IMF report urges G20 to prepare global economic stimulus plan

Reuters

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen at the IMF headquarters building during the 2013 Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, April 18, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen at the IMF headquarters building during the 2013 Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, April 18, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas
The Group of 20 nations must plan now for a coordinated stimulus program to keep a slowing global economy from stalling, International Monetary Fund staff said in a report on Wednesday.
The report was prepared for senior G20 officials who are meeting in Shanghai later this week amid falling equity markets, volatile currencies and signs of economic weakness throughout the world.
"The G20 must plan now for coordinated demand support using available fiscal space to boost public investment," IMF staff said in the report.
The Shanghai meeting is already being compared to the G20 meeting in April 2009 when officials agreed on coordinated stimulus to prevent a worldwide depression during the global financial crisis.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew downplayed expectations of a G20 emergency plan this week, telling Bloomberg Television that some world economies were doing better than thought and that investors should not "expect a crisis response in a non-crisis environment."
But the IMF staff said global economic growth was slowing and financial conditions were tightening for emerging economies, where commodity exporters have been hard hit by an economic slowdown in China.
"These developments point to higher risks of a derailed recovery," according to the report.
Governments around the world may need to create new financing mechanisms to help some emerging market and commodity exporting countries that are highly vulnerable to reversals in the flows of money, the IMF staff said.
The IMF will conduct a review this year of how countries should manage capital flows and will focus its attention on the sources of capital and where the funds are allocated.
Investor cash rushed out of poorer or underperforming economies and into the United States in the run-up to the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate hike in December, which ended seven years of near-zero rates.
That weakened emerging market currencies, making their exports more expensive at a time when global demand for commodities had also fallen.
In January, the IMF cut its forecast for 2016 global economic growth to 3.4 percent from 3.6 percent. The staff report on Wednesday said another downgrade was likely in April.
The IMF staff also called on advanced economies to rely less on monetary policy and more on fiscal policy to support economic growth. They said emerging market economies should adopt flexible exchange rates when feasible and use foreign exchange interventions only on a temporary basis.

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