Financial and Monetary Systems

What just happened at the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings?

APRIL 18, 2024  - WASHINGTON DC., 2024 World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. Transforming Challenge into Action: Expanding Health Coverage for All.The World Bank Group has announced an ambitious plan to support countries in delivering quality, affordable health services to 1.5 billion people by 2030. Health care is an investment, not an expense. Affordable accessible health care can unlock human capital and economic dividends for countries. Speakers: Ajay Banga, President, World Bank Group; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization; Shun’ichi Suzuki, Minister of Finance, Japan; Mohamed Maait Minister of Finance, Arab Republic of Egypt; Dr. Muhammad Pate, Minister of Health, Nigeria; Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, Indonesia; Joanne Carter, Executive Director, RESULTS; Lamia Tazi, CEO, Sothema; Senait Fisseha, Vice President of Global Programs, The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation; Shakuntala Santhiran, International broadcast journalist and Moderator. Photo: Grant Ellis / World Bank

Here's your round-up of the week. Image: Grant Ellis / World Bank

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  • The World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) held their annual Spring Meetings from 15-20 April in Washington DC.
  • The week saw the publication of key reports on global growth and financial stability as well as announcements on funding initiatives.
  • The IMF's Kristalina Georgieva will join leaders for the World Economic Forum's Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development from 28-29 April.

Against a backdrop of heightened tension in the Middle East, two global financial institutions established 80 years ago to further economic stability in the wake of World War II met for their annual Spring Meetings.

The meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) focused on building resilience in the world economy.

"What we want is a world where growth is stronger, living standards are higher and low-income countries are not falling down. A world that is more resilient to the shocks that will continue to come," said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

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Georgieva urged countries to "finish the job" of taming inflation and shoring up fiscal buffers that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent cost-of-living crisis.

Key events included meetings of the Development Committee, a ministerial-level forum of the World Bank Group and IMF to build intergovernmental consensus on development issues, and the International Monetary and Finance Committee, the IMF's steering committee.

During the week, several sessions were live-streamed to the public, and are available to catch up on, including a seminar led by Gita Gopinath, the IMF's First Deputy Managing Director, on Capital Flows and Growth: Where is the Money Going?

Here's a round-up of the week, including key quotes, the main headlines and report launches.

World Economic Outlook: Growth projections

The IMF published its flagship World Economic Outlook on 16 April, with a press briefing as one of the scheduled Spring Meetings sessions.

It found that the global economy has been "surprisingly resilient, despite significant central bank interest rate hikes to restore price stability".

Global growth was projected to continue at 3.2% for 2024 and 2025, with the forecast for this year revised up by 0.1 percentage point from the January 2024 World Economic Outlook Update.

Growth projections.
Growth is expected to continue at 3.2% for the next two years. Image: IMF

Georgieva said in a press conference, that productivity across Europe and consumer spending in China were the key to boosting global growth.

The IMF's chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas told a press conference that "the global economy continues to display remarkable resilience with growth holding steady and inflation declining, but many challenges still lie ahead."

He warned that a potential escalation of the Middle East conflict could have a "strong effect" on limiting growth, raising oil prices and inflation, and triggering tighter monetary policy from central banks.

Global Financial Stability: Risks receding

The IMF also published its Global Financial Stability Report, which assesses risks to global financial stability. It found that near-term risks had receded as it's expected the reduction in the rate of inflation (or disinflation) is "entering its last mile".

"Confidence in a soft landing for the global economy is growing against a backdrop of better-than-expected economic data in many parts of the world," the report said.

But this came with a warning that the last mile of disinflation, may be complicated by several "salient near-term financial fragilities", and medium-term vulnerabilities including growing public and private debt and China's housing market downturn.

The report also assesses risks to corporate private credit and the growing threat of cyberattacks.

Near-term financial stability risks have receded.
Near-term financial stability risks have receded. Image: IMF

Meanwhile, the IMF, World Bank and G20 president, Brazil, announced there had been "significant progress on global debt issues" in recent months, after a meeting of the Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable on the sidelines of the Spring Meetings.

Outside of the meetings, Indermit Gill, the World Bank’s Chief Economist, told The Guardian that the G20's common framework – a tool to speed up and simplify debt restructuring – was "not working".

"If the money from debt relief was coming in dribs and drabs, I would say OK, but there hasn’t been a single dollar of debt relief from the common framework.”

Affordable health for 1.5 billion people

Since taking over the helm as president of the World Bank in June 2023, Ajay Banga has spearheaded an "evolution agenda" through reforms, which will expand the bank's traditional development and anti-poverty mission to include fighting climate change and other global crises.

Climate change, pandemics, conflict, societal aging, and a shortage of healthcare workers are exacerbating poverty and inequality, with some 2 billion people unable to afford health services.

The World Bank Group announced plans to provide quality, affordable health services to 1.5 billion people by 2030 as part of a global effort.

“Providing a basic standard of care for people throughout their lives is critical for development,” said Banga. “This ambition won’t be realized with a solo effort. It will require partners, a coalition of public and private sector, working together to expand access to health care services.”


How is the World Economic Forum improving the global financial system?

Electricity in Africa for 300 million by 2030

The World Bank Group announced it has joined forces with the African Development Bank Group to provide electricity access to at least 300 million people in Africa by 2030.

Lack of electricity access in Africa is a significant barrier to healthcare, education, productivity, digital inclusivity and job creation.

Banga said: "Electricity access is the bedrock of all development. It is a critical ingredient for economic growth and essential for job creation at scale. Our aspiration will only be realized with partnership and ambition. We will need policy action from governments, financing from multilateral development banks, and private-sector investment to see this through."

The road to IDA21 replenishment

The World Bank's fund for the poorest countries, the International Development Association (IDA), is replenished every three years, with the 21st replenishment (IDA21) in progress in 2024. Donor governments are due to make final pledges in December.


It's a key financing tool to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is faltering.

Speaking at the Spring Meetings, Germany's Development Minister Svenja Schulze told Reuters Germany would provide €305 million of hybrid capital, which will allow the bank to mobilize an additional €2.4 billion.

"With this, the World Bank can operate more quickly and in a targeted manner," she said.

As countries tackle persistent inflation and the economic implications of wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, donor fatigue has set in and the share of development aid to the world's poorest countries has dropped.

Share of global aid to least developed countries falls.
How development aid has declined over the past 20 years. Image: Reuters

Development for poorest nations in reverse

The World Bank warned that the income gap between the world's wealthiest and poorest countries was widening for the first time this century.

In its report, The Great Reversal: Prospects, Risks, and Policies in International Development Association Countries, the bank looked at the opportunities and risks facing the 75 countries eligible for grants and zero to low-interest loans from IDA.

It found that between 2020 and 2024, average-per-capita incomes in half of IDA countries – the largest share since the start of this century – have been growing more slowly than those of wealthy economies. One in four people in IDA countries lives on less than $2.15 a day.

“The world cannot afford to turn its back on IDA countries,” said Indermit Gill, the World Bank Group’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President.

“The welfare of these countries has always been crucial to the long-term outlook for global prosperity. Three of the world’s economic powerhouses today – China, India and South Korea – were all once IDA borrowers. All three prospered in ways that whittled down extreme poverty and raised living standards. With help from abroad, today’s batch of IDA countries has the potential to do the same.”

Held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 28 to 29 April, the meeting brings together the world’s top academics, politicians, business, youth, and civil society leaders to engage in addressing the most pressing issues on the global agenda.

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