«In the near term, the main risk is an escalation of financial stress and contagion, prompted by rising concern over sovereign risk,» the world economic outlook said. «This could lead to additional increases in funding costs and weaker bank balance sheets and hence to tighter lending conditions, declining business and consumer confidence, and abrupt changes in relative exchange rates.» The IMF did not change its forecast for 2011, regarding these problems as a threat rather than a central projection. But it warned that the stress in financial markets would pose difficult challenges for policymakers. «Potential downside economic risks and the strains in interbank and sovereign markets have complicated exits from the extraordinary fiscal, monetary and financial policies initiated some months ago,» the report said. The fund was one of the first big economic institutions to call for fiscal stimulus to help the world economy ride the storm created by the credit crunch in 2007-2008.
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