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IMF Head Says Growth No Longer Enough

Delegates of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) gather at the spring meetings of the IMF/World Bank in Washington, April 16, 2011
Delegates of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) gather at the spring meetings of the IMF/World Bank in Washington, April 16, 2011
Nico Colombant

Even as countries around the world are posting better economic growth rates two years after a global recession, officials from the International Monetary Fund say that is not enough to improve the livelihood of most people.

Global finance chiefs at the so-called spring IMF-World Bank meetings have raised concerns about unsustainable public debts and harmful currency exchange rigidities, as well as the economic effects of recent natural disasters in Japan and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn put the emphasis on persistently high worldwide unemployment. "Growth is not enough because the old paradigm from which if you had growth then the rest will follow does not work anymore. So we need absolutely, not only to take into account the problem of growth, which is our mandate, we also have to have some ideas in the way growth will become, transform or produce jobs," he said.

The IMF head said this situation contributed to the uprisings in countries like Egypt or Tunisia, where the economies were growing fast and getting good reviews from economic experts, but unemployment and discontent remained high.

Strauss-Kahn said he was also worried about higher fuel and food prices in developing countries.  He said while economies around the world are back on the upswing in terms of macro-economic numbers, most people are not getting any benefits. "Most people in the streets do not feel that their own life has improved. To feel this gap is not really the job of this institution but we cannot be blind.  So the fact that when ministers meet, they need to take this into account is absolutely obvious, and I think it has been acknowledged by everybody during these meetings," he said.

During Saturday’s press briefing, IMF officials stressed the importance of cooperation and multilateralism for finance ministers to help reverse economic difficulties.

They called on all economic actors, including themselves, to take actions early and manage global risks pro-actively to reduce the prospect of another economic downturn.

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