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World Bank warns of widening inequality amid fastest global economic rebound in 80 years

·Reporter
·3 min read

The World Bank on Tuesday said it expects the global economy to rebound by the fastest pace in 80 years, although many of the world’s emerging and developing economies will continue to face an uphill battle through the recovery.

In its Global Economic Prospects report, the World Bank projects that the global economy will expand by 5.6% in 2021, with growth forecasts of 6.8% in the U.S. and 8.5% in China. But the World Bank is only projecting 2.9% growth among low-income countries, the slowest in the past 20 years (when setting aside the steep fallout of 2020).

"We are seeing this tale of two recoveries," World Bank Prospects Group Director Ayhan Kose told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday. "It is the best of times for a country like the U.S., delivering strong growth. It is the worst of times when you think about low-income countries. They are really struggling."

The World Bank report said that access to vaccines is the major concern for those countries at risk of being left behind. Kose urged advanced nations to donate vaccines to countries in need of supply.

At a G-7 meeting of the seven major economies, World Bank President David Malpass joined leaders of the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization in urging international support for $50 billion of financing to improve global access to vaccines.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (R) welcomes President of the World Bank Group David Malpass to the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting at Lancaster House, central London on June 4, 2021. - Group of Seven (G7) finance chiefs gather this week to hammer out an agreement on corporate tax harmonisation aimed at raising revenues as economies recover from the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Steve REIGATE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE REIGATE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (R) welcomes President of the World Bank Group David Malpass to the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting at Lancaster House, central London on June 4, 2021. - Group of Seven (G7) finance chiefs gather this week to hammer out an agreement on corporate tax harmonisation aimed at raising revenues as economies recover from the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Steve REIGATE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE REIGATE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Debt relief and inflation

The report also advised creditor nations to extend debt relief to help those countries, many of which lack the fiscal space to lift their economies out of the crisis.

Throughout the pandemic, the World Bank has called on the advanced nations to increase their transparency when making debt servicing agreements with developing countries.

The World Bank also weighed in on the prospects for inflation, noting that inflation since the depths of the pandemic have been the fastest among the last five global recessions.

“Inflation is going to be higher this year,” Kose told Yahoo Finance. “We are coming out of a deep recession. There is pent-up demand. Commodity prices are breaking records.”

The report said most countries with inflation-targeting central banks will likely be able to keep inflation within target.

In the United States, the Federal Reserve targets 2% year-over-year inflation. The most recent print on the personal consumption expenditures index showed prices rising by 3.6% year-over-year, although Fed officials have dismissed the recent string of high readings as temporary.

But in emerging market and developing economies, the World Bank worries that higher global inflation could “complicate” policy choices.

The concern: that higher prices out of the advanced economies could spillover across the world. Rising food prices in particular would increase food insecurity in low-income countries.

Kose recommends that countries steer away from installing price controls on food — and prioritize social safety nets that ensure access to food.

The World Bank adds that reducing trade barriers could also help.

Brian Cheung is a reporter covering the Fed, economics, and banking for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter @bcheungz.

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