Economic growth: The IMF's take
A "policy-driven, multi-speed recovery". That's how the International Monetary Fund (IMF) summarises the prospects for the world economy in its latest update, which has just came out.
Put another way, it thinks the recoveries in the US and Europe are going to be low-speed - and still driven largely by policy stimulus.
In the high-speed emerging economies like China, by contrast, the question for policy is going to be how, and when, to slow things down.
True, the Fund's economists now think the advanced countries will grow a bit faster in 2010 than it thought - by 2.1% instead of the previous 1.3%.
But growth next year has been revised down slightly - to 2.4%. In the emerging economies in 2010 it expects average growth of 6% in 2010 and 6.3% in 2011. Both of those forecasts have been revised slightly up.
It's good news for everyone compared to what was forecast even six months ago.
But good news with a twist, because the Fund says we're only getting a rebound thanks to an "extraordinary amount of stimulus... there are still few indications that autonomous (not-policy-induced) private demand is taking hold, at least in advanced economies".
Tell us something we don't know, you might say, given Britain's rather underwhelming GDP figures today.
Funnily enough, the IMF has today revised the UK's forecast upwards - to growth of 1.3% this year and 2.7% in 2011.
That latter figure is still below the chancellor's forecast, but it's interesting to note that the Fund is expecting the UK to grow faster than every other major advanced economy in 2011 (unless you count Canada, which is forecast to see growth of 3.6%).
Growth in the eurozone is forecast to be a measly 1% this year and 1.3% in 2011.
Just before Christmas, I said a big question for this year would be whether the private sector showed up for the US recovery.
Apparently, the IMF thinks it won't show up in a big way on either side of the Atlantic in 2010 and 2011. The 2010 forecast for the US has gone up sharply - causing much celebration in the markets this afternoon. But the forecast for next year has been marked down by 0.4 percentage points, to 2.4%.
That may be why why the Fund says the biggest downside risk to the forecast is "that a premature and incoherent exit from supportive policies may undermine global growth and its rebalancing".
As you can imagine, Downing Street is very keen on this particular paragraph and think it makes the point I was highlighting earlier - that it could be a risky time to slam on the brakes.
Earlier the report also says that "the fiscal stimulus planned for 2010 should be fully implemented". No 10 has that bit underlined in red.
But read on a sentence or two, and there's a downside risk the Tories will appreciate as well: namely, that "rising concerns about worsening budget conditions and fiscal sustainability could unsettle financial markets and stifle the recovery by raising the cost of borrowing for households and companies".
It also says that countries facing growing sustainability concerns "should make progress in devising and communicating credible exit strategies".
In case you were wondering, Alistair Darling, that means you.
So once again, we could be damned if we do and damned if we don't. Somehow, the next government has to convince the financial markets that it will make herculean efforts to cut borrowing over the next few years, without necessarily doing much about it right away.
David Cameron discovered the other week that you couldn't get credit with the electorate for supporting marriage unless you're willing to pay for it up-front.
If the recovery turns out to be as weak as these early numbers suggest, the next government will be looking for bond investors to take a more generous view - accepting their commitment to cut the deficit on faith.
More details on future spending cuts could certainly help win them over. But generosity is not exactly what the international bond markets are known for.