McKinsey Says Economy Faces ‘Long, Uncertain Pause’ in Finance

The world economy is threatened by a “long, uncertain pause” in the development and spread of financial markets, according to McKinsey & Co.

Almost six years since the start of the worst financial turmoil since the Great Depression, finance is at an “inflection” point between turning more domestic or reviving its pre-crisis globalization push, the management consultant’s research division said in a report published today.

Cross-border capital flows are 60 percent below their peak and euro-area banks have reduced foreign claims by $3.7 trillion, while annual growth in financial assets has slowed to 1.9 percent from 7.9 percent in the 17 years before the crisis, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. The development of financial systems has fallen behind economic growth in many emerging markets.

“The risk now is that continued slow growth in global financial assets may slow the economic recovery, stifling business investment, homeownership and investment in innovation and infrastructure,” the institute said in the study based on the assets of 183 nations.

If the current trend continues, the value of financial assets relative to gross domestic product will flatten or even decline by 2020, the report said. Policy makers need to act by completing regulatory reform, creating borrowing mechanisms for constrained borrowers and generating more stability for finance across countries, it said.

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