In the spring of 2020 the streets of the major commercial capitals of the world from Lagos to Shanghai, London, and New York were eerily quiet. So too was Washington DC. Normally in April the American capital plays host to the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank, great global gatherings of money people. But in 2020 both DC and the global economy were on lockdown. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva addressed her colleagues on video.
The world was facing, she declared, a “crisis like no other”. For the first time since records began, the entire world economy is contracting, rich and developing countries alike. In the space of six weeks 30 million Americans have tried to sign on for unemployment insurance. World trade is suffering an interruption even more savage than in 2008. In India, the unemployment rate has surged to over 23 percent. Unofficial estimates put it at 20 percent in China. By the end of April, more than half the membership of the United Nations had applied to the IMF for help.
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