Inflation, recession? What next for the global economy? Three experts dig into the latest Chief Economists Outlook

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Robin Pomeroy, Podcast Editor, World Economic Forum


  • Over 50 Chief Economists from all over the world have shared their views on the global economy in the World Economic Forum’s Chief Economist Outlook report.
  • Inflation, growth and cost of living are at the top of most economists’ agendas, with the vast majority predicting real wages will drop in almost every economy.
  • There are silver linings, however: the chance to reset economies and businesses for the future, digital transformation and increasing competitiveness are all potential upsides.

What’s going on in the global economy? It is a question that the World Economic Forum’s Community of Chief Economists seeks to answer every three months with its Chief Economists Outlook.

In this episode of Radio Davos, three experts weigh up the impacts of a likely global recession and look at the painful policy choices facing governments and central banks.

See below for a full transcript.

Read the Chief Economists Outlook here.

You can watch the launch of the report here:

Radio Davos episode transcript

This transcript has been generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio.

Saadia Zahidi, World Economic Forum: The last time we did this was in May 2022, and the headline was that we are in the midst of a perfect storm. Now we’re looking at a situation that became worse and the outlook has darkened.

Robin Pomeroy, Radio Davos: Welcome to Radio Davos, the podcast from the World Economic Forum that looks at the biggest challenges and how we might solve them.

This week we’re looking at the latest Chief Economists Outlook, a quarterly report from the World Economic Forum that pulls together the opinions of scores of experts from around the world.

Well, let’s start with the bad news.

Rima Bhatia, Group Economic Adviser, Gulf International Bank: Are we heading in for a recession? The likelihood is, yes.

Santitarn Sathirathai, Group Chief Economist, Sea: It is going to have an impact on poverty and impact on inequality as well, it’s going to hurt those who are most fragile.

Saadia Zahidi: Unsurprisingly, social unrest is expected to continue to rise.

Robin Pomeroy: High inflation, low growth. These economists tell us what they expect from policymakers.

Rima Bhatia: Central banks dislike inflation. They are going to try and suppress it as much as they can, but they will ultimately have to accept it’ll be higher than what they have been traditionally wanting.

Robin Pomeroy: Some economists believe the recession is of a type that will make it short-lived, and that inflation could peak in months.

Guy Miller, Chief Market Strategist, Zurich Insurance: Peak inflation? I suspect, peaking inflation. We’ll get the proof points of that, I think, between now and year-end.

Rima Bhatia: Supply side type of recession that is manageable. Once many of these situations get resolved, supply will bounce back, as will growth.

Robin Pomeroy: Subscribe to Radio Davos wherever you get your podcasts, leave us a rating and a review, and join us on the World Economic Forum Podcast Club on Facebook.

I’m Robin Pomeroy at the World Economic Forum, and with a look at what next for the global economy…

Saadia Zahidi: We are talking about millions of people being impacted. For some that’s going to be manageable, but for many, it is not.

Robin Pomeroy: This is Radio Davos.

What’s going on in the global economy? It is a question that the World Economic Forum’s Community of Chief Economists seeks to answer every three months with its Chief Economists Outlook. The latest episode is just out. You can read the whole report online and it is not, for the most part, a very easy read.

Because, for large parts of the world inflation is high and rising, cutting deep into people’s real incomes – and posing dilemmas for policymakers in governments and central banks who want to stop prices spiralling but also want to avoid a deep, lengthy economic recession.

So what will happen? In this episode we get the views of three experts: Rima Bhatia, Economic Adviser at Gulf International Bank in Bahrain; Guy Miller, who’s at Zurich Insurance as Chief Market Strategist, and Santi Sathirathai, Chief Economist at the Singapore-based internet company Sea.

They were speaking at the launch of the Chief Economists Outlook which was hosted by the World Economic Forum’s Adrian Monck. Adrian began by asking the person who put the report together, the Forum’s Saadia Zahidi, to read off some of the headlines from the Outlook. Here’s Saadia.

Saadia Zahidi: The Chief Economists Outlook is the views of 50 of the top chief economists from various sectors, various geographies, telling us where the global economy is headed. We do this exercise every few months. The last time we did this was in May 2022, and the headline was that we are in the midst of a perfect storm. Now, here in September, we’re looking at a situation that became worse and the outlook has darkened.

So, for example, this time, 70% of our respondents believe that the global economy is headed for a recession within the course of 2022 or sometime in 2023.

Now, at the same time, the picture does look different around different parts of the world. And we have to be conscious that what is happening right now in Europe is not quite the picture around the world. Europe is certainly the area in greatest trouble, if you will, when we look at the results of the outlook. So, for example, nine out of ten respondents expect growth to be weak or very weak when it comes to Europe.

Respondents are marginally less pessimistic when it comes to China, with 67% expecting weak or very weak growth in 2022 with things looking a little better in ’23.

The United States is the opposite. Things look pretty good at the moment, but there is a sense that growth may be weaker when it comes to 2023.

The Middle East and North Africa region looks set to perform particularly well. Seven out of ten respondents expecting growth. And again, not surprising given where energy prices currently are.

And South Asia. generally positive outlook. But the set of people that are expecting a negative outlook has grown from the last time we did this, it was 7% in May. It’s 20% this time around.

In Central Asia, the set of people that are expecting growth to become weaker has risen again from 20% to 40%.

And finally, when it comes to sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, the picture is mixed. In sub-Saharan Africa, now a solid majority, 60%, are expecting a slowdown in growth in 2023. Whereas in Latin America, things are looking a little more upbeat, with a solid 56% expecting moderate growth.

In addition, there are a number of other trends that get highlighted in this month’s Chief Economists Outlook. Inflation is expected to remain very high, although the outlook is better than it was in May. Real wages, unsurprisingly, will continue to fall and are expected to not keep pace with this rise in prices. Around nine in ten expect real wages to decline in low-income economies and eight in ten in developing economies. Food and energy prices continue to remain very large risks.

And, unsurprisingly, social unrest is expected to continue to rise as the cost of living continues to bite some of the lowest income across developing and developed economy populations.

Growth and a potential recession

Adrian Monck: Rima, can I turn to you. You’re based in the Middle East. How does it look from your perspective? Are we heading into a truly global recession?

Rima Bhatia: I think to answer that question around recession, you know, it’s really important to put things into perspective. First and foremost, we started 2022 on a relatively positive note – we were still trying to deal with a lot of the variants of COVID. There was the inflation concern, central bank concern, but it was something that obviously appeared quite manageable. I mean, what a difference a quarter makes. By the end of March, we were in a completely different situation, with the Russia-Ukraine conflict as well as the China lockdowns. I mean, that certainly just changed that entire global narrative into negative.

But it’s really important to highlight here, rather than regurgitating all that’s been going on, I think it’s really important to highlight that we are traversing through this new world of policy paradoxes stormy conditions and a lot of opportunities at the same time. I mean, that’s all occurring at the same time. So are we heading in for a recession? The likelihood is, yes, that, you know, given how the slowdown is transpiring, I think we are heading in for a slowdown now, how severe that slowdown is, and how much of it you want to label as a recession — I think it depends.

But this is supply shock. And that’s something we have to keep in mind. The global environment is where it is today because of the war and the impact on supply, because of COVID lockdowns and the impact on supply, and because of the pandemic and supply was still trying to recover from there. So all the story is around that.

I think it’s really important to keep that in mind that, if one were to see China coming out of this lockdown, which it looks like they’re already starting to ease some of that pressure, and we are seeing the impact of central bank action on demand, which is going to tackle some part of that inflation, then we are seeing inflationary pressures coming down. So I think then we’re looking at a more reasonable environment of prices.

And that in itself will mean that from a global growth perspective, things are going to slow down. Things are going to look worse than they are today. But with the inflation situation improving, I think growth will start to pick up thereafter.

The supply side is really important to highlight because that is a type of recession that is manageable. Once many of these situations get resolved, supply will bounce back, as will growth. And I think it’s really important to focus on that on that point.

