The UK entered 2020 negotiating a new economic relationship with the EU and facing other challenges, including meeting climate targets, dealing with an aging population, and reinvigorating tepid productivity growth. Growth and investment had been weak since the 2016 referendum, and the current account deficit elevated, but unemployment was low, inflation on target, and balance sheets strong. The global pandemic hit the UK hard in March, and the country now faces a second wave. The economic impact has been severe, but helped by an aggressive policy response, jobs have been preserved, businesses kept afloat, and banking sector losses contained. Still, the outlook for the near term is weak, as the economy works through the second wave, Brexit, rising unemployment, and corporate distress. Risks are overall to the downside, centering on the degree of balance sheet damage sustained by households and small and medium enterprises. The pace at which vaccines are able to bring the pandemic under control could be an important mitigating factor.
Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad, Selim Elekdag, Mr. Phakawa Jeasakul, Romain Lafarguette, Mr. Adrian Alter, Alan Xiaochen Feng, and Changchun Wang
The growth-at-risk (GaR) framework links current macrofinancial conditions to the distribution of future growth. Its main strength is its ability to assess the entire distribution of future GDP growth (in contrast to point forecasts), quantify macrofinancial risks in terms of growth, and monitor the evolution of risks to economic activity over time. By using GaR analysis, policymakers can quantify the likelihood of risk scenarios, which would serve as a basis for preemptive action. This paper offers practical guidance on how to conduct GaR analysis and draws lessons from country case studies. It also discusses an Excel-based GaR tool developed to support the IMF’s bilateral surveillance efforts.