In a bleaker assessment than those of most private forecasters, the World Bank predicted Sunday that the global economy would shrink in 2009 for the first time since World War II.
The bank did not provide a specific estimate, but bank officials said its economists would be publishing one in the next several weeks.
Until now, even extremely pessimistic forecasters have predicted that the global economy would eke out a tiny expansion but had warned that even a growth rate of 5 percent in China would be a disastrous slowdown, given the enormous pressure there to create jobs for the country's rural population.
The World Bank also warned that global trade would contract for the first time since 1982, and that the decline would be the biggest since the 1930s.
And things ain't so rosy according to the International Monetary Fund, either. From a Wash Post story:
Some fear that nations in Western Europe such as Austria, Ireland and Spain—believed to have graduated from IMF lifelines decades ago—may soon require bailouts, taking funds that would have been spent on poorer nations. It could also prove difficult to raise more money from hard-hit countries including the United States and Britain, where politicians and citizens may decide that charity begins at home.
"I'm worried about what happens when you see that a Greece or an Ireland that might need bailouts," said Simon Johnson, an MIT economics professor and former IMF chief economist. "Where is the money going to come from?"