IMF says world economy is getting better -- or not

The deputy head of the International Monetary Fund says that his agency may revise expectations for 2010 world gross domestic product growth upward soon. But to some extent, he decided to hedge his comments and speak from both sides of his mouth.

In addition to his optimistic comments, he said, "While the latest data point to a slowing of the global contraction, there is still great uncertainty regarding the timing and pace of economic recovery," according toReuters.

The IMF public statements about the economy are now the standard way of analyzing the next year. Things are getting better, unless they are not. The head of the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and the World Bank say the same. There will be a recovery by the end of 2009, maybe. If unemployment stays high and oil prices go up, then maybe not. If the Chinese and American stimulus packages produce disappointing results, then maybe not. If consumers save and don't spend, then growth will remain elusive.

It has become very hard for the press and the average man on the street to garner much of anything about the future of the world economy and credit markets when experts are usually not willing to take a stand. Very few people high up in government or at global financial agencies will do anything but dissemble. Either they have no idea what is happening, or they are afraid that they will be wrong and look like idiots.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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