Fitch issues latest warning on economic damage of protectionism

Jake Cordell
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US Mexico border
Open borders and free trade are decidedly out of fashion across many parts of the developed world (Source: Getty)

The US is set to grow at its slowest pace since the financial crisis this year, as the global economy falters in the face of historically loose monetary policy and the rise of protectionist forces.

Ratings agency Fitch is the latest to flag concerns over the lacklustre performance of the world's largest economy, with a hefty downgrade in its forecast for GDP growth this year from a 1.8 per cent prediction made in July to 1.4 per cent in new figures published today.

Around the world, Fitch said risks to economic growth "have risen in recent months", not least the prospect of polices which turn back the tide of globalisation and free trade.

"With populism gaining traction in many countries, the risk of political shocks adversely affecting the outlook for private investment has increased," Fitch said. "At the same time, the capacity of central banks to engender stronger growth appears to be diminishing."

Fitch added: "Global financial markets have shrugged off earlier concerns about the implications of Brexit, but the growth outlook for the advanced economies and the risks surrounding it have deteriorated in recent months."

A number of forecasters, including Societe Generale, have begun pencilling in a mild recession in the US as the result of a cyclical downturn. Christine Lagarde at the Office for National Statistics has also said the US economy will grow weaker than expected this year.

Economic data out this afternoon also showed US manufacturers were crawling along ahead of the Presidential Election on 8 November.

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