Numbers & Statistics
Opening Remarks for Spring Meetings Press Conference
Exceptional Times, Exceptional Action: Opening Remarks for Spring Meetings Press Conference
By Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director
April 15, 2020
As prepared for delivery
Introduction and Outlook
Welcome to our virtual 2020 Spring Meetings!
I would like to start by wishing you and your families my personal best—for
your health and safety in these difficult times. I would also like to
express my profound gratitude to all those doctors, nurses, and workers who
are serving so selflessly on the front lines of this health crisis.
As we start these meetings, I thought about the words of T.S. Eliot, who
said: “April is the cruelest month.” Indeed, while Spring is
underway, while nature is reawakening, humanity is facing one of its
darkest periods in living memory.
Covid-19 is causing tragic loss of life; and the measures needed to fight
it have turned our world upside down—affecting billions of people and
stopping economies in their tracks.
As I said in my curtain raiser speech, this is a crisis like no other.
We anticipate the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. While there is tremendous uncertainty around the
forecast, we project global growth to fall to-3 percent this year. And we project apartial recovery in 2021, with growth expected at 5.8 per cent.
That is our baseline scenario. We know that it could get much worse depending on many variable factors,
including the depth and duration of the pandemic.
We also know that, despite the extraordinary uncertainty, we can chart a path forward.
In our Global Policy Agenda, which we are releasing today, we
outline the measures needed to overcome this crisis. Appropriately, it is
titled ‘Exceptional Times—Exceptional Action.’
Let me highlight three priorities:
(1) First—protect lives. The fact is that you cannot have a healthy economy without a healthy
population. This means continuing with essential containment measures and
prioritizing health spending. It also means refraining from export controls
on medical supplies and food.
(2) Second—protect livelihoods. We must prevent liquidity pressures from turning into solvency problems.
This is about creating lifelines for households and businesses,
from cash transfers to credit guarantees and adjustments to loan terms.
Protecting livelihoods also requires a financial system that continues to
function under pressure. Here, monetary stimulus and liquidity facilities
play an indispensable role.
(3) Third—plan for recovery. We must reduce the risk of irreversible economic scarring through policy
action now. In time, as the global economy stabilizes, coordinated
fiscal stimulus will be needed to boost demand and restore growth. For its
part, the IMF will support its member countries as they confront the
post-crisis challenges, including debt vulnerabilities, bankruptcies,
unemployment, and economic inequality.
In all these priority areas, countries with limited resources will need more support.
Many emerging markets and low-income nations have weaker
health systems to begin with. They are facing record-high portfolio
outflows—more than $100 billion in just the past two
months. Many can cover only a portion of their external financing needs,
which are estimated to be in the trillions of dollars; and some
may face an unsustainable debt burden.
The encouraging news is that so many countries have deployed extraordinary
policy measures—including fiscal actions amounting to about $8 trillion and liquidity injections by
central banks amounting to over $6 trillion. And yes,
there has been substantial coordination. But given the gravity of
the crisis, significant further efforts will be needed.
The international community must step up efforts to help the most
vulnerable countries by providing increased funding as well as debt service relief—thereby creating
space for spending on urgent health needs and mitigating the economic
impact of the crisis.
The reality is that anyone’s fight against the virus is everyone’s fight. More
than ever, we need global solidarity, a common resolve, and coordinated
The Role of the IMF
That is why the IMF is working around the clock—it’s all-hands-on-deck as
we support our 189 member countries with policy advice, technical
assistance, and financial resources.
We have $1 trillion in lending capacity, which we are
placing at the service of our membership.
- We are responding to an unprecedented number of calls for emergency
financing—from more than 100 countries. We have
just doubled access to our emergency facilities, which will allow
us to meet the expected demand of about $100 billion in
financing. Lending programs have already been approved at record speed for over 20 countries, with many more to come.
Today our Executive Board
will be discussing a new short-term liquidity line—for
countries with strong economic fundamentals.
And our membership is exploring additional tools to help meet
countries’ financing needs, including how to best use the SDR.
We have revamped our Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to provide
immediate debt relief on IMF obligations to low-income countries
affected by the crisis. Our Executive Board has just approved
assistance to 25 countries. We are now working with
donors to almost triple the CCRT from $500 million to $1.4 billion to extend
the duration of relief.
And together with the G20, the World Bank and many others, we are calling for a
standstill of debt service to official bilateral creditors for the world’s poorest countries.
When Governors of the IMFC meet tomorrow, I will be seeking their
endorsement for this concrete package of measures that can
be deployed quickly.
In this time of crisis, we must remember that this too shall pass. We will get through this.
How well and quickly we get through it depends on us acting now—and acting
These are exceptional times; we need exceptional action.
With that, I am happy to take your questions.
IMF Communications Department
Phone: +1 202 623-7100Email: MEDIA@IMF.org