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June 13, 2012

World Bank Urges Developing Countries to Brace for Long Term Volatility

by Mil Arcega

The World Bank is urging developing countries to brace for the possibility of more economic turmoil in Europe. In its Global Economic Prospects Report, the bank advises emerging market economies to strengthen fiscal positions and develop medium-term strategies to protect their economies.

Emerging market economies may have weathered the 2008 financial crisis better than more advanced countries, but the World Bank warns -- it could happen again.

Senior bank economist Andrew Burns says anything is possible right now in Europe.

"Although we don't see it as a baseline scenario, it certainly is possible that the situation in high-income Europe deteriorates significantly.  And if it did, that would have very serious impacts for developing countries," Burns said.

With borrowing costs still rising in Spain and Italy, and an upcoming Greek referendum that could forever alter the Eurozone -- Burns predicts a bumpy ride.

But even with the most recent bailout in Spain - economist Peter Morici says the problems facing Greece and Spain are very different.

"Spain's problem is one of a banking crisis. Greece's problem is one of a government crisis," Morici said.

Either way, Morici says the crisis has the potential to plunge the world into another recession, reducing global trade and exports dramatically.

The World Bank says developing nations need to focus on enhancing domestic productivity and boosting infrastructure development -- while reducing debt.

"What we suggest is that countries take the time now to try and replenish some of those cushions, some of those buffers they used in 2008 - 2009 so successfully to recover from that crisis.  Try and rebuild those now by bringing policy to a more neutral stance, reducing fiscal deficits so that they have the ammunition to respond if a crisis, a second crisis, announces itself," Burns said.

Despite an over-abundance of caution, Burns is optimistic about a full-fledged global recovery - one led by emerging economies in Central Asia, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.