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  • Chris Anderson: I get now to introduce

  • one of the most powerful women in the world.

  • I mean, if we are to escape from the mess that we're in right now,

  • she is going to play a major part in helping us do that.

  • She's the head of the International Monetary Fund,

  • a delight to welcome here Kristalina Georgieva.

  • Kristalina, welcome.

  • Kristalina Georgieva: Great to be with you, Chris.

  • Thank you for having me.

  • CA: So you just took on this role late last year,

  • and within four months, boom, COVID arrives.

  • That is one heck of an introduction to a new job.

  • How are you doing?

  • KG: Well, I find strength in action.

  • And at the Fund,

  • we have been, from day one on this crisis,

  • leaning forward with everything we have

  • to provide lifelines to countries,

  • and that means to people and businesses.

  • Already, we have received over 90 requests

  • and we have offered, to 56 countries,

  • critical financial packages.

  • CA: You've described this pandemic as a crisis like no other.

  • In what way a crisis like no other?

  • KG: Truly like no other.

  • First, never before

  • we will inflict on the economy consciously so much pain

  • to fight a virus and save lives.

  • We are asking businesses not to produce

  • and consumers not to go out and consume.

  • At the Fund, we labeled this "the Great Lockdown."

  • Second,

  • never before

  • there would be such a rapid change of fortunes

  • practically for everybody around the world.

  • In January, I was in Davos,

  • talking about "anemic growth," growth of three percent.

  • In April, during our spring meetings, it was already minus three percent.

  • In January,

  • we predicted 160 countries to have positive income per capita growth.

  • Now it is 170 countries with negative income per capita growth.

  • Now this, we call "the Great Reversal."

  • Very painful.

  • And three, uncertainty.

  • We always live with uncertainty, Chris,

  • but this time,

  • it is the uncertainty of a novel coronavirus

  • that policymakers have to integrate.

  • We at the Fund combine epidemiological projections

  • with our traditional macroeconomic modeling

  • to see through that uncertainty.

  • I must add to this,

  • I very much hope that when we go on the other side in the recovery,

  • we can use a new term and call it "the Great Transformation."

  • Make the world a better place.

  • CA: Well, I'll be excited to come on to that in a bit.

  • But in this moment of responding to the crisis,

  • the main tool that seems to have been executed,

  • at least by the rich countries,

  • has been this massive economic stimulus,

  • to the tune of trillions of dollars.

  • Is that a wise response?

  • KG: It is a necessity.

  • And you don't hear the Fund often telling countries,

  • "Please, spend.

  • Spend as much as you can."

  • And that is what we do now.

  • We do add to that,

  • "And keep the receipts.

  • Don't lose accountability to the citizens, to the tax payers."

  • The reason financial injection is necessary,

  • these fiscal measures of almost nine trillion dollars are necessary,

  • is because when the economy is standing still,

  • unless there is help,

  • unless there is monetary policy stimulus,

  • firms are going to go massively bankrupt,

  • people would be unemployed,

  • the economy would be scarred.

  • When we go to the other side,

  • this scarring is going to make the recovery much more difficult.

  • So that is a wise thing to do,

  • and it helps the fact that central banks in major economies

  • have been acting in a synchronized manner

  • and that fiscal stimulus came really, really fast.

  • This is how we see people being able to go through this

  • very, very tough time.

  • CA: But how far can it go?

  • Because it's been described, in a sense, as "printing money" --

  • governments are issuing more and more bonds

  • that have to paid back at some point.

  • There's this term, in economics, of the Minsky moment,

  • where things can go very well for a while,

  • as everyone believes that, you know,

  • that the train can keep running,

  • the cycle can keep turning,

  • you know, that governments have all this money.

  • At some point, though, doesn't that break down?

  • Do you worry that we may be nearing a Minsky moment,

  • where, like Michael in Mary Poppins

  • grabs his tuppence and starts a run on the bank.

  • Is there stress in the international financial system now

  • that concerns you,

  • that makes you feel that we may be running out of headroom?

  • KG: Of course, this cannot go on forever.

  • I, for one, have trust in our scientists,

  • I think we will see breakthroughs,

  • and we will see also people in businesses

  • getting accustomed to social distancing,

  • to micromeasures that protect from spreading the disease.

  • We have seen very massive injection in health systems,

  • so hospitals can actually treat people that are coming for help.

  • Obviously, if it is to go for a very long time,

  • we would be worried.

  • For now,

  • what we are projecting

  • is that there would be a gradual reopening --

  • we see it already happening in a number of countries.

  • And we project for next year, 2021,

  • a partial recovery.

  • Not a full recovery, unfortunately,

  • but coming to a better place.

