Table of Contents

  • The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019 is a joint product of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the five United Nations regional commissions (Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)).

  • The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019 offers timely warnings about a range of macroeconomic challenges facing policymakers as they aim to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

  • Urgent and concrete policy action is needed to reduce risks to the global economy and secure the foundations for stable and sustainable economic growth. A dynamic and inclusive global economy is central to delivering the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Policymakers must work to contain short-term risks from financial vulnerabilities and escalating trade disputes, while advancing a longer-term development strategy towards economic, social and environmental goals. Decisive policy actions rely on a multilateral, cooperative and long-term approach to global policymaking in key areas, including combatting climate change, sustainable finance, sustainable production and consumption, and redressing inequality. This also requires progress towards a more inclusive, flexible and responsive multilateral system.

  • On the surface, global economic growth appears robust. The world economy is projected to expand at a steady pace of 3 per cent in 2019 and 2020. Growth rates in many developed economies have risen near to what is widely considered their potential, while unemployment rates have fallen towards historical lows. Among the developing economies, the East and South Asia regions remain on a strong growth trajectory, while many commodity-exporting countries are continuing a gradual recovery. However, a closer look below this surface reveals significant shortcomings in the foundations and quality of global economic growth.

  • In tandem with the solid global growth performance over the past two years, countries have continued to advance efforts towards attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Three years into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, many countries are in the process of aligning their national development plans and strategies with the SDGs. At the 2018 High-level Political Forum (HLPF), 47 countries presented their voluntary national reviews (VNRs), which took stock of their achievements and challenges, as well as identified the next steps in implementing the Agenda.

  • Economic confidence and sentiment indicators in the United States of America are near to historical highs, despite the wide range of tariff hikes and the build-up of trade tensions that intensified over the course of 2018. The impact of ongoing trade disputes on the domestic economy has been offset by major fiscal stimulus measures introduced in 2018, including a two percentage point drop in income tax rates, a steep decline in the corporate tax rate and a rise in federal government consumption spending, especially on defence. This has supported strong jobs growth and buoyant economic activity. In the first three quarters of 2018, gross domestic product (GDP) was 2.8 per cent higher than a year earlier. The expansionary fiscal stance has accelerated the pace of interest rate rises by the United States Federal Reserve (Fed), sparking episodes of turbulence in global financial markets and asset price adjustments. The federal deficit is expected to widen to about 5 per cent of GDP by 2019, and government debt will continue to rise relative to GDP for the next decade.