A Global Pandemic Bailout Was Coming—Until America Stopped It

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In mid-April, in a normal year, American citizens rush to finish their tax returns, and the world’s financial elite gathers in Washington, D.C., for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. It is an unmissable diary entry for finance ministers, central bankers, and finance types from around the world. The spring meetings, unlike the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, are an occasion at which policy is actually made.

This year is different. Taxes aren’t due until July, and the financial elite is grounded. As the world economy reels from a shock more sudden and dramatic than ever before, the annual gatherings of the IMF and World Bank this week have been reduced to conference calls. As French President Emmanuel Macron put it: “We have stopped half the planet to save lives. There are no precedents for that in our history.”

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