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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
In a seemingly coordinated effort, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, deputy managing director David Lipton and chief economist Gita Gopinath all worried aloud about the "delicate" state of the world's economies at last week's spring meeting in Washington.
On the other hand: Fund managers and analysts who were in Washington for the event seemed to largely disregard the foreboding. They're bullish.
What they're saying: "The mood is a bit too sour," Ed Al-Hussainy, senior interest rate and currency analyst for Columbia Threadneedle Investments, told Axios on the sidelines of the meetings.
Investors and analysts like Al-Hussainy say that while growth is slowing, there are no signs of a global recession or a major shock that would send markets dramatically lower.
So why is everyone worried?
The bottom line: Deutsche Bank recently updated its U.S. economic outlook, noting that it sees last month's U.S. Treasury yield curve inversion as a "false alarm." Deutsche Bank chief economist Torsten Slok said in a note to clients that the bank does not see a recession in the next 3 years.
The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow forecasting tool has been steadily increasing estimates of this year's first quarter GDP. The initial reading was an unimpressive 0.3% on March 1. The forecast is updated as pertinent economic data is released.
Laurence Boone, chief economist at the OECD, joined IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath and World Bank chief economist Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg for a discussion titled "Income Inequality Matters: How to Ensure Economic Growth Benefits the Many and Not the Few."
The 3 chief economists laid out the case for why income inequality is increasing and what can be done to stop it.
"The less skilled you are, the less you respect the government, and the more worried you are about their capacity to help you, which is another reason to help the lower skilled people.
"The more we undermine multilateralism, the more difficult it is going to be to reach any agreement on taxation, to understand how value chains are working, and how we can actually help people look and relocate geographically and to grasp opportunity rather than being left behind and suffering from that."— Laurence Boone, chief economist at the OECD
Not that you asked, but: The subject was an interesting choice because the IMF and World Bank are often blamed for increasing inequality. Historically, the organizations have made loans to already indebted developing countries that are pilfered by unscrupulous officials and well-paid consultants, contractors and con men.
Worth mentioning: It's the first time in the history of the 3 organizations that all chief economists are women.
Rite Aid announced Thursday it will stop selling e-cigarettes and vaping products in all of its stores (more than 2,400 of them) because of concerns that they are behind the increase in tobacco use among middle and high school students.
What's happening: The latest National Youth Tobacco Survey, released in January, found a 78% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48% increase in middle school students. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he would consider taking e-cigarettes off the market if companies continued marketing aggressively to young people.
Why it matters: Rite Aid's decision is the latest bit of bad news for Altria, which paid $12.8 billion for a 35% stake in e-cigarette juggernaut Juul.
Berat Albayrak. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images
Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak held a closed-door meeting with hundreds of investors during the IMF-World Bank meetings in Washington last week, and some who attended called it the worst they've ever had with a high-ranking government official.
What they're saying:
Government officials typically gather with investors during the week to lay out their plans to boost economic growth and address any fears of a weakening economy or debt default. Investors say Albayrak did none of that.
Why it matters: The unimpressive performance could not have come at a worse time for Turkey. Investors are growing more anxious as the country heads toward recession and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeing his popularity erode. (Albayrak is Erdogan's son-in-law and replaced 2 highly respected ministers, despite having limited qualifications.)
What's next: Conelius said his biggest takeaway from the week's events was that he became more pessimistic about chances for a turnaround in Turkey.
Yes, but: None of the asset managers who spoke with Axios said they had immediate plans to sell Turkish assets.