The inflation horizon

One of the potential silver linings that we have seen in past few years was the increase in digital adoption, which has happened a lot, especially in emerging markets.”— Santitarn Sathirathai, Group Chief Economist, Sea Limited

Adrian Monck: Thanks Rima. Guy, if I can turn to you, Rima spoke about some of the things that are impacting on the supply side. The Chinese government will transition in March 2023 with some optimistic signs that there might be a loosening in some of the lockdown restrictions by then. What’s your inflation horizon? Have we hit the peak or are we just surfing the crest of the wave?

Guy Miller: Yeah, maybe just to pick up a little bit from what Rima said, I mean, the supply side has clearly been an issue. And, you know, we are more optimistic on that as well, seeing some of the bottlenecks really ease up. We’re seeing, whether it’s supply delivery times, inventories, backlogs, all of that is getting better.

I think one of the big issues right now for the central banks in particular, of course, is actually on the demand side. And again, this relates back to the pandemic, the excesses that we had seen from that that resulted in consumers, in particular, having more money in their pockets, more money in cash reserves, and an insatiable demand almost for the things that they couldn’t buy during the last two or three years. So we have seen that transition from the goods side, which was clearly out of balance towards the service sector.

But that still leaves the central banks with a problem because as you said, inflation is still way above their targets, and you’ve got pretty much full employment in most economies. And how do you deal with that? And really, the only way they can deal with that is by trying to frankly reduce the demand by slowing down the economy through hiking interest rates.

And from that perspective, my concern actually is that we are almost in a race to the top. Really since June, we’ve seen a dramatic pick-up in the number and the scale of these rate hikes that we’re seeing. And we all know that takes quite a long time to feed into the real economies. And they’re not being able to take breaths right now because there’s so much pressure, given the high levels of inflation, to keep going, to keep moving these rates higher.

But to that point, again, as we look further right, we’re a little bit more optimistic in terms of the inflation side as well. Clearly, these much higher rates will have an impact in slowing demand. You just need to look at the U.S. housing market, where we’re seeing 30-year mortgage rates jump from 3% in December to 6.5% now. This is having a tangible impact on the demand for homes. It has a tangible impact in terms of consumers being able to fund their borrowing and their debt costs. So that will slow I think on the demand side as well.

And if you put that together with a lot of the things that people don’t talk about anymore, remember we were all concerned about chip prices, lumber prices, steel, copper prices. All of these things a year ago were in everybody’s newspapers. Right now, these things that I just mentioned, they’re not down 2-3%, but they’re down 10, 15, 20, in some cases 50 and 60% from the highs that we had seen last year.

So a combination, I think, of these supply-side measures that Rima spoke about, the commodity price, the base effects beginning to kick in, and frankly, a precipitous slowdown in global growth, particularly in areas such as Europe and the U.S., I think ultimately will pull these inflation numbers down quite dramatically as we get into the back end of this year. So peak inflation, I suspect, peaking inflation. And again, we’ll get the proof points of that, I think, between now and year-end.

Adrian Monck: Thanks, Guy. Santi, just turning to you from Singapore, what is your perspective on some of the things that businesses and policymakers should be doing to tackle this very immediate cost of living crisis that’s impacting employees, it’s impacting firms, and it’s impacting governments?

Santitarn Sathirathai: I think that’s one of the very important issues facing policymakers and business alike.

I think one of the key things to remember is that this inflation is a real squeeze on purchasing power. I think it’s also coming out in the survey, that most people believe that wages are not really keeping up with this spike in inflation, and especially when you consider, as Rima and Guy said, that all this inflation is coming from the supply side disruptions as well, and is very concentrated around energy, around food to some extent as well, all of this is going to be a very large proportion of the basket of purchase of the lower income groups. So this is going to have an impact on poverty and impact on inequality as well, is going to hurt those who are most fragile at the bottom of the pyramid, so to speak. So I think that’s kind of like the difficult policy question, and kind of the key of focus that policymakers have their focus on.

