‘Buckle Up’ as Inflation Fight Threatens Growth, IMF Chief Warns

(Bloomberg) — International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said she expects slowing growth from higher borrowing costs will make next year feel like a recession for millions of people, even if the global economy avoids a technical downturn. 

“Increased interest rates will bite and we will see the impact on growth,” Georgieva said in an interview Wednesday in New York with Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua.

“For hundreds of millions of people it will feel like a recession, so buckle up,” she said. “Hopefully, if we get inflation under control, then we can see a foundation for growth and recovery.”

Surging prices have forced central banks worldwide to tighten monetary policy, which is expected to cool inflation but risks tipping economies into recession. In the US, Federal Reserve officials pivoted to aggressively lifting rates to tame the fastest price increases in four decades. 

Rate hikes in the US have also helped strengthen the dollar, which makes it harder for countries to service dollar-denominated debt and worsens their own inflation pain. 

Georgieva also said in the interview there was “no doubt” the IMF’s board would soon approve a so-called food-shock window, a mechanism to help countries hit by the supply crisis spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted grain shipments. 

The war-torn country could be one of those to benefit from the effort, Georgieva said on Sept. 13 after speaking with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Ukraine could get aid similar to the $1.4 billion in emergency resources received in March, just days after the war began, Georgieva said previously. The nation faces a fiscal gap of as much $5 billion monthly, according to government’s estimates. Kyiv is also scheduled to repay about $4 billion in debt to the IMF by 2024.  

The IMF will start a mission to Ukraine in October, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday. Last week, he criticized the Washington-based lender for being too slow to reach a new deal now that Ukraine is fighting back against a full-scale invasion by President Vladimir Putin’s troops, which started in February. 

Kyiv officially applied for a new IMF loan program in August and hoped to get an initial disbursement as early as November.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

© Bloomberg. Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaks during a panel session on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday, May 23, 2022. The annual Davos gathering of political leaders, top executives and celebrities runs from May 22 to 26. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

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