Meanwhile, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has predicted that up to 50 million people may lose their jobs in 2009.

The UN agency says the figure is a worst case scenario, but it expects global job losses to be between 18 and 50 million this year.

Asia affected
 
Around Asia, evidence is emerging to support the ILO's claim.
 
In China, a communist party official estimates that 40 million migrant workers will be searching for work as the country's economic growth begins to slow.

However, it is expected to remain the world's fastest-growing economy with a 6.7 per cent increase, down from nine per cent in 2008.
 
In Japan, the 12 largest car manufacturers plan to cut a total of 25,000 jobs by the end of March.

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And in the Philippines, up to 300,000 people are in danger of losing their jobs by the end of June.

In India, the economic-growth rate forecast has been revised downwards to 5.1 per cent from 7.3 per cent.
 
Speaking to Al Jazeera from New Delhi, Amitabh Dubey of Trusted Sources, a business think-tank, said: "There's no question that there's going to be a decline in comparison to the previous record.
 
"In India it has been an investment-led boom for the last few years. But ... the slowdown is going to be cushioned somewhat by consumer spending."
 
"You have rural consumers, because the agricultural sector remains fairly buoyant, you have a lot of sectors of consumption that are not dependent on interest rates and on credit - so these sectors I believe are going to help cushion the decline we have under way."

'Uncertain outlook'

In its reports, the IMF said: "Despite wide-ranging policy actions, financial strains remain acute, pulling down the real economy."

It warned its projections were made in a "highly uncertain outlook" and that "the timing and pace of the recovery depend critically on strong policy actions".

"A sustained economic recovery will not be possible until the financial sector's functionality is restored and credit markets are unclogged," the Washington-based organisation said.

The United States, the epicentre of the financial crisis, was predicted to endure a 1.6 per cent contraction, well down on the organisation's prior estimate of 0.9 per cent.

Japan's economy would shrink by 2.6 per cent in 2009, instead of the former estimate of 0.2 per cent, while the 27-member eurozone economy would hit a wall, suffering a two per cent contraction after growing one per cent in 2008.

The previous 2009 estimate was for a 0.5 per cent contraction.

The IMF offered some light at the end of the tunnel, saying it saw a gradual recovery in the global economy in 2010 of growth of three per cent, spurred by "continued efforts to ease credit strains as well as expansionary fiscal and monetary policies".