dangerously low for their ability to sustain poverty reduction efforts and social and political stability.”

The US has already launched an economic recovery plan worth US$700 billion and China, the world’s fourth-largest economy, has initiated an unprecedented 4 trillion yuan (US$590 billion) stimulus package.

But steps to inject money in the banking system and lower interest rates have failed to restore confidence.

“With limited space for monetary stimulus, fiscal policy options are needed to reactivate the global economy,” the report said.

It said the total cost of US government action in the face of the financial meltdown has reached US$7 trillion, and that the figure could be around US$11 trillion globally.

Rob Vos, the UN’s Development Policy and Analysis Division chief and lead author of the study, said a fiscal stimulus of the “same order of magnitude” may be needed to keep the world economy from shrinking next year.

But the figures may not be as high as US$7 trillion or US$11 trillion because “those are commitments rather than money actually spent,” he said.

“A stimulus of around one to two percent of GDP across the world should be enough to stave off negative growth,” Vos said.

“Maybe not for 2009 but in 2010 there could be a recovery [if the stimulus package goes ahead] unless markets fall further in the meantime.”

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