Global economic growth is projected to barely exceed 2% this year, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
Falling energy prices, slowing inflation in most countries from multi-year highs, unexpectedly resilient eurozone economies and a rebound in China have led traders to assume that the downturn will be more moderate.
That led the MSCI All-Country World Stock Index to rise nearly 20% from its October lows, hitting a five-month high, despite higher risk, central banks keeping interest rates high longer rather than lowering them.
But economists in general were much less optimistic, lowering growth forecasts for this year and next year to 2.1% and 2.8%, respectively, from 2.3% and 3.0% in the October 2022 survey. Their more somber mood was contradicted by some notable improvements from banks in recent weeks.
Nevertheless, some of the loudest names from Wall Street decried expectations that the U.S. economy will make it through 2023 without a recession.
The 2023 growth forecast lags far behind the International Monetary Fund's forecast of 2.7%, which was released in October and is due for an update next week. The latest Reuters poll of more than 500 economists, covering 45 countries, was conducted Jan. 5-25.
More than two-thirds of respondents, 130 out of 195, said the bigger risk to the outlook for global growth is that it will be even slower than they currently expect.
Much will depend on how successful the world's major central banks can be as a result of roughly a year of historically aggressive interest rate hikes that have yet to end. The full impact of the rate hikes could be evident in the economy in a year or more.
Consensus forecasts of gross domestic product growth for 2023 for more than 80 percent of the countries surveyed were downgraded from the October survey.
Inflation forecasts for this year in nearly 80% of countries surveyed, 35 of 45, were up from the October survey, suggesting that global central banks have been leaning toward tighter monetary policy for an extended period of time.
When asked to list the biggest threat to global economic growth in 2023, more than 85% of economists, 171 of 196, were almost evenly split between monetary tightening (90) and persistently higher inflation (81).
Fifteen pointed to the Russia-Ukraine war, eight pointed to a correction in asset prices, one to the resurgence of COVID-19, and one to weaker-than-expected labor markets.