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IMF Support for COVID-19 Recovery

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IMF Support for COVID-19 Recovery
An image showing several gold bars.

The IMF’s Gold: A Global Resource or a Chimera?

The market value of the IMF’s gold—about US$170 billion at end 2020—far exceeds its historic cost on the Fund’s balance sheet of under $5 billion. Not surprisingly, this has led some to see the IMF’s gold as a “free” resource that should be tapped to meet pressing global needs. And these calls have become louder as the demands of meeting new challenges—from climate change to the pandemic—have confronted flat or shrinking aid budgets.

Publication

The IMF’s concessional support for low-income countries (LICs) is provided primarily through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT). Since the start of the pandemic, lending from the PRGT has risen very sharply in response to the unprecedented and urgent needs of LICs; total PRGT credit outstanding nearly doubled during 2020 to far exceed past peaks. This note considers possible financing sources, taking into account legal, political, and practical constraints including the timeliness with which different resources could be mobilized.

An image of a colourful African market

Enabling Substantial IMF Lending to Low-Income Countries for the Recovery

As global leaders begin to put together an international financing package to help low-income countries (LICs) recover from the COVID-19 crisis, they are looking to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be a critical financial and policy anchor for LIC’s sustainable economic recovery. We propose a five-step plan that ensures sufficient resources are available to meet a high level of demand for new loans over the next few years.

Publication

Since Covid-19 emerged there have been numerous calls for an allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as part of a broader effort to assist low-income countries (LICs) in dealing with the fallout from the pandemic. So far, these calls have been thwarted by political opposition from some of the IMF’s shareholders, in part because SDR allocations are not well-targeted towards LICs or developing countries in general.

Publication

Many prominent people have advocated that the IMF undertake an “SDR allocation” to assist countries in dealing with the global financial crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. If IMF shareholders show some leadership and bureaucratic flexibility, there are ways to allay the American government’s concerns and quickly get liquidity in the hands of countries who desperately need it.

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