IMF, global finance leaders fret over populist backlash

Thu Oct 6, 2016 8:58pm EDT
 
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By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World finance leaders on Thursday decried a growing populist backlash against globalization and pledged to take steps to ensure trade and economic integration benefited more people currently left behind.

Their comments at the start of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank fall meetings signaled frustration with persistently low growth rates and the surge of public anger over free trade and other pillars of the global economic system.

The meetings are the first since Britain voted in June to leave the European Union and U.S. billionaire Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination with a campaign that attacked trade deals.

"More and more, people don't trust their elites. They don't trust their economic leaders, and they don't trust their political leaders," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said during an IMF panel discussion in Washington.

"In the UK, everyone from the elites told the people, 'don't vote for a Brexit.' But they did."

Schaeuble said Germany was trying to "hold Europe together" in the face of rising nationalism, and failure to do so would bode poorly for global economic cooperation.

Last week, the World Trade Organization slashed its global trade volume growth forecast to the slowest pace since 2007, saying it expected it to rise just 1.7 percent this year, down from the 2.8 percent it forecast in April.

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Bank of England Governor Mark Carney (L) and IMF Director General Christine Lagarde field questions during a panel discussion at the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank Group in Washington, October 6, 2016. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan