IMF says US crisis is ‘largest financial shock since Great Depression’


Heather Stewart
Guardian
April 8, 2008

America’s mortgage crisis has spiralled into “the largest financial shock since the Great Depression” and there is now a one-in-four chance of a full-blown global recession over the next 12 months, the International Monetary Fund warned today.

The US is already sliding into what the IMF predicts will be a “mild recession” but there is mounting pessimism about the ability of the rest of the world to escape unscathed, the IMF said in its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook. Britain is particularly vulnerable, it warned, as it slashed its growth targets for both the US and the UK.

The report made it clear that there will be no early resolution to the global financial crisis.

“The financial shock that erupted in August 2007, as the US sub-prime mortgage market was derailed by the reversal of the housing boom, has spread quickly and unpredictably to inflict extensive damage on markets and institutions at the heart of the financial system,” it said.

After warning earlier this week that the world’s financial firms could end up shouldering $1 trillion (£500bn) worth of losses from the credit crunch, the IMF said it expects the US to achieve GDP growth of just 0.5% this year, and 0.6% in 2008, with the housing crash getting even worse.

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