Global economy starting 2021 stronger, virus-vaccine race clouds outlook-IMF economist

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The global economy is starting 2021 in a better position than had been expected in 2020, but surging COVID-19 cases and new strains of the virus are clouding the outlook and making for a “dark winter,” the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist said on Tuesday.

“What is true as of now is that we’re starting out the year at a somewhat stronger point than we had expected in 2020, which is a good thing” Gita Gopinath told CNBC. “But right now, it’s a race between the virus and the vaccines and until we get past this, I think this is a pretty difficult period at this time.”

The IMF is expected to revise its Global Economic Outlook forecasts on Jan. 26. In October, it forecast a 4.4% global GDP contraction for 2020, followed by a rebound to growth of 5.2% for 2021.