In 2021 the global economy has grown significantly, recovering in part from the crisis caused by the pandemic, which caused a sharp fall in global GDP in 2020. The significant upturn in global growth has been due to progress in the vaccination against COVID-19 and important economic stimuli adopted by public authorities.
Activity indicators show, however, that the economic recovery process has lost momentum in recent months. The recent slowdown in economic growth is taking place in an environment marked by a sharp increase in infections caused by new variants of the COVID-19, although the increasing immunization of the world population has helped to generally prevent the adoption of mobility restrictions, which would have had a greater impact on the economy.
The effects of reduced production due to the pandemic and its persistence, coupled with fiscal stimuli and strong demand for goods, once restrictions have been lifted, contribute to maintaining the problems in global supply chains observed since the beginning of 2021 which, in addition to negatively affecting economic activity, generate significant upward pressure on prices.
Against this backdrop, annual inflation in December 2021 stood at 7.0% in the United States and 5.0% in the Eurozone. In both geographical areas, long-term inflation expectations from markets and surveys have been adjusted upwards, although in the case of the Eurozone they remain generally below the European Central Bank’s (hereinafter, ECB) 2% target.
High inflation rates and their increased persistence have put pressure on central banks to withdraw monetary stimuli earlier than they had originally anticipated. The United States Federal Reserve, in particular, has begun the rollback in its bond-buying program and has suggested that monetary policy interest rates will adjust upwards earlier and faster than expected by financial markets and financial analysts, and also that a downsizing of its balance sheet may soon begin. In the Eurozone, the ECB will complete the pandemic emergency purchase program (PEPP) in March 2022. Although the asset purchase program (APP) is maintained, asset purchases will be moderated over the course of 2022. However, unlike the Federal Reserve, the ECB has continued to maintain that it rules out an increase in benchmark interest rates in 2022.
According to BBVA Research, the global economic recovery process is expected to continue in the coming months, albeit at a slightly slower pace than expected in autumn of 2021, due to the persistence of the pandemic, but also due to a higher-than-estimated impact of supply chain problems and inflationary pressures. All this against a background of reduced fiscal and monetary stimulus. GDP growth would therefore moderate, from an estimated 5.6% in 2021 to about 4.2% in 2022 in the United States, from 5.1% in 2021 to 3.7% in 2022 in the Eurozone and from 8.0% in 2021 to 5.2% in 2022 in China. The likely rise in monetary policy interest rates in the United States, which could reach 1.25% by the end of 2022, as well as a progressive control of the pandemic and a moderation of supply chain problems, would allow inflation to be moderated throughout the year; although inflation is expected to remain high, particularly in the United States. Risks arising from this economic scenario expected by BBVA Research are significant and are biased downwards in the case of activity, and include more persistent inflation, financial turbulence caused by a more aggressive withdrawal of monetary stimuli, the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus that bypass current vaccines, a more intense slowdown in the Chinese economy, as well as social and geopolitical tensions.
REAL GDP GROWTH AND INFLATION IN 2020 (REAL PERCENTAGE GROWTH)
|The United States||5.6||7.0||4.2||3.2|
- Source: BBVA Research estimates. Inflation end of period.