Not long after President Trump took the oath of office, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde waved off concerns about the end of the world. Don’t get hysterical, she said. Give the guy some time to adjust. The bloated tanning-cream disaster can’t possible mean the things he’s saying.
Of course, she was right, for the most part: Donald Trump doesn’t mean most of the things he says, insofar as the very concept of “meaning,” like those of “truth” and “integrity” and “honesty,” has no meaning to him. But there are some words that come out of the president’s mouth that he does mean, even if only by accident. And unfortunately for Christine Lagarde, those words fall squarely within her purview.
Risks about which the Fund had warned this year—“such as rising trade barriers and a reversal of capital flows to emerging market economies with weaker fundamentals, and higher political risk—have become more pronounced or have partially materialized,” the IMF said in the release of its World Economic Outlook—its flagship global economic forecasts.
The revisions had been foreshadowed by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who saw the outlook dimming, saying in a speech last week that “the global economic weather is beginning to change….”
“We’ve gotten some bad news and the probability we’d attach to further bad news has gone up,” Maurice Obstfeld, the IMF’s chief economist, said in a briefing with reporters.