David Lipton says world is unprepared for downturn and Fund needs more resources

Canary Wharf. London

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The storm clouds of the next global financial crisis are gathering despite the world financial system being unprepared for the next downturn, the deputy head of the International Monetary Fund has warned.

David Lipton, the first deputy managing director of the IMF, said that “crisis prevention is incomplete” more than a decade on from the last meltdown in the global banking system.

“As we have put it, ‘fix the roof while the sun shines.’ But like many of you, I see storm clouds building, and fear the work on crisis prevention is incomplete.”

Lipton said individual nation states alone would lack the firepower to combat the next recession, while calling on governments to work together to tackle the issues that could spark another crash.

“We ought to be concerned about the potency of monetary policy,” he said of the ability of the US Federal Reserve and other central banks to cut interest rates to boost the economy in the event of another downturn, while also warning that high levels of government borrowing constrained their scope for cutting taxes and raising spending.

Lipton said the IMF went into the last crash “under-resourced” before it was handed a war chest worth $1tn (£790bn) from governments around the world, while adding that it was important that world leaders had agreed to complete a review of the fund’s financial firepower next year.

“One lesson from that crisis was that the IMF went into it under-resourced; we should try to avoid that next time.”

Speaking to an audience at Bloomberg in London, Christine Lagarde’s deputy called on China to take urgent steps to open up its economy to global competition.

Against a backdrop of Donald Trump engaging in a bitter trade dispute with Beijing, he said China needed to lower trade barriers, while also impose tougher rules to protect intellectual property – a key complaint of the US president.

Lipton suggested that Chinese trade policies that were once considered “acceptable” when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 as a $1tn economy may now be inappropriate as it had become a $16tn international superpower.

However, he did warn that the US should not take an overly heavy-handed approach to reform, adding: “China has many reforms that it could carry out that would be in its own interest and in the interest of countries around the globe. But China feels they can’t take those steps as they put it with a gun to their head, in the midst of trade tensions.”

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