The global economy may be close to a "tipping point" that could see it enter a slowdown so severe that it transforms the current period of rising inflation into a period of falling prices, the Bank for International Settlements said Monday.
In its annual report, the central bank for central banks said the impact of rising food and energy prices on consumers' incomes, combined with heavy household debts and a pullback in bank lending, may lead to a slowdown in global growth that "could prove to be much greater and longer-lasting than would be required to keep inflation under control."
"Over time, this could potentially even lead to deflation," it said.
For central bankers from around the world gathered in Basel for the BIS annual meeting Sunday and Monday, the report made for chastening reading. Not only does it highlight the difficulty of the dilemma facing central banks confronted with slowing growth at a time when inflationary pressures are rising, it also lays much of the blame for their predicament at the feet of the central banks themselves.