I think a couple of things they can do to kind of address this issue — at least probably I have like three things come to mind.

I think first and foremost is that we have to recognize that actually, playing on the theme that Rima said, that is not all bad. In fact, as we are seeing economic slowdown, especially in merchandise and goods market, we actually are seeing a bit of a switch back to the service economy. If you look around the world in the past two years, of course, tourism has been totally absent and we’ve been relying on export of merchandise to drive growth globally in a lot of economies. Now we are seeing that tourism is coming back and that’s continuing to to see a good recovery.

And, of course, if China also lifted the restrictions, that can really kind of provide another boost. And that’s really important for a lot of the economies, especially in the region that I’m looking at. So that kind of trip back towards tourism and service economy is going to be really important. These are the sectors which provide a lot of employment opportunities as well. So I think that for the government, you have to make sure that this improvement in mobility, in tourism continues. We don’t want another disruption to that to happen on top of these kind of slowdown in the goods and merchandise markets.

Secondly is to turn to perhaps the policy mix. Of course, monetary policy is going to be focusing on inflation right now, but fiscal policy is a potential avenue to help shield some of these shocks, especially to the lower income groups. A lot of the countries are not going to have as much fiscal ammunition and policy space as they did before the pandemic, because they have used up a lot of that fighting the pandemic. But they still have, many countries, will still have some space in order to do a more targeted approach to, so to speak, deliver the proverbial medicine to those who need it most. And I think that’s where the data becomes very important, because you want to deliver this precise fiscal stimulus, only to target, at least help cushion them against different kind of shocks.

And last but not least, I think we don’t talk about this anymore for some reason, but actually, one of the potential silver linings that we have seen in past few years was the increase in digital adoption, which has happened a lot, especially in emerging markets.

In Southeast Asia, for example, you’ve seen about 100 million new digital users ,or even greater than that, in the past few years. And these are traditionally the people who don’t really use digital tools in the past before. So now they come online to use digital payments. They use e-commerce, many things. There is a lot more data about them. There are a lot more opportunities for them to connect to the markets. And the question for the next part is really how can we leverage this technology and access to technology and digital adoption to better help these underserved groups so that they can weather this storm better?

So I think those are kind of three key pillars: ensure mobility, targeted fiscal response and ensure technology can really help serve more inclusive growth.

The risk of stagflation

The central banks are still being very clear about their mandate, they are absolutely fixated on bringing inflation back towards their targets, and that is taking priority over the growth dynamics … It is acting as a backstop, and it’s also why having these independent central banks is so important.”— Guy Miller, Chief Market Strategist and Head of Macroeconomics, Zurich Insurance

Adrian Mock: Thanks, Santi. Got some questions here from some journalists. Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson from the Financial Times has a couple of questions to put to the panel. Firstly, where do you see the most pronounced risks for stagflation? And secondly, is it the panel’s view that we’re entering a new economic regime in which inflation remains more elevated than in the past, and where we’re subject to more volatile supply chain issues on a sustained basis? So a couple of very big questions there from Andrew at the FT. Guy, do you want to jump in first on stagflation?

Stagflation

Guy Miller: Well, I guess in terms of the region most vulnerable — I would say it is the Eurozone. It is a region that has typically lower trend growth. And as a result of that, it’s always inevitable that that growth dynamic is going to be at risk. And what we’re seeing here is a combination of that slower trend growth, combined of course with this exogenous shock in terms of the energy component.

So I think it’s fairly clear that certainly for probably the coming year that this region is going to fit that definition of stagflation. I think as we get further out, I think some of the policies around the NextGen recovery fund, the potential to move to sustainable energy sources, that has the potential to improve things. And again, going back to what Rima said earlier, it’s not just bad news. We have to take these changes, these sort of seismic shifts to be opportunities to reposition some of these economies. I think that’s absolutely first and foremost.

To the point about inflation rates running higher going forward, I have some sympathy with that. I mean, let’s be clear about one thing. The central banks are still being very clear about their mandate, they are absolutely fixated on bringing inflation back towards their targets, and that is taking priority over the growth dynamics. So that’s something in a way that’s important. It is acting as a backstop, and it’s also why having these independent central banks is so important.

