Opening Remarks for Annual Meetings Press Conference

October 17, 2019

As Prepared for Delivery


Welcome to the 2019 Annual Meetings! It is an honor to speak with you today, as I begin my first meetings as Managing Director of the IMF.

As we start these meetings – with a slight chill in the air – I thought about the words of the Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin. He wrote:

“The breath of Autumn begins to ice the roadway.” [1]

Unfortunately, that is a fitting description of the current outlook . But I believe we can still travel forward safely and efficiently, despite the slippery terrain. Let me explain what we see ahead.

The Global Economy is Now in a Synchronized Slowdown

We are forecasting slower global growth this year and next — 3.0 percent in 2019 and 3.4 percent in 2020. In both cases a downgrade from our April projections.

Measured by GDP, nearly 90 percent of the world is experiencing slower growth.

As I said in my curtain raiser speech, this means the global economy is now in a synchronized slowdown.

Fractures , driven by trade, Brexit, and geopolitical tensions, are holding back growth. They are causing hazards on our shared roadway and forcing the slowdown.

So, what can we do about it?

What Can we do to Travel Safely and Efficiently? 5 Priorities

The Global Policy Agenda, which you all have, explains the steps we recommend.

I see 5 priorities.

1) The first is to undo the harm on trade and find a lasting solution that will help us build a stronger trading system.

I was encouraged by last week’s announcement from the U.S. and China. Our meetings are an opportunity for all parties to make progress in moving from a trade truce to a trade peace.

2) The second priority is to use monetary policy wisely. Accommodative policy remains appropriate in many countries.

To be effective, all central banks need to maintain their independence and communicate their plans clearly. At the same time, we cannot ignore the financial stability risks that come with prolonged low rates.

3) This brings me to my third priority, enable fiscal policy to play a more central role. Now is the time for countries with room in their budgets to deploy – or get ready to deploy – fiscal firepower.

Of course, with global public debt at a record high, this advice will not work everywhere.

4) One thing that all countries need to consider is structural reforms. My fourth priority.

Lagging productivity calls for measures to achieve stronger, more inclusive, and more resilient growth over the medium and long-term.

From cutting red tape to boosting female labor force participation there are a range of ways countries can invest in their futures. Potential job losses from automation, dislocations from trade, and aging populations makes the need for reforms even more urgent.

5) My fifth and final priority is promoting stronger international cooperation . This extends well beyond trade. From financial regulatory reform, to addressing climate change, to safely adapting to fintech, to fighting money laundering, so many of our challenges do not recognize borders.

Our solutions must operate by the same principle.

The IMF, which sits at the center of the global financial safety net, is a good example of international cooperation working well. I am encouraged by our members’ efforts to ensure that the Fund remains adequately resourced and that governance reforms continue. We hope to have more on this during these meetings.


Before I conclude, one additional bit of news. I am pleased to announce that beginning January 1st, 2020, all IMF publications in digital formats will be made available free to the public. It is just one more way the IMF is serving all our members.

So what is my goal for the days ahead? I want to make progress in all of the areas I have outlined this morning, and in the process secure a safer and more efficient journey on the challenging road ahead.

With that, I am happy to take your questions.

[1] Alexander Pushkin. On Autumn. 1833

IMF Communications Department


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