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Global growth prospects for 2012 for both developing and high-income families are being dimmed by the euro area debt problems and weakening growth in several big emerging economies, the World Bank said.

Developing countries should prepare for further downside risks, says the World Bank in its latest Global Economic Prospects (GEP), released January 2012, as growth outlook for these nations is down to 5.4 percent from estimates of 6.2 percent last June 2011.

Growth for high-income countries is predicted at 1.4 percent, down from 2.7 percent, with the euro zone expected to post a negative 0.3 percent growth from the earlier estimate of 1.8 percent.

Global growth is now projected at 2.5 and 3.1 percent for 2012 and 2013, respectively, the bank said.

Slower growth is already visible in weakening global trade and commodity prices. Global exports of goods and services expanded an estimated 6.6 percent in 2011 (down from 12.4 percent in 2010), and are projected to rise by only 4.7 percent in 2012.

Meanwhile, global prices of energy, metals and minerals, and agricultural products are down 10, 25 and 19 percent, respectively, since peaks in early 2011. Declining commodity prices have contributed to an easing of headline inflation in most developing countries. Although international food prices eased in recent months, down 14 percent from their peak in February 2011, food security for the poorest, including in the Horn of Africa, remains a central concern.

“Developing countries need to evaluate their vulnerabilities and prepare for further shocks, while there is still time,” said Justin Yifu Lin, the World Bank’s chief economist and senior vice president for development economics.

Developing countries have less fiscal and monetary space for remedial measures than they did in 2008/09. As a result, their ability to respond may be constrained if international finance dries up and global conditions deteriorate sharply, the Word Bank said.

To prepare for that possibility, Hans Timmer, director of development prospects at the World Bank, said: “Developing countries should pre-finance budget deficits, prioritize spending on social safety nets and infrastructure, and stress-test domestic banks.”

While prospects in most low-and middle-income countries remain favorable, the ripple effects of the crisis in high-income countries are being felt worldwide. Already, developing country sovereign spreads have increased 45 basis points on average and gross capital flows to developing countries plunged to $170 billion in the second half of 2011, compared with $309 billion received during the same period in 2010.

“An escalation of the crisis would spare no-one. Developed- and developing-country growth rates could fall by as much or more than in 2008/09,” said Andrew Burns, manager of global macroeconomics and lead author of the report. “The importance of contingency planning cannot be stressed enough.”


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