Each spring, the World Bank Group hosts its bi-annual meeting in partnership with the International Monetary Fund to discuss progress on the work of these institutions and to foster dialogue for the challenges ahead. This year, the central topic was resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of International Monetary Fund gave the opening remarks at the Press Conference titled “Fostering a Fair Recovery.” Her remarks unveiled the IMF’s policy agenda to give everyone a “fair shot” at the vaccine, at recovery, and at the future. The recommendations detailed ramping up vaccine production and distribution, supporting vulnerable families and viable firms as well as scaling up public investment, topics that were further discussed throughout the week-long event.
One of the most highlighted panels of the spring meetings was a conversation with the President of the World Bank Group, David Malpass, the US Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen, and the IMF’s Kristalina Georgieva. They discussed the path towards a green, resilient and inclusive economic recovery. They talked about their respective entities’ work, as well as their opinions on the focus for the future. Malpass addressed the efforts of the World Bank, including its plans to pass vaccine rollout initiatives in several countries and to enact debt suspension in developing countries.
Yellen spoke about the US’s efforts to support the people most affected by the economic impact of the pandemic: those with low-income, in minority groups as well as those working in the service sector. The US measures include rental assistance, unemployment assurances and various support for local and state governments. Overall, the US is expecting a rapid economic recovery and plans to be back to full employment next year, which would positively impact other nations.
Moving on to the climate crisis, Yellen noted that the Biden administration is focusing on the US climate agenda by including investment in climate-related infrastructure in his proposal currently under debate in Congress. She emphasized that it is critical to ensure the availability of green finance, and that financing is being transferred to developing countries dealing with challenges.
Georgieva talked about the climate crisis in the context of macroeconomics: it has become a growing threat to financial stability. However, it also offers opportunities for green jobs and long-term growth. The IMF is taking a holistic approach to tackle climate change, including fiscal and monetary policy advice, a focus on macroeconomic risks through standardizing reporting metrics, integrating climate-related risks into financial risks, the use of data to measure carbon intensity, as well as integration of climate analysis with other issues.
The speakers closed the session by emphasizing their priorities for the next few months. Yellen reiterated the importance of resilience and emphasized the need to mediate systemic problems to prepare for the next global crisis.
Georgieva mentioned that moving forward, working together is the one thing we should advance. We need to give credit to the collaboration that already happened and that led to delivering the vaccines at a record-breaking speed. In fact, according to the IMF’s estimate, the economic recession following the Covid-19 pandemic would have been three times more severe had it not been for swift and effective international collaboration.
In the process of building back the economy as well as delivering the vaccines, it is critical for developed countries to partner with NGOs and developing countries to ensure that the progress of reducing inequality is not reversed, and that vaccine distribution happens in an equitable way. In the long-term, we should continue building the foundations for strong international cooperation.