It looks as if the global economy is heading for a serious slowdown this year. Emergency austerity programmes in some countries will put a drag on growth. Inventory adjustments will run their course. The effects of tax policies that steal demand from the future – such as the US “cash for clunkers” scheme, tax credits for home buyers or cash for green appliances – will fizzle out. Labour market conditions will remain weak. The slow and painful deleveraging of balance sheets and income-challenged households, financial institutions and governments will continue.