scroll to top arrow or icon

{{ subpage.title }}

World Bank Group President Ajay Banga listens during the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' Meetings at the IMF and World Bank’s 2024 annual Spring Meetings in Washington, U.S., April 18, 2024.

REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

The big challenges facing the IMF and World Bank

As the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings wrap up Friday in Washington, the two crucial global lenders face a few important challenges in the year ahead. GZERO has been on the ground to bring you the big takeaways.

A tale of two recoveries. The IMF’s global economic outlook is fairly rosy as a whole. Inflation is easing in the US and Europe, and 3.2% growth of global GDP is a respectable clip – especially given recent fears of a recession. The US and Chinese economies are both growing, even if Beijing is still struggling with persistent debt and property market woes.

But the recovery has yet to reach every corner of the globe. One-third of the lowest-income countries are poorer today than in 2019, before the pandemic. And because inflation has pushed up interest rates, the costs of servicing sovereign debt have skyrocketed, an especially heavy burden for lower-income countries. Bringing financial stability to these fragile situations is a key focus for the IMF and the World Bank.

Read moreShow less
How to tackle global challenges: The IMF & World Bank blueprint
How to tackle global challenges: The IMF & World Bank blueprint | Global Stage

How to tackle global challenges: The IMF & World Bank blueprint

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s Spring Meetings in Washington have told a tale of two economies: In the developed world, inflation is falling, and recession looks unlikely. But many of the world’s poorest countries are struggling under tremendous debt burdens inflated by rising interest rates that threaten to undo decades of development progress. That means these key lenders of last resort have their work cut out for them.

The good news? There’s a proven model, as GZERO Senior Writer Matthew Kendrick discussed with Tony Maciulis at a Global Stage event while reporting on the meetings. Somalia, once the byword for a failed state, managed to implement massive reforms to its financial system to meet the guidelines of the IMF’s Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.

Read moreShow less

People gather as they watch from afar after an alleged gang member was killed and set on fire, amid an escalation in gang violence, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti March 20, 2024.

REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol

Want to stabilize the world’s worst crises? “Leave your textbook in your drawer.”

Matthew Kendrick spoke with Ghassan Salamé, the former head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, and former UN Deputy Secretary-General Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, as part of a panel at the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings on Wednesday.

The international community is struggling to address half a dozen conflicts, spanning from the Middle East to Haiti, that often involve institutions poorly equipped to tackle modern problems. But that doesn’t mean they can afford to stop trying; it just means they need to get creative.

“The most urgent need is to bring back humanitarianism as a domain independent from war,” said Ghassan Salamé, the former head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, noting that the basic concerns of food, education, and healthcare must not be held hostage to military objectives. “And you cannot apply it in a selective way. You have to apply it in Ukraine with the same strength you do in Gaza.”

Read moreShow less

Students read Koranic verses at a madrasa, or Koranic school, in Dhusamareeb, central Somalia, December 16, 2012.

REUTERS/Feisal Omar

IMF says economic picture is rosy, but how does it look from the bottom?

Inflation looks set to fall globally, and a global recession is unlikely in 2024, according to the IMF’s April update to the World Economic Outlook. That so-called “soft landing” is great news for those in New York or Paris, but what does the picture look like from the most vulnerable economies?

Money has been tight for developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, with many over-indebted states are only just returning to capital markets after COVID-19’s economic knock-ons shut them out, and face dim medium-term growth prospects.

Read moreShow less

Ghana, Accra, 2023-02-16. Young schoolchildren in uniform learning multiplication tables. Illustration image of children in a school in Ghana. A little girl is at the blackboard reciting in front of the class.

Photograph by Jean-Francois Fort / Hans Lucas via Reuters

To get rich, Ghana needs to wise up

About a quarter of all the chocolate you eat comes from Ghanaian cacao, so with prices at all-time highs, Ghanaian farmers should be raking it in. Instead, they’re selling at fixed prices to a government that’s struggling to settle its debts after a crushing $30 billion default last year.

On Monday, Ghana failed to reach a debt deal to restructure $13 billion in debt, breaching the terms of its International Monetary Fund bailout and pushing the country to the brink. According to the IMF, Ghana is borrowing too much in the same high-interest rate environment that led to the original default. If the government cannot formulate a plan that meets IMF standards, it risks $360 million in upcoming relief.

Read moreShow less

Argentina's Economic Minister Sergio Massa during a news conference at the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Argentina to IMF: Please give us (even) more $$$

As early as this week, Argentina's high-profile Economic Minister Sergio Massa is expected to travel to Washington, DC, in a last-ditch bid to ask the IMF for more funds on top of $44 billion worth of debt the country already owes to avoid yet another default.

Read moreShow less

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt poses with the budget box at Downing Street in London, Britain March 15, 2023.

REUTERS/Hannah McKay

A new attitude and a new budget: Can the Tories make a comeback?

Weeks after the International Monetary Fund forecast that the UK will be the worst-performing advanced economy this year, British Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Wednesday handed down a fresh national budget. (Though the independent Office for Budget Responsibility now says that the economy will only contract by 0.2% this year, an improvement on previous forecasts of 1.4%.)

Budgets can have a massive impact on politics. You’ll likely remember that ephemeral PM Liz Truss’ “mini” budget last fall caused the markets to nosedive, leading to her swift resignation.

Read moreShow less

Electoral campaign posters are seen ahead of Nigeria's Presidential elections, in Yola, Nigeria, February 23, 2023.

REUTERS/Esa Alexander

What We're Watching: Nigerians vote, Biden's World Bank pick

Nigeria's presidential election head-scratcher

Nigerians go to the polls Saturday to vote in what is being billed as the most open presidential election in Africa's most populous country since democracy was restored in 1999. That's mostly thanks to buzz about Peter Obi, a third-party candidate who's leading most polls ahead of both Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the ruling party's pick, and opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar. With almost half the electorate undecided, Obi faces tough odds. First, to win outright, he must get the most votes nationwide and at least 25% in at least two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states – but he doesn’t have strong party machinery to turn out voters. Second, if no candidate meets both conditions, the election goes to a runoff between the most-voted for candidate and — here's where it gets complicated — the one who placed second in the highest number of states. Also, keep an eye out for the rollout of machines to verify biometric voter ID to curb fraud. If the devices malfunction or are not widely deployed, expect many Nigerians to consider the election anything but free and fair.

Interested in the Nigerian election? Listen to Amaka Anku, head of Eurasia Group’s Africa practice, on this GZERO podcast in collaboration with The Center for Global Development podcast.

Read moreShow less

Subscribe to our free newsletter, GZERO Daily