World Economic Outlook (WEO)

What Is the World Economic Outlook (WEO)?

The World Economic Outlook (WEO) is a comprehensive report published twice a year by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It includes the IMF's estimates and forecasts for global output growth and inflation as well as for real gross domestic product (GDP) growth, consumer prices, current account balances and unemployment in the fund's 190 member countries, grouped by region and development status. The WEO also includes several chapters on selected pressing economic issues.

The data is drawn from IMF representatives' consultations with member countries, and is included in the WEO database. The WEO is usually published in April and October, followed by the less comprehensive WEO updates in July and January.

Key Takeaways

  • The World Economic Outlook (WEO) is an International Monetary Fund report providing output, inflation, employment, fiscal balances, and debt statistics for member countries.
  • The report, best known for its global growth forecasts, summarizes the state of the global economy and highlights the most important recent developments.
  • The IMF publishes the WEO report twice a year based on data obtained from its consultations with member countries' governments.
  • The IMF also publishes two additional and less comprehensive WEO Updates a year, each three months after the main WEO report.

Understanding the World Economic Outlook

The World Economic Outlook is the product of the IMF's systemic survey of macroeconomic conditions and prospects in member countries, as well as an analysis and forecast of global economic and financial developments.

Because the IMF is a leading global financial organization heavily involved in macroeconomic analysis as a result of its international lending programs, its data are widely cited. For the same reason, the WEO's semiannual forecasts garner prominent headlines and close scrutiny from financial markets analysts.

While IMF has drawn criticism over the consequences of its structural adjustment programs for the poor in the debtor countries, among others, the WEO has been less controversial. It is prepared by the Fund's professional staff and incorporates input from the organization's executive directors before publication.

Example of World Economic Outlook

The World Economic Outlook published in April 2022, titled "War Sets Back the Global Recovery," lowered the IMF's global growth forecasts for 2022 and 2023 from an estimated 6.1% gain in 2021 amid a rebound from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the related rise in energy and commodity prices, the IMF lowered its annual global growth forecast to 3.6% for 2022 as well as 2023, from 4.4% and 3.8% respectively in the WEO update issued three months earlier.

The April 2022 World Economic Outlook included chapters on "Global Prospects and Policies," "Private Sector Debt and the Global Recovery," "A Greener Labor Market: Employment, Policies, and Economic Transformation," and "Global Trade and Value Chains During the Pandemic."

The first chapter included charts illustrating the surge in grain prices in Q1 2022 and the exposure of European banks to Russia as a percentage of total assets by country.

An extensive statistical appendix offered a discussion of the fiscal policy assumptions used in the WEO's economic projections for selected countries as well as tables for past and projected output growth, consumer prices, fiscal and debt balances by country.

Article Sources
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  1. International Monetary Fund. "World Economic Outlook Frequently Asked Questions: WEO Database and Publication."

  2. International Monetary Fund. "World Economic Outlook."

  3. FRED Economic Data, St. Louis Fed. "World Economic Outlook."

  4. Google News Search. "WEO."

  5. Council on Foreign Relations. "The IMF: The World’s Controversial Financial Firefighter."

  6. International Monetary Fund. "World Economic Outlook, April 2022," Page xii.

  7. International Monetary Fund. "War Slows Recovery."

  8. International Monetary Fund. "World Economic Outlook, April 2022," Page iii.

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