• 21-APR-2022

  • Washington, D.C.

IMF Global Debate Highlights

The US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell signaled a half-point rate hike is in the cards soon to combat inflation at the IMF on Thursday (April 21) in Washington, DC.

“The thing I want to say, though, is we really are committed to using our tools to get two percent inflation back. And I think if you look at, for example, if you look at the last tightening cycle, which was a two-year string of 25 basis point hikes from 2004 to 2006, inflation was a little over three percent. So inflation is much higher now, and our policy rate is is still more accommodative than it was then. So it is appropriate, in my view, to be moving a little more quickly. And I also I also think there's something in the idea of front end loading whatever accommodation one thinks is appropriate. So that does point that points in the direction of 50 basis points being on the table. Certainly, we make these decisions at the meeting and we'll make a meeting by meeting, but I would say that 50 basis points will be on the table for the main meeting,” said Powell.

President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde sounded cautious on raising interest rates too soon or too high.

“Inflation is one component that for us is critically important in order to determine whether inflation expectations are well anchored at around two percent or whether they are at risk of dying occurring. So that's what I have on my mind all the time, but they're moving up a little bit, aren't slated to be fixated on a day. A time in the day doesn't make any sense to me because once we say that we are data dependent, for goodness sake, let's wait until we have the data and then we move on to the decide and we've agreed on a sequence,” Lagarde said.

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley said that higher interest rates would have a negative impact on smaller countries ability to repay debt accrued fighting pandemic and urged wealthy countries to look at ways to relieve the burden.

“The reality that these are the things you said to us at the beginning of the pandemic was that you needed us to spend the money, but keep the receipts. And we did, in fact, keep the receipts, with easy to identify COVID specific debt. It should even be easy to identify climate related debt. But what we do because of our high rates of deficit already is to put roots on another international balance sheet. You can perhaps have a pandemic trust and you can have a climate adaptation trust. But the reality is is that what we need is to be able to move it off our balance sheet because if it is on our balance sheet, then it precludes us from being able to achieve the SDGs, which is our normal development trajectory,“ Mottley said.

The IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings for the first time in its history failed to produce a unanimous communique, in large part due to disagreement over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But IMF Managing Director said that on most things there was consensus.

“You probably have heard the story of communiques not materializing didn't materialize for us at the IMF. See? But but. Even. Everybody agreed on the substance of the policy conclusions and recommendations, everybody. Everybody and then we had one member that said, well, but you're saying something else there that I don't agree with. It is very, very early, in my view. To go and buy a coffin for globalization. It’s not dead yet,” declared Georgieva.

And the G20 was also wracked by disagreements over the role of Russia in the organization. Indonesia holds the chair for this year’s G20, and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said that Russian president Vladimir Putin had been invited as a matter of course.

“All the country in the G20 received the invitation. In terms of the arrangement of the meeting itself, just like what we have yesterday. It was not easy, but at the end they are all in the same room. But if you don't agree and you want to express this politically, like Christine, you walk out. So that's another expression of the politics, but it doesn't prevent us to talk about the substance, which is important not only serving the G20, but also for the rest of the world, “ said Sri Mulyani.

The full event can be viewed at the IMF’s YouTube channel or at IMF.org.