The economy is being buffeted by growing concerns over the US president’s trade war

How does the current global economic outlook compare to that of a year ago? In 2017, the world economy was undergoing a synchronised expansion, with growth accelerating both in advanced economies and emerging markets. Moreover, despite stronger growth, inflation was tame – if not falling – even in economies such as the United States, where goods and labour markets were tightening.

Stronger growth with inflation still below target allowed unconventional monetary policies either to remain in full force, as in the eurozone and Japan, or to be rolled back very gradually, as in the US. The combination of strong growth, low inflation and easy money implied that market volatility was low. And with the yields on government bonds also very low, investors’ animal spirits were running high, boosting the price of many risky assets.

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