Jim O’Neill, a former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, says the global economy is “definitely” slowing down. While this alone might not be indicative of a recession, he says a global shock of some sort could elevate the risk of an economic contraction. Particularly if something went “really, really badly wrong in China.”

However, there are some things that policymakers can do to ward off the next recession.

O’Neill thinks it’s “a good development” to have more pragmatic leaders at the helm of central banks in the U.S., European Union and U.K.

Jim O’Neill has told CNBC that the single most important thing in the world economy is reviving the Chinese consumer.

China’s official government figures said the country’s economy slowed last year to 6.6 percent. The country is enduring an ongoing trade war with the U.S. while attempting a long-planned transition from a manufacturing and export-led economy to a consumer-driven model.

O’Neill who now acts as chair of Chatham House, an international affairs thinktank, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Thursday that it was no surprise the country’s growth had dipped.

“People shouldn’t be freaking out, the demographics have turned,” said O’Neill before adding that some of the reduction in growth was planned by Beijing.

The former Goldman supremo noted that while the headline growth figure of 6.6 percent last year was the slowest in almost three decades it was also, year-on-year, “still equivalent to adding another Australia.”

O’Neill did note one area of concern that Beijing authorities were struggling to address.

“The one thing that does bother me is the Chinese consumer is slowing, that’s not supposed to happen,” he said before adding, “The single most important thing in the world economy is the Chinese consumer slowing down.”

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