(Bloomberg) — Three of the worlds’ most influential central banks slowed their pace of interest-rate hikes this week, acknowledging easing price pressures but stressing their jobs to stamp out inflation is far from over.
The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England raised rates by 50 basis points this week, following increases of 75 basis points. While the Fed’s decision was unanimous, some policymakers in Europe and the UK favored a more aggressive rise.
Here are some of the charts that appeared on Bloomberg this week on the latest developments in the global economy:
The Fed, ECB and BOE headlined a marathon week of central bank meetings. Officials in Mexico, Switzerland, Taiwan, the Philippines, Norway, Denmark and Colombia also raised borrowing costs, while Russia stayed on hold.
World debt as a share of gross domestic product plunged by the most in seven decades in 2021, but policymakers still face challenges because borrowing remains above pre-Covid-19 levels, the International Monetary Fund said. Total debt fell to 247% of global GDP last year. That’s 10 percentage points less than in 2020, but still the second-highest reading in history.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says the central bank has more work to do in raising interest rates and vanquishing inflation. Investors on Wall Street seem to see the outlook for 2023 differently. In a 45-minute press conference after the Fed hiked rates by 50 basis points to the highest level since 2007, Powell sought to dispel any notion that the central bank would back away from its fight to bring down inflation despite ebbing price pressures and mounting fears of job losses and a recession.
US inflation data offered the strongest evidence yet that price pressures have peaked, cheering financial markets and putting a pause from the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hikes in view. So-called core inflation — which excludes food and energy — rose just 0.2% in November, the smallest monthly advance since August 2021.
The European Central Bank increased interest rates by a half-point, with President Christine Lagarde telling investors to prepare for a long-running campaign of similar moves to quell the worst inflation in the history of the euro. Forecasts for inflation were raised for the next two years. It’s still seen above the 2% target in 2025.
The UK was given a moment of respite from the grim economic outlook in October as businesses recovered output lost following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. However, the figures will do little to lift the gloom hanging over an economy struggling with an historic cost-of-living crisis and possibly already in a lengthy recession.
Switzerland cut its growth forecast for next year again, but sees inflation slowing. With the fears of energy shortages during the coming months largely mitigated, Switzerland is expected to dodge a recession — economists predict only one quarter of contraction next year.
China’s economic activity weakened in November before the government abruptly dropped its Covid Zero policy, with a surge in infections in coming months likely to cause more turmoil and push policymakers to increase stimulus. Key data released Thursday showed business and consumer activity slumped to their weakest levels since the Shanghai lockdown in the spring.
Australia is aiming to ensure more people share in the benefits of a stronger economy via a new body that will convene this week to try to tackle disadvantage and increase economic participation. The 14-member committee of economists, academics and philanthropists will provide advice on economic inclusion such as policy settings and the effectiveness and sustainability of income support payments, the government said Thursday.
Brazil’s economy unexpectedly contracted according to the central bank’s main measure of activity, adding to signs that demand is slowing down following a cycle of aggressive interest rate hikes. The bank’s economic activity index, a proxy for gross domestic product, fell 0.05% on the month in October, compared to the median estimate for a 0.40% gain from analysts in a Bloomberg survey.
Protests in Peru could jeopardize global fruit supplies as the world’s biggest blueberry exporter faces political unrest while the growing season is in full swing. Peru’s fruit supplies are especially critical to the US, where drought and storms have decimated domestic produce crops, sending prices soaring.
—With assistance from Philip Aldrick, Andrew Atkinson, Bastian Benrath, Maria Eloisa Capurro, Elizabeth Elkin, Rich Miller, Ana Monteiro, Swati Pandey, Reade Pickert, Jana Randow, Andrew Rosati, Augusta Saraiva, Zoe Schneeweiss, Liza Tetley and Alexander Weber.