Brookings Institution-FT Index: US Only ‘Bright Spot’ in Global Economy

Monday, 08 Oct 2012 09:26 AM

By Barton Webster

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The United States is “the sole bright spot” in the global economy, even though it faces the threat of another recession despite coordinated monetary easing by major central banks, according to the latest Brookings Institution-Financial Times Tracking Indices for the Global Economic Recovery (TIGER) tracking index.

The latest report shows momentum in the global economy slackening despite action by the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England to boost the recovery, the Financial Times reported.

“The global economic recovery is on the ropes, battered by political conflicts within and across countries, lack of decisive policy actions and governments’ inability to tackle deep-seated problems such as unsustainable public finances that are stifling growth,” the report stated.

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: ‘Money From Heaven a Path to Hell.’ See Evidence.

“The U.S. economy remains the sole bright spot, with economic activity, employment and financial markets all showing unexpected although still modest strength.”

Economic data and confidence measures have deteriorated this year among the Group of 20 leading developed and emerging economies, with the exception of the United States. However, the United States is facing the presidential election next month and the possibility of falling off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

Financial markets, however, have held up, with the financial component of the index at its strongest since June 2011, the Times reported.

Economic momentum has also faltered in formerly strong economies, including the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China.)

The TIGER index combines measures of economic activity, financial variables and indicators of confidence, and can capture the co-movement of the data.

In its latest release of the index, the Brookings Institution produced a separate indicator for the peripheral European economies of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Among the five, only Ireland has avoided a decline toward the levels last seen during the financial and economic crisis of 2008 and 2009.

Fiscal policy and structural reforms are hobbled in most economies, forcing central banks to take the lead in sustaining the recovery.

“In the absence of a broader range of decisive policy measures — including fiscal, financial system and structural reforms needed in many countries — the world economy may soon be down for the count.”

The World Bank said Monday the developing economies of East Asia, which includes China, Thailand and Indonesia but excludes Japan and India, will grow at a 7.2 percent pace this year, down from a prior projection of 7.6 percent, The New York Times reported.

The U.S. fiscal cliff and the eurozone crisis continue to present “considerable risks” to the global outlook, according to The Times.

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: ‘Money From Heaven a Path to Hell.’ See Evidence.

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