But when you look over the last 15 or 20 years, we saw persistent goods price deflation. And that was one of the reasons why we saw the aggregate inflation numbers being held down. Service sector inflation was always running a bit hotter. The question really is: is that going to be the dynamic going forward? And I suspect not to the same extent. I think the goods sector is going to be running a little bit higher than we’ve seen in the past for various structural reasons around geopolitics and trade. But I think it is going to be more marginal. It’s still going to be around these targets, even if they are slightly more on the higher side rather than the lower side. So, yes, but to a lesser extent, I think to answer the question.

Adrian Monck: And Rima, do you share that view from Guy there on some of those risks?

Rima Bhatia: Yes. I think well, if we talk about inflation first. I think ultimately the central banks are going to have to tolerate a higher level of inflation. I mean, how far can they raise rates before bringing inflation down to that 2%? I mean, I think that’s no longer realistic in today’s world. There’s so much disruption that has occurred and getting back to a more normal, functioning supply chain, global supply chain, at a time when there’s all this talk of de-globalization, there’s all the talk about nearshoring of supply chains, I think these are potent pressures which are going to keep prices elevated for some time to come.

And I think ultimately it’s just a question of the central banks coming around to accepting a higher rate and then allowing policy to normalize and allowing global growth to continue.

If we continue on this path to bring it down to 2%, I think that that is going to be unachievable. Achievable at the cost, at a very, very painful cost, of shattering the global momentum. So I think part of it is to sort that out.

We also have so many other issues: the labour market, what’s been happening in the labour market post the pandemic. I mean, those are major shifts that are under way. There is a shift in terms of how we work, how we deliver. All of those are coming into this understanding around inflation. So I think central banks dislike inflation. They are going to try and suppress it as much as they can, but they will ultimately have to accept that it’ll be higher than what they have been traditionally wanting to achieve.

Adrian Monck: Santi, we heard that from Rima about the pressures we’re seeing on the global labour market. You mentioned the digital growth that we’ve seen in some areas, are there opportunities there to bring those people anew into the global labour market using the kind of digital delivery of services and other things?

Santitarn Sathirathai: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, to kind of point to one of the questions that was asked as well, are we entering a period of higher volatility, I think that’s definitely one of the key features we should be assuming, looking forward, and how business should adapt to that. And then again, I think you’d bring back to the question of the potential of technology, what it can do. I think one key example that we’ve been working a lot with looking at and researching is understanding how the small and medium-scale enterprises, which of course were really heavily impacted during the COVID times, were able to use digital technologies such as e-commerce so that they can reach new customers in different markets. Even the small firms can become exporters across borders, and that allows them to diversify their markets even if the markets are hit by sudden shocks, demand slowdowns, supply shocks, they have more avenue to sell to multiple markets. And I think that’s a good example where you can achieve somewhat better diversification, because costs of such diversification become lower and more accessible for the smaller companies. So I think that’s one of the good examples.

The other example would be within the area of digital financial services or fintech, a lot of financial services have become very important shock absorbers, whether it’s for these small and medium scale enterprises, as mentioned, or other lower income groups as well. And that’s where the technology can potentially help because some of these groups normally would not have access to commercial banks’ credit because they lack collateral, because they lack established credit history. But technologies have brought about the ability to use alternative data for them to access this kind of credit, these kinds of loans, at a time when they need it most, at a time when it’s a macro slowdown, it’s not really to their own fault, but because the global macro is turning against them. So I think these are some of the examples where you can really help the underserved population using technologies.

It’s not going to happen automatically, though. All of these things require efforts to improve digital literacy. You need to improve access to the internet, you need to lower the cost of devices. Some of this requires policy and the private sector to come together.

