The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its global growth forecasts for 2014 and 2015 and warned that the world economy may never return to the pace of expansion seen before the financial crisis.

In its flagship half-yearly world economic outlook (WEO), the IMF said the failure of countries to recover strongly from the worst recession of the postwar era meant there was a risk of stagnation or persistently weak activity.

The IMF said it expected global growth to be 3.3% in 2014, 0.4 points lower than it was predicting in the April WEO and 0.1 points down on interim forecasts made in July. A pick-up in the rate of expansion to 3.8% is forecast for 2015, down from 3.9% in the April WEO and 4% in July. But the IMF highlighted the risk that its predictions would once again be too optimistic.

“The pace of global recovery has disappointed in recent years”, the IMF said, noting that since 2010 it had been consistently forced to revise down its forecasts. “With weaker-than-expected global growth for the first half of 2014 and increased downside risks, the projected pickup in growth may again fail to materialise or fall short of expectation.”

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