The International Monetary Fund is increasingly pessimistic about the global economic outlook, and with good reason. The reasons for concern are well-known: an incipient trade war between the world’s two largest economies, slowdowns in both those countries, disdain for global trade rules and institutions in Washington, hitherto the leading supporter of that order, and Britain’s never-ending quest to agree on terms for its withdrawal from the European Union. While a recession is not certain, it is “a delicate moment,” according to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF.

The IMF in January lowered its forecast for global growth in 2019 and 2020 to 3.5 percent, a downward adjustment that reflected a slowing global economy in the second half of 2018: After expanding 3.8 percent in the first half of the year, growth dropped to 3.2 percent for the second six months. In the World Economic Outlook published this week, the IMF dropped that estimate further still. Now the organization reckons that growth will only reach 3.3 percent, a level recorded in 2016, and the weakest level recorded since 2009.

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