"Global economy’s recovery hinges on stimulus, virus battle"
Global finance leaders said the world economy had escaped a coronavirus-triggered collapse so far, but warned that failure to conquer the pandemic, maintain stimulus and tackle mounting debt among poor nations could crush fragile recovery.
At the start of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank (IMF) issued slightly improved growth forecasts spurred by unexpectedly stronger rebounds from coronavirus lockdowns in the wealthiest countries and China.
The IMF said it now expected global gross domestic product to shrink 4.4% in 2020, compared to the 5.2% contraction it predicted in June, when business closures were at their peak. Some $12 trillion in stimulus supplied largely by advanced economies limited the damage, but poor countries and other emerging market economies faced a worsening picture, the global lender said.
“The story is less dire than we thought three months ago, but dire nonetheless,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said during a panel discussion that was held virtually.
Georgieva said governments needed to stay focused on their healthcare responses to the coronavirus and must not withdraw stimulus prematurely.
“If we cut these lifelines that have been extended to families and businesses before we are out of the health crisis, this could be catastrophic in terms of bankruptcies, unemployment and undoing all that has been done so far,” she added.
Underscoring concerns that it could take longer to develop promised treatments for the virus, United States drug companies Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson said they were pausing clinical trials of an antibody treatment and vaccine, respectively, over safety concerns.
The Group of 20 major economies, in a draft communique seen by Reuters, said the outlook was “less negative” due to the positive impacts from actions already taken, but the recovery will be “uneven, highly uncertain and subject to elevated downside risk.”
“We will sustain and strengthen as necessary our policy response, considering the different stages of the crisis, to secure a stable and sustainable recovery,” G20 finance ministers and central bank governors said in the draft ahead of a meeting on Wednesday.