COVID-19 Crisis Worst in IMF History as Officials Anticipate Lengthy Recovery

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In Brief
  • The IMF managing director says the current economic crisis is unparalleled in the organization's history.

  • Both WHO and IMF officials suggest that future recovery requires present restrictions.

  • Markets reflect the fact that the road to recovery may be long.

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) Director Kristalina Georgieva sees the current economic crisis as the worst in the organization’s history. [CNBC] The analysis was presented at a news conference at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.



Georgieva told reporters that COVID-19 has generated a financial collapse that is unparalleled. In her estimation, it is far worse than the economic crisis of 2008, with the world economy coming to a “standstill.”



Pain for the weak

The director also made clear that the virus-induced economic shutdown is having a greater impact on developing economies than mature ones. Just as the virus is believed to attack the less healthy, the economic crisis is crippling economically weaker nations.

The immediate impact is felt because of the lack of financial resources. Most developing nations have few reserves to help prop up the economy during seasons of crisis.

Further, developing nations are also more dependent on exports, which exacerbates the weakness. The crisis has caused investors to exit developing economies to the tune of $90 billion already. Georgieva said:

“This is way more than during the global financial crisis, and some countries are highly dependent on commodities exports. With prices collapsing, they are hit yet again.”

As of the press conference, 90 nations had solicited relief from the IMF. With $1 trillion in its coffers, the agency has pledged to use all its resources to support failing economies.

Long road

The hope for economic restarts, particularly in these developing countries, remains elusive. Removing the ‘stay at home’ restrictions, or allowing companies to begin functioning with any normalcy, could increase economic risk.

According to WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus, those nations that seek to open economies too quickly will have greater economic crises. [CNBC] This, he argues, would be due to further waves of the virus devastating populations.

The IMF agrees that the need of the hour is continued economic closure. Per Georgieva, recovery will be a lengthy process, requiring nations to take drastic steps now to promote stability later.

Markets matching

With the global economy at a standstill, most investors see danger in nearly every sector. Bitcoin has seen relative stability at or near $6,500 over the past week, as investors appear to have weathered the most painful season. A return to highs seen at the beginning of the year, however, may require widespread economic recovery. As the IMF has suggested, the road ahead could be long.

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With a background in science and writing, Jon's cryptophile days started in 2011 when he first heard about Bitcoin. Since then he's been learning, investing, and writing about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology for some of the biggest publications and ICOs in the industry. After a brief stint in India, he and his family live in southern CA.

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