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  • Hello, I'm Stephanie Flanders.

  • On today's episode I'll be speaking

  • with the International Monetary Fund's

  • chief economist Gita Gopinath.

  • The IMF has just produced its latest forecast

  • for the global economy

  • and they're pretty bleak.

  • It's expecting the global economy

  • to shrink by three percent this year.

  • That would be the steepest global reduction

  • since the Great Depression,

  • certainly worse than anything that happened

  • in the global financial crisis.

  • Gita Gopinath, looking at these forecasts,

  • I noticed that you have your baseline scenario

  • for the global economy

  • and then everything else,

  • all the alternatives are worse.

  • What's driving the IMF's forecast

  • that we're heading for this economic contraction

  • and why do you think that all the alternative scenarios

  • could be even worse?

  • So our baseline assumes

  • that the pandemic and the containment measures

  • will peak in the second quarter

  • for most countries in the world

  • and then come off gradually in the second half.

  • But clearly that's not a given

  • and talking to epidemiologists

  • and public health officials,

  • there's certainly no certainty that'll happen.

  • Now there are some countries where you are seeing

  • containment measures working

  • and there is a flattening of the curve

  • and the number of new cases are coming down.

  • But it's still too early to say,

  • which is why we look into these other scenarios

  • where the containment measures

  • need to go into the second half of this year

  • and even into 2021.

  • And if that happens,

  • then it will be doubling of the downturn

  • which is from three percent,

  • a negative three percent to negative six percent in 2020

  • and almost no recovery then in 2021.

  • So it would be much worse.

  • Does the IMF need new tools

  • to deal with this crisis,

  • help emerging market economies

  • get the support they need

  • or is it just about scaling up what you already have?

  • At the IMF, we've had close to 100 countries

  • come to us for financing needs.

  • Just in the last how long?

  • Well, in the last four weeks,

  • a total of about 100.

  • So it's a very large number coming in a very short time.

  • I don't think we've had 100 countries come to us before.

  • So this is unprecedented

  • and then of course the speed at which

  • is even more unprecedented.

  • Globally, we've seen governments and central banks

  • do all they can very quickly

  • to limit the damage done

  • by the shutdown of the economy

  • to defeat the virus.

  • Despite all that extraordinary effort,

  • how worried are you about the permanent damage

  • to the economy and to society

  • that might come from this crisis?

  • I think there is a substantial risk in that.

  • This is a crisis that's affecting

  • small and medium enterprises

  • along with some of the big ones

  • and getting to them is much harder.

  • There is a lot to be concerned about here.

  • Another thing I would want to flag

  • is that while in the past when there's been a crises

  • and you have all the stimulus in the system,

  • it is a stimulus,

  • which means you want people to go out and spend,

  • you want folks to invest now,

  • but that's not what the other side of this crisis is,

  • which is a health crises.

  • And at the same time

  • all of this stimulus is in the system

  • we want people to stay at home

  • and not exactly go out and spend.

  • So it's a very different transmission channel

  • - -

  • The hope is that you will keep people

  • with sufficient income

  • so that they can meet their needs,

  • that firms and businesses can stay afloat,

  • that once we get past this period of lockdown,

  • that things would recover much faster.

  • But the economic landscape

  • will look very different

  • once we come out of this lockdown.

  • And I think there is tremendous uncertainty.

  • Gita Gopinath, chief economist of the IMF,

  • thank you very much.

  • Thank you, Stephanie.

  • on inequality and the economic cost of inequality

  • in recent years

  • and we've certainly seen the impact of the crisis,

  • the big difference between employees and big companies

  • who perhaps have quite strong employment rights

  • and those in the gig economy

  • who don't have that job security,

  • bearing the brunt of this crisis.

  • Do you think there'll be a new focus on those inequalities

  • after this crisis?

  • For countries to come out of this really grim situation,

  • and this is true for all countries in the world,

  • it's going to be important to get everybody

  • to be able to survive this crises and to come out whole

  • at the other end.

  • And so having this kind of inequality

  • which leads to permanent losses of income,

  • people coming out losing out of the labor force

  • where they can't maintain basic livelihoods

  • doesn't help anybody.

  • It doesn't help even from just a pure world perspective.

  • So I think absolutely,

  • I think it's very important for the world

  • to ensure that there are again I would say

  • automatic systems in place

  • that get triggered whenever something like this happens

  • to ensure that people get the support that they need

  • and also to make sure

  • that in normal times,

  • that there is an equitable distribution

  • of income in the world.

Hello, I'm Stephanie Flanders.

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