IMF backs Osborne – but warns of risks ahead

The International Monetary Fund today gave its backing to George Osborne’s public spending cuts and tax increases, and also highlighted the significant risks to growth and unemployment.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) today gave its backing to George Osborne’s public spending cuts and tax increases. This was despite being forced by recent weak data to revise down its forecast for UK real GDP growth in 2011 to 1.5 per cent. The Fund said that recent weak growth and high inflation were temporary and the result of unexpected increases in global commodity prices, including the oil price.


As such, it said, it would be wrong to change policy in response.

It also highlighted the role of low interest rates in supporting investment spending and exports. This has been seized upon by the chancellor as further evidence his approach has the support of international economic agencies (although the backing of the chief economist at the OECD now seems less strong than in the past).

Not that these agencies have a monopoly of wisdom. The IMF has already cut its forecast for UK growth in 2011 from 2.5% last April to 2% in November, 1.7% in April and now to 1.5%.

The IMF did, however, highlight the significant risks to growth and unemployment, and said that if they materialise, the policy response will depend on the nature of the shock. This could include temporary tax cuts and an increase in the scale of quantitative easing if growth was weak and inflation pressures eased.

The IMF’s latest report on the UK economy will have been put together before last week’s data showing a sharp fall in business confidence in May – data which brought a fresh round of calls for an immediate switch to Plan B, including from some previous supporters of the chancellor’s approach.

But neither the IMF nor the chancellor is going to change its mind as a result of one set of data releases.

However, if economic growth remains anaemic in the middle part of the year – and, crucially, if unemployment starts to increase again – calls for a new strategy will become louder. By the time the IMF next passes judgement on the UK in October, it might be feel the need to join in.

7 Responses to “IMF backs Osborne – but warns of risks ahead”

  1. Spir.Sotiropoulou

    RT @leftfootfwd: IMF backs Osborne – but warns of risks ahead //t.co/TAl3EA1

  2. 13eastie

    The IMF has publicly endorsed the Govt’s attempts to sort out the disastrous economic mess Gordon Brown created.

    Does LFF still think he should be made Managing Director? //www.leftfootforward.org/2011/05/the-case-for-gordon-brown-at-the-imf/

  3. mr. Sensible

    13eastie that’s a very simplistic reading.

    There’s a growing economic consensous emerging that the plan just isn’t working; I read last week that a Chinese rating agency has downgraded its credit rating for the UK.

  4. 13eastie

    You do understand that credit ratings (albeit spurious ones) are concerned with one’ s predicted ability to pay one’s debts as they becomes due?

    And what the effects of increasing or decreasing the rate at which one’s debt is growing would be on this?

    So you will doubtless be looking for more severe deficit reductions to make sure that gilt yields don’t suffer in the manner presaged by your Chinese friend?

  5. Selohesra

    I take it that we can all agree that it is good news that IMF think Osbourne is on the right track and that Ed^2s persistance in Plan B is wrong?

  6. Ed's Talking Balls

    It seems the IMF think Ed’s talking balls too.

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    […] Foot Forward’s Tony Dolphin wrote of the report: “It also highlighted the role of low interest rates in supporting investment […]

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