Welcome to the 2017 World Bank Group/IMF Spring Meetings. I’ll say a few words on what I’ll be discussing with our shareholders this week, and then we’ll take your questions.
As always, the global economy is high on the agenda.
We are encouraged to see stronger economic prospects after years of disappointing global growth. There are still many downside risks, however, and countries that have the fiscal space need to continue with structural reforms. This is vital to accelerating the sustainable and inclusive economic growth needed to end extreme poverty by 2030.
We’re meeting at a time when we face several overlapping crises, both natural and man-made, all of which add urgency to our mission.
You and your colleagues have been reporting on them every day:
- Climate shocks;
- The worst refugee crisis since World War II; and
- Famine in parts of East Africa and Yemen, which the UN has called the worst in 70 years.
With the famine in particular, the world was caught unprepared. Too often, we forget about crises as soon as they abate – leading to a cycle of panic and neglect. We’re already working with the affected countries and partners to respond to the famine – and we will use every tool we have, financial and advisory, to prevent famine in the future. On Saturday, I will convene a meeting co-chaired with the United Nations-Secretary General to ensure a coordinated, effective, and well-resourced response.
In addition to fragility, accelerations in technology are changing the landscape. We estimate that two-thirds of all jobs that currently exist in developing countries will be wiped out by automation.
At the same time, the internet, smart phones, and social media allow everyone to see exactly how everyone else lives, which is causing aspirations to rise all over the world. I see this everywhere I go.
So in the midst of these crises, and with rising aspirations, we must change the way we work.
We have to find new and innovative ways to reach the poor, and make the world more secure and stable. Last week at the London School of Economics, I outlined how we’re working to change our approach.
We have to start by asking whether the private sector can finance a project. If the conditions aren’t right, we will work with our partners to de-risk that project or, if needed, de-risk entire countries or sectors.
This won’t be easy. It will require agreement across the entire international development finance system – multilaterals and bilaterals – to move the global development architecture in this direction.
But this is the only way to act with the speed and the scale that these times require.
Here’s the good news: There’s never been a better time to find those win-win solutions. There are trillions of dollars sitting on the sidelines, earning little interest, and investors are looking for better returns. That capital should be mobilized to help us meet the exploding aspirations of people all over the world. And with the crises we face, our task is much more urgent than we ever thought.
I’m happy to take your questions.