How businesses can prepare

Businesses have to change. This has been the story since the pandemic started. Businesses no longer can continue on the path that they were at. That’s the opportunity and that’s the silver lining.”— Rima Bhatia, Group Economic Adviser, Gulf International Bank

Adrian Monck: One more question, from the Straits Times’ Shefali Rekhi, who says: “In the picture of doom and gloom, is there a silver lining that we should look forward to? And also, what would your advice be to businesses in terms of their priorities in the coming quarters?”

Rima, can I ask you, is there, from where you’re sitting, a silver lining to the current situation? And what would your advice be to businesses as they look to prepare themselves for the coming year ahead?

Rima Bhatia: That’s a great question because, yes, certainly there’s a silver lining, and I think that is what we need to focus on in these in these rather dramatic times.

We’ve got some very strong disruptors and accelerators that have come out of the pandemic. Some of these trends were there before the pandemic. But, you know, global growth was actually quite weak prior to the pandemic. There was a lot of concern about where we were heading. The pandemic has provided this opportunity to really move forward on so many fronts. Sustainability, ESG, whether we’re talking of changing of supply chains, looking at health, health care, health tech, reforms in that sector, you know, looking at digital transformation, which is such a key part — it is impacting every industry around the world. And, you know, there’s this whole view towards ensuring that all business models are data- and service-driven.

These are these are big shifts. These are big changes. These are megatrends which provide opportunity for businesses which are willing to see through all of this noise that we are in at the moment, see through all of the storms that we are traveling through, and to have clear goals towards how to take advantage of these opportunities because these are truly there for businesses to grow on.

Businesses have to change. This has been the story since the pandemic started. Businesses no longer can continue on the path that they were at.

That’s the opportunity and that’s the silver lining. And that’s something that I think provides a lot of momentum, a lot of growth. Where we entered the pandemic on a relatively strong note, we’ve come out of the pandemic, households and businesses, on a relatively strong note, whether it’s in terms of savings, whether it’s in terms of businesses not having spent for the last couple of years. I think all of that provides the chance that investment can be put to good use.

There are concerns around economic policies being introduced by some economies around the world. But I think at the broader level, even if you look into ESG and sustainability, that’s come at the forefront of every industry. Businesses as well as boards are now getting involved to try and shape our future. The millennials, the younger population, are forcing us to take a look at our business models to pay attention to the mark that we are going to leave on this planet. So I think that in itself is a huge opportunity that we need to start taking advantage of. And that is happening as we speak.

Adrian Monck: Santi, reasons for optimism from where you’re sitting in Singapore?

Santitarn Sathirathai: In every crisis there’s always opportunities like this. And I think as Rima said, I think the key is to look at some of the key issues that emerge and coalesce and galvanize all of us to focus on, whether its sustainability, health care and digital transformation.

I think if I may, I can add a little bit more to the second part of the question on that as well, because I think it’s related to this, because from a business perspective, if you think about this crisis, it is also an opportunity because you know that if you can emerge from this better than the others, then you’re going to be even stronger than before. And we have seen the previous downturn and previous crisis have seen this happening as well.

And so what is it that needs to be done to weather this storm better? In my view, my humble opinion, is probably a mix of two things at least.

One is to achieve better kind of risk diversification, I think, in a more volatile and a more uncertain world that’s the key thing. And this can include diversification in terms of geography, where the market is you’re selling to, your supply chain. It also could mean diversification in terms of business sector.

But all of this is not free. Of course, there are costs of diversification. It may come at a cost of efficiency. And so you need to adapt that through time. There will be times when it’s better to focus on your core business, your core markets, and just go there and be very focused. And there’ll be times where you really need to diversify and manage risk better. And that mix between the two sides is going to keep changing and it’s different for everyone. I think for businesses, it’s about finding that sweet spot and adjust it through time. So adaptability becomes really important. So you need to be diversifying your risk. Managing risk well. You need to be adaptable, highly adaptable and agile all the time. And if you can do both you’re going to get opportunities where you’re going to emerge better than other people.

Adrian Monck: Thanks Santi and Guy, just the last word on optimism to you.

Guy Miller: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s a lot of things to be optimistic about. In the very big global level, there’s a transition, as I said, to sustainable energy that creates many opportunities, both for companies and importantly for governments. But we must take that.

