Christine Lagarde urges wealth redistribution as Ray Dalio warns on populists

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaks during a panel session at the World Economic Forum on Jan 18, 2017.
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaks during a panel session at the World Economic Forum on Jan 18, 2017. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

DAVOS (BLOOMBERG) - International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde called for greater wealth distribution to respond to populist advances across the world, as hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio predicted the possible end of globalisation.

Policy makers "really have to think it through and see what can be done" given the feedback from voters who say "No", Ms Lagarde told a panel chaired by Bloomberg Television's Francine Lacqua at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday (Jan 18).

Among measures that could be implemented are fiscal and structural reforms, she said.

"But it needs to be granular, it needs to be regional, it needs to be focused on what will people get out of it and it probably means more redistribution than we have in place at the moment," Ms Lagarde told the panel entitled Squeezed And Angry: How To Fix The Middle-Class Crisis.

Excessive inequalities were a brake on sustainable growth, she said.

Mr Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, sounded a more pessimistic note.

"We may be at a point where globalisation is ending, and provincialisation and nationalisation is taking hold," he told the panel, adding that he expected more protectionism.

"The No. 1 issue economically as a market participant is how populism manifests itself over the next year or two."

The economic and political fallout from the success of anti-establishment forces, from Brexit to last month's Italian constitutional referendum and the US election, and how to deal with them, has been a key theme of the Davos gathering.