,While President Joe Biden swerved a disruptive shutdown of the federal government for now through a stopgap funding bill, fractured talks continue on his $4 trillion economic agenda with deep divisions among his Democrats on the way forward.
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THE global economy is entering the final quarter of 2021 with a mounting number of headwinds threatening to slow the recovery from the pandemic recession and prove policy makers’ benign views on inflation wrong.
The spreading delta variant continues to disrupt schools and workplaces. U.S. lawmakers are wrangling over the debt ceiling and spending plans. China is suffering an energy crunch and pursuing a regulatory crackdown, while markets remain on edge as China Evergrande Group struggles to survive.
Fuel and food costs are soaring worldwide, combining with congested ports and strained supply chains to elevate price pressures. Labor shortages continue to plague some employers.
Although the expansion seems intact, such a backdrop is fanning fears of a mix of weaker growth and faster inflation to come, threatening to complicate nascent efforts by central banks to dial back stimulus without rattling markets.
"Expectations of a swift exit from the pandemic were always misplaced,” said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economic research at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong. "Full recovery will be measured in years, not quarters.”
Here’s a breakdown of the major risks:
China’s energy travails have forced manufacturers to curb production and prompted economists to cut their growth forecasts. Bloomberg Economics expects the power shortages to have the biggest hit to expansion since a nationwide lockdown when the pandemic first erupted.
Regions impacted by the curbs represent about two-thirds of the economy and include the top five provinces in terms of gross domestic product -- Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang and Henan. In a sign of what’s to come, factory activity contracted in September for the first time since the pandemic began.
That’s compounding a drag from the crisis engulfing Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer, and a broader slowdown in the all-important housing sector. President Xi Jinping’s push for tighter regulations of industries including technology is also unnerving investors.
Costlier Food and Energy
China’s energy problems also risk triggering a renewed surge in world agriculture and food prices as it means the country is set for a difficult harvest season from corn to soy to peanuts and cotton. Over the past year, Beijing imported a record amount of agricultural products due to a domestic shortage, driving prices and global food costs to multiyear highs.
A United Nations index is up 33% over the past 12 months. At the same time, some gas, coal, carbon and electricity benchmarks are hitting records.