Buckle up for more global crises, warns World Bank chief

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RUSSIA-ECONOMIC FORUM/

The chief executive of the World Bank has warned governments to "buckle up" for the next string of global crises that will provide little respite for struggling economies.

Kristalina Georgieva said the growing frequency of financial, economic and terror-related emergencies is becoming the "new normal" and will require a more agile response from politicians and businesses.

"I'm asking myself what has changed in this decade and my conclusion is what has changed probably can be summed up with 'buckle up'.

"We are now at the point when shocks are more frequent. Unexpected crises are maybe not more dramatic than they used to be before, but they are very impolite, they don't wait their turn," she said during a panel discussion at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia.

"It used to be there would be a massive crisis, it comes, hits us, for a couple of years we struggle with it ... and then it goes away, and then a new crisis would come later."

Countries are now facing multiple challenges simultaneously, she said.

"If you just look at the last years, we had financial crisis, economic crisis, eurozone crisis, terrorism, geopolitical crises, and neither institutions or businesses are well tuned to deal with more than one shock at a time.

"We have to really figure out - if this is the new normal, and I happen to think this is the new normal - how we can have more resilient , more agile and more adaptable government policies, (and) private sector behaviour so that (work) security can be put on a sound foundation."

She made the comments months after the World Bank slashed its forecasts for British growth amid heightened political uncertainty following the Brexit referendum, bringing UK gross domestic product (GDP) growth projections down from 2.2% to 1.2% for 2017, and from 2.1% to 1.3% for 2018.

Britain's economy expanded by 1.8% over 2016.

The collapse of the pound caused by market uncertainty following the Brexit vote has resulted in soaring inflation and a subsequent slowdown in consumer spending, dealing a blow to the wider economy.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week showed that the UK economy suffered an even deeper slowdown at the start of the year than initially estimated, with GDP rising by only 0.2% over the first two months of the year, compared with its previous measure of 0.3%.

Ms Georgieva said she sees the glass "half full", given broad growth trends in Europe and the US.

"For the first time since the financial crisis, we - that is the World Bank, IMF (International Monetary Fund), others - we are revising our forecast for growth which way? Up. We are so sick of revising it down so let's be a bit more optimistic.

"We have the US growing, Europe growing, Japan growing, Russia - it wants to grow faster but it's growing."