IMF projects negative per capita income growth in over 170 countries in 2020

Updated: April 10, 2020 Source:
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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said Thursday that the multilateral lender now projects that over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year.

In her curtain raiser speech ahead of the Spring Meetings next week, the IMF chief said in a video that countries across the globe "are confronted with a crisis like no other."

"COVID-19 has disrupted our social and economic order at lightning speed and on a scale that we have not seen in living memory," Georgieva said.

The IMF managing director said it is already clear that global growth will turn "sharply negative" in 2020. "In fact, we anticipate the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression," she noted.

Georgieva said just three months ago that the IMF expected positive per capita income growth in over 160 of its member countries in 2020, but it now projects that over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year.

"The bleak outlook applies to advanced and developing economies alike. This crisis knows no boundaries. Everybody hurts," she said.

Georgieva, however, noted that the crisis is expected to hit vulnerable countries hardest. "Emerging markets and low-income nations -- across Africa, Latin America, and much of Asia -- are at high risk," she said.

In the last two months, portfolio outflows from emerging markets were about 100 billion U.S. dollars, more than three times larger than for the same period of the global financial crisis, she noted.

Noting that the IMF estimates the gross external financing needs for emerging market and developing countries to be in the trillions of dollars, the IMF chief said "they urgently need help."

If the pandemic fades in the second half of this year -- thus allowing a gradual lifting of containment measures and reopening of the economy -- "our baseline assumption is for a partial recovery in 2021," Georgieva said.

However, she stressed there is "tremendous uncertainty" around the outlook: it could get worse depending on many variable factors, including the duration of the pandemic.

On a positive note, Georgieva said "all governments have sprung into action and, indeed, there has been significant coordination," noting that countries around the world have taken fiscal actions amounting to about 8 trillion dollars.

In addition, there have been massive monetary measures from the Group of 20 (G20) and others, she added.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the IMF chief proposed a four-point plan: continuing with essential containment measures and support for health systems; shielding affected people and firms with large, timely, targeted fiscal and financial sector measures; reducing stress to the financial system and avoiding contagion; planing for a recovery phase, and minimizing the potential scarring effects of the crisis.

"Lifelines for households and businesses are imperative," she said. "We need to prevent liquidity pressures from turning into solvency problems and avoid a scarring of the economy that would make the recovery so much more difficult."

The IMF chief reiterated that the multilateral lender has 1 trillion dollars in lending capacity at the service of its membership, while noting that it is responding to an "unprecedented" number of calls for emergency financing -- from over 90 countries so far.

"Our Executive Board has just agreed to double access to our emergency facilities, which will allow us to meet the expected demand of about 100 billion dollars in financing," she said.

Noting "we are reviewing our tool kit," Georgieva said the IMF is working with donors to increase its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to 1.4 billion dollars, up from the previously reported 400 million dollars available.

She added that the IMF is also working together with the World Bank, "calling for a standstill of debt service to official bilateral creditors for the world's poorest countries."

Editor: 赵银平