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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

Age of scarcity begins with $1.6 trillion hit to world economy

The ties that bind the global economy together, and delivered goods in abundance across the world, are unravelling at a frightening pace.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s Covid Zero lockdowns are disrupting supply chains, hammering growth and pushing inflation to forty-year highs. They’re the chief reasons why Bloomberg Economics has lopped $1.6 trillion off its forecast for global GDP in 2022.

But what if that’s just an initial hit? War and plague won’t last forever. But the underlying problem – a world increasingly divided along geopolitical fault lines — only looks set to get worse.

Bloomberg Economics has run a simulation of what an accelerated reversal of globalization might look like in the longer term. It points to a significantly poorer and less productive planet, with trade back at levels before China joined the World Trade Organization. An additional blow: inflation would likely be higher and more volatile.

For investors, a world of nasty surprises on growth and inflation has little to cheer equity or bond markets. So far in 2022, commodities – where scarcity drives prices higher – have been among the big winners, along with companies that produce or trade them. Shares in defense firms have outperformed too, as global tensions soar.

“Fragmentation is going to stay,” says Robert Koopman, the WTO’s chief economist. He expects a “reorganized globalization” that will come with a cost: “We won’t be able to use low-cost, marginal-cost production as extensively as we did.”

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