I think we’re also reaching a technology inflection point as well. I think that while we are moving towards, it would appear, a more bipolar world around technology, that can create an opportunity for a competitive striving to be better and can create many opportunities around that, so I’m quite optimistic about that as well.

I think, one other thing is that I think there’s going to be less central bank providing unlimited liquidity that we’ve seen really over the last ten or 15 years. And that is quite a good thing. It is maybe Darwinian and it will be leading to the survival of the fittest. Companies that are in the best position will do the best.

Which leads me to the last point, which is around how do companies weather this. And it’s going to be about sustainability, it’s going to be about resilience. It’s going to be making sure that they are flexible, that they have improved their supply chains, not necessarily bringing things back onshore, but diversifying up supply chains, particularly for key components, making their business model more secure, more resilient to get through the downturn, which unfortunately we’re going to be coming into. But to benefit once that upturn comes again and things are looking more normal, I think there’s great potential there for companies and, importantly, for governments as well to reposition.

Adrian Monck: Saadia, just turning to you to bring our discussion of this Global Economic Outlook to a close, it’s probably one of the gloomier and darker reports that you and your team have produced in the last few years. But are the signs of optimism that you draw from it, and other conclusions that we perhaps should should pay attention to?

Saadia Zahidi: When we look at the survey as a whole and everything that’s come out, there’s probably two things that we really need to focus on.

One, vulnerability has increased for large parts of the global population, both in developed economies and in developing economies. And I think that’s where some of these numbers and some of this gloomier outlook has to get translated into the real human impact that is expected. And that’s where the 90% are expecting that real wages are going to fall in developing economies, 80% in developed economies. So we are talking about millions of people being impacted as that cost of living begins to bite. And for some that’s going to be manageable, but for many, it is not going to be manageable.

The second element that I think we have to look for is that the trend towards the globalization that we were seeing also a few months earlier, and that was really sort of the peak of the conversation once the war in Ukraine began, I think there are still signs that this is going to continue and is going to be one of those profound megatrends for some time to come.

So when we ask companies what they’re expecting to do and how they’re going to adapt to some of these changes, most are expecting to diversify their supply chains, localize their supply chains, and many are expecting to adapt to the new geopolitical fault line. So geopolitics and geoeconomics is here to stay for some time.

At the same time, while there are some silver linings and, to the point that everybody has made here, +++

So, one, towards the green transition. And we have a very mixed picture from the chief economists. About half are not quite certain that the push towards the green transition will continue in the same way that we were seeing some months ago. And I think that is definitely something to watch out for in the midst of this energy crisis.

The second element is that shift towards re-skilling, to better prepare the labour market for the future of work. Again, there was a very concerted effort around this and this was at a peak in the midst of the pandemic. This has to be pushed through very proactively by governments if they want their labour markets to be prepared.

To the point on safety nets, the cost of safety nets can go down, again, using some of these new technologies. So whether it’s ed-tech, health-tech, micro-insurance, a lot can be done. But, again, it is going to take effort from governments and from the private sector as well to go into some of these new and emerging areas.

So I agree that there are silver linings, but I think it’s going to take coordination and multi-stakeholder cooperation.

Robin Pomeroy: Saadia Zahidi ending that discussion of the Chief Economists Outlook which was moderated by Adrian Monck. You can find the whole report on our website weforum,org.

We’ve done several episodes on the global economy, including last week’s Radio Davos on inflation – please do go back and find that one. And check out our other podcasts, Meet the Leader, Agenda Dialogues and the World Economic Forum Book Club Podcast.

If you like these podcasts, please do me a small but valuable favour and leave us a rating – and maybe a review. And if you want to talk to us and other listeners of our podcasts about our podcasts and other podcasts, please join us on the World Economic Forum Podcast club – look for that on Facebook.

This episode of Radio Davos was written and presented by me, Robin Pomeroy. Studio production was by Gareth Nolan.

We’ll be back next week, but for now thanks to you for listening and goodbye.

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