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The Global Recovery’s Downside Risks

Recent economic data from around the world suggest that growth could soon accelerate, now that the global economy has weathered multiple crises over the past two years. And yet the possibility of another global slowdown – if not an outright stall – cannot be ruled out.

NEW YORK – For the past two years, the global economy has been growing, but it has swung between periods of rapid expansion and deceleration. During this period, two episodes, in particular, caused US and global equity prices to fall by about 10%. Is a pattern emerging, or is a fitful global recovery set to stabilize?

The first episode came in August/September 2015, when many observers feared that China’s economy could be headed for a hard landing. The second episode, in January/February 2016, also stemmed from concerns about China. But investors were also increasingly worried about stalling US growth, collapsing oil and commodity prices, rapid interest-rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve, and unconventional negative-rate monetary policies in Europe and Japan.

Each deceleration episode lasted for about two months, at which point the correction in equity prices began to reverse. Investors’ fears were not borne out, and central banks began to ease their monetary policies; or, in the case of the Fed, put rate hikes on hold.

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