  • Now, what helps us

  • is something that I don't particularly love,

  • but I see it as a positive feature --

  • very low interest rates,

  • in some cases, negative --

  • that allows this injection of fiscal measures and liquidity

  • to be sustained over a number of years.

  • And for now, we do not see on the horizon

  • any return to increase in interest rates.

  • So low for longer,

  • and that is, in that environment, a helpful feature.

  • CA: I mean, the financial crisis of 2008

  • came perilously close to breaking the entire financial system --

  • arguably, it did that.

  • By most people's calculation,

  • this is a far worse impact to the economy overall.

  • Did the world learn something from 2008

  • that has helped us so far be resilient this time?

  • KG: What the world learned is that the financial system

  • has to be tested

  • and then strengthened to withstand shocks.

  • And that is helping us tremendously today.

  • The banking system is resilient,

  • and even in the nonbanking financial institutions,

  • there is more attention paid

  • to how far can you go without running into trouble.

  • I would say,

  • if you look around the world,

  • the most important lesson then was "build resilience to shocks."

  • Those who have done it cope now better.

  • And those who have not done it are in a much tougher spot.

  • And actually, for the Fund,

  • what we are praying

  • is that we will come out of this crisis with this lesson about resilience

  • being spread beyond the banking system,

  • so we actually have this crisis-management mindset

  • for a world that is inevitably going to be more shock-prone,

  • because of climate

  • and also because of the sheer density of economic and social life on our planet.

  • CA: In your role,

  • you're paying special attention to the situation in developing countries.

  • And it does seem that they're facing a really terrible situation right now.

  • Many of them have significant debt denominated in dollars.

  • In the current crisis,

  • their currencies are depreciating against the dollar,

  • making it nigh impossible for them to execute the kind of injection,

  • stimulus injections,

  • that the rich countries are doing

  • and seems to be the only way out.

  • So that seems like a really dangerous cycle.

  • Is there any way to break that cycle?

  • KG: Well, let me first separate

  • countries that have built strong fundamentals.

  • And now in this crisis,

  • as we are receiving incoming data,

  • not very many, but there are still some positive surprises,

  • and they come from countries that have built stronger buffers,

  • stronger fundamentals,

  • have been more disciplined during good times.

  • But indeed, we do see

  • quite a number of emerging markets, developing countries,

  • faced with multiple pressures.

  • They had the hit from the coronavirus,

  • many of them with weak health systems.

  • Then, they have the high level of indebtedness,

  • from before the crisis,

  • which creates a much more difficult environment for them.

  • Then, many of them are commodity exporters.

  • Commodity prices, oil price,

  • they went down very dramatically,

  • that hits them again.

  • Many rely on remittances.

  • Remittances shrunk some 20 to 30 percent.

  • And then you have a number of countries that are highly dependent on tourism.

  • Tourism is the hardest hit sector, or one of the hardest hit.

  • So, very tough for these countries,

  • but this is why institutions like mine have been wisely created.

  • The IMF, the World Bank, the regional development banks,

  • we work very closely together in this crisis.

  • The IMF, fortunately,

  • that was one of the lessons from the 2008-2009 crisis --

  • make sure that in the center of the financial safety net is an IMF

  • with financial strength.

  • We have four times more money to lend today

  • than we had then.

  • From 250 billion to one trillion dollars.

  • And of course,

  • we are deploying these funds

  • exactly for the countries that need us the most.

  • And we did one more thing.

  • With David Malpass, the president of the World Bank,

  • we called for a debt moratorium for the poorest countries

  • to their official bilateral creditors.

  • And people tend to say, "Oh, we don't work together,

  • it's not good enough."

  • But here is an area where we made this call in late March,

  • and in mid-April,

  • the G20 agreed on this moratorium.

  • Amazing, we had the Paris Club, China,

  • the Gulf countries,

  • all agreeing that we should not suffocate the poorest countries

  • by asking them to pay their debts

  • when their economies are standing still.

  • CA: Is it possible that some developing countries

  • are overdoing the lockdown policy?

  • I mean, if large numbers of your citizens are already struggling to stay alive,

  • isn't it almost like a death sentence to order them not to leave their homes?

  • KG: Well, Chris, one of the most heartbreaking conversations I would have

  • is with leaders of countries where they have to stare in the face

  • a choice of people dying from the virus

  • or dying from hunger.

  • And it is a very dramatic situation for them.

  • Where you have a very large part of your economy

  • being informal,

  • where people live hand-to-mouth every day,

  • the lockdowns we have in advanced economies

  • are not quite applicable,

  • but even there,

  • countries are doing really well in social distancing

  • to the extent it is possible.

  • Many of the countries in Africa

  • were very early to step up preventive measures.

  • Why?

  • They learned from the Ebola, they learned from prior crises

  • that hygiene,