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IMF head warns of 'dangerous new normal'

2022-10-07 HKT 03:22
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  • Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, wants policymakers to work together. Photo: AP
    Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, wants policymakers to work together. Photo: AP
IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva urged global policymakers on Thursday to take concerted action to avoid a "dangerous 'new normal,'" as the risks of a worldwide recession are driven ever higher by repeated economic shocks.

In a speech ahead of the fund's annual meetings next week, the IMF's managing director said it was critical to "stabilse the global economy by addressing the most immediate challenges" – including rampant inflation.

Policymakers need to act together to "prevent this period of heightened fragility from becoming a dangerous 'new normal,'" Georgieva said.

But she warned the process will be painful – and that if central banks move too aggressively to tamp down price pressures, it could trigger a "prolonged" economic downturn.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from more than 180 nations will gather next week in Washington for the first fully in-person meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank since 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Faced with the "darkening global outlook ... the risks of recession are rising," Georgieva said – announcing that the crisis lender plans to once again downgrade its 2023 forecast for the world economy, in the forecasts due to be published next week for the annual meeting.

One-third of countries are expected to see at least two quarters of contraction, and "even when growth is positive, it will feel like a recession" because of rising prices eroding incomes, she said.

The fund in July slashed its growth forecast for this year to 3.2 percent, and for next year to 2.9 percent – the third consecutive downgrade.

The meetings come at a difficult time for the global economy, with the pandemic largely under control, but soaring inflation and rising interest rates now threatening to reverberate around the globe and choke off nascent recoveries.

"In less than three years we lived through shock, after shock, after shock," Georgieva said in her speech at Georgetown University.

Global supply snarls already were a challenge for the world economy as demand surged following the pandemic slowdown, fueling inflation worldwide, and strains worsened in the wake of the Russian conflict with Ukraine – which Georgieva called a "senseless war" – sending food and food prices soaring. (AFP)