More than a year into a crisis like no other, we have mobilized a response like no other.
As of the end of April, the IMF had approved loans to 86 countries totaling more than $110 billion since the onset of the pandemic—a record number. The August 2021 approval of a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) is another unprecedented action. At $650 billion, this is the largest allocation in the IMF’s history, and it will substantially boost the reserves and liquidity of the IMF’s member countries, without adding to their debt burdens. We are also exploring options for those with strong financial positions to voluntarily channel SDRs to vulnerable countries.
Together with the swift and extraordinary measures taken by governments and central banks, these actions helped put a floor under the global economy in the early stages of the crisis and provided the basis for the emerging recovery. But this recovery is on two tracks: economic fortunes across countries are diverging dangerously, driven by dramatic differences in access to vaccines and the scope to provide policy support. While advanced economies are bouncing back, the crisis is deepening for many emerging market and developing economies.
The most urgent task remains to get the world vaccinated as quickly as possible. In May, IMF staff put forward a $50 billion plan that targets vaccinating at least 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021, and 60 percent by the first half of 2022—an investment that would boost global economic activity by trillions of dollars over the next few years.
Closing this gap is key to ending the pandemic and ensuring a sustainable long-term recovery everywhere.
A second immediate priority is helping countries deal with growing public debt burdens. High levels of debt heading into the crisis left many low-income countries more vulnerable and continues to limit their ability to provide much-needed policy support. We expanded concessional financing for low-income countries and provided debt relief to 29 of our poorest members, giving them some breathing space. But more needs to be done, including through the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatments, which the IMF is actively supporting.
Finally, the world needs to seize the opportunity to build forward better. We must put in place policies that not only strengthen the near-term recovery, but transformative policies that provide a foundation for a greener, more digital and inclusive global economy of tomorrow. More than ever we see the profound implications climate change has for macroeconomic performance and financial stability, and we are putting these critical aspects of climate action at the core of our work.
This Annual Report highlights the IMF’s work and coverage in these areas, through policy advice, lending, and capacity development. Along with the unstinting efforts of our staff, it emphasizes the work of the IMF’s Executive Board, whose guidance and oversight are central to our efforts to ensure global financial stability and growth.
Much about this pandemic and our response has been unprecedented, but our founding values—centered on global cooperation and support for our 190 member countries—endure.