Stark 2023 growth warning from IMF head

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund has cautioned that 2023 is going to be a “tough year”, with one-third of the world economy expected to be in recession. The three big economies, USA, EU and China, are slowing simultaneously, translating to negative trends globally. Kristalina Georgieva added in an interview with the CBS News programme Face the Nation that, while USA is most resilient and may avoid recession, the strong labour market is a “mixed blessing” as interest rates could remain tight to lower inflation.

Meanwhile, half of the EU – severely hit by the war in Ukraine – will be in recession this year and China, which in 2022 slowed dramatically because of its zero Covid policy, will slow down further (+4.4% growth in 2023 projected) as the relaxation of restrictions leads to soaring coronavirus cases. Overall, IMF forecasts that Advanced Economies will grow by 1.1% in 2023, while Emerging Market and Developing Economies will rise by 3.7%, led by India (+6.1%) but dragged down by Russia (-2.3%).

When asked what leaves her hopeful, Georgieva said: “I know when we work together, we can overcome the most dramatic challenges. In 2020, the world came together in the face of tremendous threat and was able to overcome this threat. In 2023, we have to do the same.” 

Nicholas Hall Writes: For most of 2022 I wrote in CHC.Newsflash about a market performing surprisingly well, but there was an implicit warning that the party would come to an end one day. Kristalina Georgieva, head of the IMF, has issued a stark warning of tough times ahead economically, but that is light reading compared with Nouriel Roubini’s new book, “Megathreats”, which highlights the 10 trends that imperil our future. Known by some as Dr Doom, Roubini prefers to be known as Dr Realistic, but in my estimation he is Dr Right as he called out many past mistakes with great foresight, including the debt binge that has made the global economy today almost unmanageable.

So how will these megathreats affect Consumer Health? In one sense, we are privileged as healthcare is a must-have category, and self-care will fill part of the vacuum left by the inability of healthcare providers to meet the needs of a growing and demographically-unbalanced population, about which Dr Roubini also writes persuasively. But consumers can only spend the money in their pockets, regardless of whether it is earned or borrowed, which is why I am so concerned about the future of CHC brands and why generics and private labels are now seen as the new growth segment.

I’m also concerned about the viability of retailers and even e-Commerce platforms, as the economic crisis will lower customer footfall and push up costs including the cost of borrowing, forcing thousands of outlets to close. We are already seeing that as a sub-plot of today’s global medicine shortages. Partly this is a story of unpredictable demand caused by the afterwave of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it also seems to me that the supply chain has become very fragile as companies look for ways to cut costs by reducing inventory to breaking point. So our 2023 mission here at the Nicholas Hall Group is to reassess the Strategic Narrative for Consumer Health and offer advice to clients and the industry at large on how to survive mega- and microthreats.

We are pleased to announce that experts from Haleon, Perrigo and PAGB, plus our sponsors Pharmalinea will take the stage alongside Nicholas at our 33rd European CHC Conference! See the all-new agenda here. Taking place in London on 19-21 April 2023, save with the early bird booking discount when you book your place before 19 January! For more information, or for group booking discounts and sponsorship opportunities, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com.

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