Too Soon for Global Optimism

It is hard to reconcile the jubilant mood of many business leaders with the uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine. While there are some positive signs of economic recovery, a sudden escalation could severely destabilize the global economy, cause a stock market crash, and accelerate deglobalization.

Many of those who attended this year’s meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos were struck by the jubilant mood of the CEOs in attendance. It was hard to reconcile the optimism of these business leaders with the short-term and long-term economic uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine.

To be sure, there are grounds for cautious optimism, like China’s 180-degree turn on its draconian zero-COVID strategy. Soon, the country could see a huge wave of “revenge spending,” driven by pent-up demand from consumers who have spent much of the past three years in lockdown and now have the equivalent of trillions of dollars in savings to spend. Many have pinned their hopes for a global recovery on this scenario, hoping that Chinese shoppers can boost growth and push oil prices back to $100 a barrel. But regardless of what happens in China, India continues to enjoy strong growth, aided by purchases of discounted Russian oil.

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