Economic Growth

Expect the unexpected: The IMF’s Kristalina Georgieva on what's ahead for the global economy

Kristalina Georgieva pictured speaking at Davos 2024.

Many economists believe that the economy will weaken this year. Image: World Economic Forum

Simon Torkington
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • The head of the International Monetary Fund shares what leaders can expect from the global economy in 2024.
  • Kristalina Georgieva stressed the need for leaders prepare for a range of scenarios, especially given technological change and geopolitical shifts.
  • The IMF Managing Director's full interview is available on our World Economic Forum podcast Meet the Leader.

In a world beset by conflict and rising geopolitical tensions, predicting the trajectory of the global economy isn't always possible. However, leading economists can help us put these risks and opportunities into context - and better prepare for what's next.

At the recent Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva did just that as she sat down with our Meet the Leader podcast host Linda Lacina about what leaders can expect for the coming year.

A full transcript of that conversation is available here, but the highlights are below:

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Georgieva spoke about the challenges the world economy faces, highlighting that “2024 is going to be a year where monetary policy has to finish its job and fiscal policy has to stop delivering buffers for shocks to come in the future."

To tackle inflation, Georgieva, says there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. While the IMF has said that the global inflation rate is projected to be at 5.8% in 2024, Georgieva stressed that that number is drawn "from many different rates in so many different places."

“The rate is going down on average." she said. "What we now have is a very diverse range. In some countries, the job is already done."

What does it mean for central bankers? Think data first. "Don't rely on looking at what others are doing because you should focus on the data in your country. Do what is right for you'.

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In these challenging times geopolitically, Georgieva warned that leaders must be prepared for any eventuality, especially given the billions globally who will vote in elections this year.

“Think the unthinkable – expect the unexpected. We have to really watch carefully how the world evolves and recognize that this is a year where half of the (global) population is going to go to the polls. It’s very difficult to then have fiscal authorities tightening so they can have the resources their countries, their people, need for the future.”

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She urged leaders to consider the shocks from the past few years and what that might mean for strengthening future resilience. "When I reflect on the last couple of years, nobody expected the pandemic to put the world economy to a stop. Nobody expected Russia to invade Ukraine. Nobody expected that a long history of very low inflation, very low interest rates would be abruptly interrupted."

"What I want is a world that is better prepared," she added. "We want countries to have sound macroeconomic and financial policies. Buffers, so when a shock comes, they can withstand it."

"It is so important in this world that we all do our part. And frankly, a more shock prone world means we need each other, Strength in unity."

Despite a swirl of global challenges, she said she believes leaders will find ways to create inclusive, constructive solutions.

"I think we will see the world using technology and collaboration, despite all the tensions, despite the fragmentation, to bring a better future for our grandchildren."

Said Georgieva: "I am a diehard optimist."

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