Global trade is expanding once again above the long-term average but will be disrupted by labor and supply chain bottlenecks, amplified by omicron. We expect global trade volumes to grow by +5.4% this year, followed by +4.0% in 2023. During the next two to four months, we expect some lost value added in hard-hit sectors with low (or no) telework possibilities and higher supply chain driven-inflation due to production shortfalls in China. We expect a turning point during the second half of this year due to: (i) a cooling of consumer spending on durable goods; (ii) lower input shortages as inventories return to (or even exceed) pre-crisis levels in most sectors; and (iii) shorter delivery times as higher capacity eases shipping constraints.
We continue to expect pervasive supply-demand imbalances to keep inflation high until mid-2022. Inflation is likely to decelerate this year as the recovery becomes entrenched, mainly reflecting the phase-out of transitory factors, fading catch-up effects of goods demand and declining energy prices during the second half of the year. Central banks are shifting towards a more hawkish monetary stance to prevent inflation from becoming embedded in expectations. The fiscal impulse in Europe will be stronger than in the US this year but diminish quickly as most countries start their consolidation path. Most emerging market countries are reducing budget deficits and re-building fiscal space, but commodity exporters remain vulnerable to slowing external demand from China.
Gradually rising rates will continue to provide a benign but increasingly fragile capital market environment. Unchanged or even lower risk premia, declining real interest rates and excess savings have supported favorable financing conditions and helped risky assets outperform while fixed income assets have struggled amid rising inflation expectations. However, the positive risk sentiment underpinning historically high valuations in equity markets comes with rising market volatility and remains dependent on the continued growth momentum and the gradual removal of crisis-related policy measures.
What could go wrong? Despite the emergence of yet another virus mutation, the economic impact of the pandemic is generally weakening. We estimate that potential disruptions to labor markets due to sanitary restrictions could put 2-3% of the value added at risk in advanced economies. In addition, tighter financial conditions and greater divergence of fiscal and monetary policy normalization across countries could further increase imbalances and disrupt the recovery of international trade. As the gap between monetary and fiscal policy stances in Europe and the US is bound to widen, there is a rising risk of decoupling, which could feed into capital market dislocations. The spillover effects of higher capital outflows and FX volatility as the US begins to tighten financing conditions, the (largely) self-inflicted currency crisis in Turkey and rising uncertainty about the implications of slowing external demand from China could weigh on the outlook for emerging markets.