IMF-World Bank meetings billed a success by officials

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde meeting organisers at a handicraft exhibition on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank meetings in Bali yesterday. She described the meetings, which drew 36,669 delegates and other participants from all over the
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde meeting organisers at a handicraft exhibition on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank meetings in Bali yesterday. She described the meetings, which drew 36,669 delegates and other participants from all over the world, as an incredible achievement.PHOTO: REUTERS
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde meeting organisers at a handicraft exhibition on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank meetings in Bali yesterday. She described the meetings, which drew 36,669 delegates and other participants from all over the
SINGAPORE'S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAMPHOTO: BLOOMBERG

They hope momentum from the spirit of collaboration will help ease tensions between the biggest economies

The annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank hosted by the resort island of Bali were a success, officials said yesterday, adding that they hope the momentum from the meetings could help ease tensions between the world's biggest economies.

In a press briefing yesterday, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde described the meetings as an incredible achievement and compared them to a wedding ceremony. "You prepare for a long, long, long time and then it goes through so smoothly," she said.

The meetings, which started last Monday, occurred at a time when the global economy is facing rising risks from escalating trade tensions between the United States and China, coupled with monetary policy tightening in a number of economies.

Ms Lagarde warned policymakers to build adequate monetary and fiscal buffers as they brace themselves for more market volatility, against the backdrop of continued financial tightening and uncertainties in the global economy triggered by the trade disputes.

"Now is not the time to say, okay, fine, let's just relax and do a bit of fiscal tolerance here and a slowing of reforms," she told Bloomberg Television.

The former French finance minister added that to address the trade issues, countries must "de-escalate the tensions, and open and reform the dialogue".

At the press briefing yesterday, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said she received positive feedback from all participants - ministers, central bankers and other guests - of the meetings.

 

"No one gave me any - even small - complaint about this event," she added. "So it's very successful. Amazing."

IN A LIGHTER VEIN, TO SPUR ACTION

This was an economist called Elvis Presley, who's unfortunately deceased now but made a significant impact on economic thought. And in one of his master treatises, he said: 'A little less conversation, a little more action, please. A little less fight, and a little more spark. Close your mouth and open up your heart, and, baby, satisfy me.'

SINGAPORE'S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM, quoting lines from Presley's song, A Little Less Conversation, as he wrapped up yesterday's Group of 30 International Banking Seminar, which saw central bankers speak on the need to work together on trade issues.

Dr Sri Mulyani, formerly the managing director of the World Bank, said she hoped that the spirit of coordination and collaboration at the meetings would provide "comfortable protection" during "winter time", a reference to Indonesian President Joko Widodo's speech on Friday.

Drawing from popular television series Game Of Thrones, Mr Joko had warned finance ministers and central bankers that "winter is coming", noting that the current global economy faces looming challenges from market turmoil to technological disruption to climate change.

Indonesia will pass its position as host to Morocco, which is set to hold the meetings of the 189-member IMF and its sister development organisation, the World Bank, in 2021. The meetings are held outside their headquarters in Washington once in three years.

At the press briefing, World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim urged countries to stand together and embrace unity amid ongoing woes in the global economies.

"The challenges can turn into crisis if we don't face them together. The strongest tool that we have to battle those challenges is the kind of solidarity that is embedded in multilateralism," he said.

The meetings drew 36,669 delegates and other participants, including journalists and academics, from all over the world to Indonesia, where an earthquake and tsunami recently rocked one of its major islands, Sulawesi.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2018, with the headline 'IMF-World Bank meetings billed a success by officials'. Print Edition | Subscribe