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Fund too polite to point out political dangers in US

THE IMF's latest health check for the world economy is very different to reports we have become used to since Lehman Brothers went wallop.

Even six months ago, the global lender was still fussing about the threats posed to the industrialised world from the banking crisis and recession. Yesterday, those fears had all but vanished, to be replaced by worries that emerging economies are overheating.

It is hard not believe that this is the case when China and India are expected to grow 9.6pc and 8.2pc respectively, but the IMF still believes there is time for these countries to cool down without too much damage to either their own populations or the rest of the world.

The IMF's forecasts for the US are also a little puzzling; the fund predicts faster growth than at anytime since 2005, while highlighting the country's inability to get to grips with a fiscal crisis that shows no sign of abating as the country prepares for presidential elections that will pit President Barack Obama against a group of Republicans with some of the zaniest economic policies seen in US history.

Based in Washington DC, it is impossible to believe that the IMF is not very alive to the dangers posed to the US economy by some extremists, but as always the IMF is too polite to warn that political developments in the US could derail the domestic or world economy at any time.

Political considerations often seem to play a role in the IMF's analysis, so we should not be too surprised that this is the case this time round as well.

We will probably never know what the IMF officials really think of US or Chinese prospects for recovery and a soft landing respectively.

The problem is that without an unflinching analysis, it is difficult to take too much else seriously beyond the obvious statement the world economy is now a three-speed economy with the BRICs in top gear, the US in second gear and Europe in bottom gear. Meanwhile, many of the PIIGS are in reverse gear.

Irish Independent