The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the coronavirus outbreak has eliminated hopes of stronger economic growth in 2020 and will likely cap output gains to the lowest rate since the 2008-09 financial crisis.
Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, a Bulgarian economist, said on March 4 that the IMF now sees world growth to be below the 2.9 percent rate achieved in 2019, perhaps falling to the 0.7 percent level seen in 2009.
She told a news briefing that the IMF, considered the world’s lender of last for resort for governments, will likely publish revised forecasts in the next few weeks.
"Global growth in 2020 will dip below last year's levels, but how far it will fall and how long the impact will be is still difficult to predict," Georgieva said.
The epidemic "is no longer a regional issue -- it is a global problem calling for a global response," Georgieva told reporters.
The Washington-based lender had previously forecast 3.3 percent growth for 2020.
Georgieva declined to say whether the crisis over the COVID-19 virus could push the world into a recession.
The IMF will make $50 billion in emergency funding available to help poor and middle-income countries with weak health systems respond to the epidemic, she said.
Georgieva added that some $10 billion of that can be accessed by the poorest countries at zero interest for up to 10 years.
The virus has forced the closure of factories, disrupted travel, infected nearly 95,000 people worldwide, and killed more than 3,200, mainly in China.