IMF chief hopes for global policy response to mitigate coronavirus impact

FILE PHOTO: IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a conference hosted by the Vatican on economic solidarity
FILE PHOTO: IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a conference hosted by the Vatican on economic solidarity, at the Vatican, February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

February 14, 2020

MUNICH (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund hopes governments and central banks will work on a response to the coronavirus outbreak once the economic impact becomes clear, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Georgieva said the next few weeks would be crucial to build up a “bottom-up” picture of the impact of the virus in China and worldwide.

“So then we can agree on synchronized, or even better, coordinated measures to protect the world economy from a more serious shock,” Georgieva told delegates. “Can we do it? Yes. Are we going to do it? I actually think that we will.”

The coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 1,100 people and infected more than 44,000 in China after it first emerged in Wuhan, Hubei province, late last year.

China’s economy is struggling to get going after the annual Lunar New Year holiday, which was extended for 10 days to help contain the outbreak of the new and highly contagious respiratory virus, officially called 2019-nCov.

Georgieva warned against trying to make accurate predictions now because of a lack of information and said experts forecasting the economic impact were taking a risk.

Her main concern was a containment of the epidemic that led to an economic recovery but then was followed by another outbreak of the virus.

“We are looking at data very carefully … we have to do what people in rapid response do: pray for the best and prepare for the worst,” Georgieva said.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Edmund Blair and Catherine Evans)