IMF report notes progress on inflation, US deficit, continued recession

The world is showing ''signs of progress'' in its battle against global inflation, says the annual report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In a 192-page survey, the IMF, located in Washington and designed to meet liquidity problems of member nations, also makes a passing reference to the problem of the world's largest industrial nation, the United States.

''The emergence of a persistent budget deficit is the main issue concerning policies of the United States, which is generally recognized to have a serious fiscal problem,'' the report says. ''US financial markets have become highly sensitive to the problem over the past year. . . .'' The report continues that the persistence and uncertainty concerning the level of the deficit have affected the credibility of monetary policy and the government's commitment to bring down inflation. It has thus contributed to both the high level and variability of interest rates.

The IMF report was put into print before last week's dramatic passage by Congress of the President's tax bill and in a sense anticipated it and its possible worldwide consequences. It declares that a change of policy aimed at avoiding a continued deficit could reduce interest rates and ''bring about a fundamental improvement in the conditions for sustained economic growth.''

The IMF report makes an annual sweep of economic conditions in industrial countries, oil-producing developing countries, and those third-world countries that do not have oil. Summing up, an official digest comments, ''The Report, while noting signs of progress in the difficult fight against inflation, characterizes the world economic situation at mid-1982 as troublesome, posing major challenges to economic policy for both national governments and international institutions.''

Some of the problems:

* Inflation remains too high in most countries.

* Low or negative rates of growth are widespread.

* A pronounced ''three-year slowdown'' in the industrial countries not only hurts them but developing countries.

* Unemployment rates are high and rising in most industrial countries.

* World trade growth has fallen to ''an extremely low rate.''

* And, finally, many countries are dominated by large imbalances on current accounts, mounting foreign indebtedness, and difficulties in meeting debts at current high interest rates.

One thing the IMF worries about is an increased threat of protectionism. It's a self-generating difficulty: ''These conditions have had a negative impact on prices of primary commodities and, hence, on the export earnings of many developing countries, whose loss of international purchasing power, in turn, has contributed further to the slowdown of world trade.''

Like an anxious hen watching its chicks, the IMF warns that ''each member should take into account the interest of other members.''

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