New York: The World Bank said that the global economy will shrink this year for the first time since World War II and that the global financial crisis will make it tougher for poor and developing nations to access needed financing.
Trade is forecast to fall to its lowest point in 80 years in 2009, as economic hardship ripples across the globe, the bank said.
The most drastic trade slowdowns are expected in East Asia, where growth had been robust, the bank said in a paper prepared for a meeting of finance ministers and central bank officials next week.
The impact on the poorest countries will be severe, the bank said, predicting that a group of 129 countries face a shortfall of $270 to $700 billion this year.
The bank, which offers low-interest loans and grants to developing nations, warned international financial institutions will not be able to cover even the low end of that estimate. Only one-quarter of those vulnerable countries will be able to ease the economic downturn through job creation or “safety net” programs, the bank said on Sunday.
The ramifications of the growing financial crisis on the world’s poorest nations will likely remain for some time, the bank said. Because richer nations are borrowing more, developing nations are being squeezed out and many financial organizations that have provided financing to lower-income countries “have virtually disappeared.”