World Bank 2016 Global Economic Perspectives Report: Weak investment in uncertain times
by Selim Yaman
Jan 16, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Selim Yaman
Jan 16, 2017 12:00 am
The recently published World Bank economic report presents major predictions for 2017 on global and regional levels. Although plenty of uncertainties are expected to remain in 2017 as a continuation of last year, it expects the world growth rate may increase at a very slow pace, and investments may decrease in the Emerging Markets and Developing Countries (EMDE). The report consists of three chapters: Global Outlook, Regional Perspectives and Weak Investment in Uncertain Times: Causes, Implications and Policy Responses as a special focus. This summary mentions all three chapters, but gives a specific focus to global and regional outlooks.
Last year had few positives in terms of international trade and investment levels. In addition, policy uncertainties in major countries played a key role in extending risks. The global growth rate is estimated as 2.3 percent and is expected to increase to 2.7 percent in 2017.
How the world economy will be shaped in 2017 is mostly dependent upon developments in the U.S. Although President-elect Donald Trump's economic policies are still being created, it can be said that the U.S. economy is more likely to follow expansionary scale policies. This may lead to high growth rates at both the U.S. and global level. On the other hand, tightening U.S. financial conditions can also produce negative consequences for the EMDE, as their economies are greatly dependent on external financing in their investment projects. Finally, the new political administration in the U.S. could generate uncertainties over markets and in turn have a negative effect on growth rates.
In terms of regional perspectives, it is not possible to make a unique assessment for all emerging markets. Growth levels in East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia are expected to reach high levels. Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Central Asia will also experience reasonable growth rates in 2017. Growth in the Middle East and North Africa will continue at a more moderate level, as oil prices recover. Lastly, growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to rise in a much weaker way than other commodity exporter countries.The report gives specific emphasis to low levels of investment rates in developing countries. Investment growth in the EMDE has decreased since 2010 and reached below its long-term average. Four major reasons are presented as the main obstacles to high investment growth for these countries: The low level of the price of oil, slowing foreign direct investments, private debt burdens, and political risks.
In terms of Turkey's situation, the country experienced many difficulties last year and that is presented as the major reason for the slowdown of Europe and Central Asia's regional growth rate from 3.5 percent to 2.4 percent over the course of 2015-2016 if Russia is excluded. Turkey experienced very low levels of demand in the wake of the failed coup attempt, and that also deteriorated the business environment and in turn decreased industrial production and the GDP as can be seen from the figure below. Furthermore, the country had to raise its benchmark after three years for the first time in November 2016 as a response to the depreciating currency and weak external demand.
In terms of infrastructure in Turkey, its capabilities are much higher than the average EMDE quality, but the inflow of immigrants due to the Syrian war put the country under pressure. Approximately 56 percent of all Syrian refugees in the world are accommodated in Turkey. In addition, huge energy investments are in the process of decreasing the country's current account deficit by reducing energy dependency. Total investments in infrastructure over the period of 2014–2018 are about $350 billion.
Despite all the challenges Turkey faced in 2016, the country's economy is expected to recover in upcoming years owing to improved confidence, and its growth rate is projected to rise to 3, 3.5 and 3.7 in 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively. These numbers slightly differentiate from June 2016 projections, by 0.3 percent on average. The World Bank points out that the risk of a delay in the implementation of the necessary reforms may discourage investment and in turn lead to a decrease in long-term growth opportunities.
* Selim Yaman works for TRT World. Yaman received his BSc from the Economics Department at Boğaziçi University. Currently, he is a graduate student in Political Economy of Development, SOAS.