Macroeconomic environment

The economic slowdown has continued in recent months, with differences emerging among the main geographic areas. Growth was stronger than expected in the United States, relatively weak in the Eurozone and surprisingly weak in China. High inflation, tightening monetary conditions and the gradual fading of the positive effects of the reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic all contributed to the slowing of global growth. However, economic activity continues to benefit from the dynamism of the labor markets and the relative easing of the supply shocks triggered by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Falling commodity prices compared to the levels seen in 2022—despite the recent upward trend in oil prices—and improvements in production process bottlenecks supported a softening of headline inflation, which, in annual terms, reached 3.7% in the United States and 4.3% in the Eurozone in September. Core inflation measures, however, still show no significant improvement.

In this context, although the possibility of further adjustments in the coming months cannot be ruled out, the trend of interest rate hikes seems to have come to an end. BBVA Research believes that an eventual reduction in inflation in the coming months will most likely prevent further interest rate hikes. Rates are expected to remain at restrictive levels for a longer period than expected, at around 5.50% until mid-2024 in the United States and 4.50% until the end of 2024 in the Eurozone. Moreover, measures to reduce liquidity by the U.S. Federal Reserve ("Fed") and the European Central Bank ("ECB") are expected to continue to contribute to the monetary tightening.

BBVA Research forecasts that global growth will gradually taper off, reaching 2.9% in 2023 (unchanged from the forecast of three months ago) and 3.0% in 2024 (10 basis points higher than the previous forecast). In the United States, strong domestic demand supports an upward revision of growth forecasts to 2.3% in 2023 and 1.5% in 2024 (respectively, 120 and 90 basis points higher than the previous forecast) and makes a recession unlikely. In China, recent stimulus measures are expected to help avoid a sharp slowdown in activity. However, growth forecasts have been revised downward to 4.8% in 2023 and 4.4% in 2024 (respectively, 90 and 40 points lower than the previous forecast). In the Eurozone, economic expansion is likely to be more modest than expected, at around 0.4% in 2023 and 1.0% in 2024 (respectively, 40 and 30 basis points less than the previous forecast). In addition, the slowing of global growth is expected to encourage a gradual reduction in inflation, which, however, will remain above inflation targets in the United States and the Eurozone until at least the end of 2024.

Uncertainty remains high, and a number of factors could lead to more adverse scenarios unfolding. Persistently high inflation and interest rates could trigger a deep and widespread recession, as well as new bouts of financial volatility. Moreover, the slowdown in China could proceed more sharply and more severely than anticipated. Finally, another key risk is that the current geopolitical turbulence will eventually feed through to higher energy prices.


Source: BBVA Research estimates.