The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its Global Financial Stability Report, noting "increased financial stability risks" in the global economy. The report notes that large-scale economic shocks are particularly concerning to global stability. It argues that such risks are greatest for countries with high debt levels and that emerging market countries must be prepared for external shocks. Particular concern is raised on the consequences of currency volatility, the shadow financial system and high corporate debt. The report is a follow-up to the IMF's semi-annual World Economic Outlook Report, which noted uneven global growth, particularly among developing economies.
"The IMF recognizes we need global structures to protect us when there's a major crisis," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA Network. "Countries with high debt levels are the most vulnerable to those crises."
The Global Financial Stability Report focuses on the systemic issues that create global economic trends. It notes that debt levels are rising in emerging markets and that increased risks over the past six months are impacting those countries the most. It argues that policy measures are necessary to "contain financial excesses" in global markets and to improve growth.
"The IMF is concerned that inequality persists, especially in the developing world" said LeCompte. "The IMF notes that the key to stability is addressing debt and tax policies that underlie uneven growth."
The latest World Economic Outlook Report, released at the beginning of the IMF / World Bank Spring Meetings, projects the global economy to grow 3.5% in 2015. It notes that growth projections are lower than expected in some regions, including Sub-Saharan Africa. The IMF now projects Africa's growth to be much lower than it did in its October, 2014 report, citing the Ebola epidemic and falling commodity prices. The World Bank projects that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will lose a combined $1.5 billion due to Ebola in 2015 alone. Meanwhile, $1.3 billion leaves those nations each year due to crime, corruption and tax evasion and the three countries spent more than $80 million paying off debt the year the outbreak began. The year before the disease first took hold in Guinea, that country spent more money on debt than on public health. In February, the IMF announced $100 million in debt relief for the three countries and created a new debt relief trust fund for poor countries in times of crisis.
"Ebola harmed countries that were already struggling due to high debt burdens," noted LeCompte. "We need structures that help the most vulnerable. The IMF's debt relief fund is a good example and a good start."