Are global economic inequalities worsening?


Yes, said the majority of respondents in a recent GZERO poll.

What’s happening in Ukraine has reversed much of the momentum to narrow the equality gap created during the pandemic, Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, said in a live chat on Global Stage organized by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft. The event took place onsite at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, DC, and was moderated by New York Times Federal Reserve reporter Jeanna Smialek. The war compounded pre-existing problems such as high inflation and supply chain disruptions. A ceasefire would help end all of this, but don’t count on it.

This week, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are holding their annual spring meetings. Conflict is high on the agenda, as is financial aid to help Ukraine first keep the lights on and one day rebuild when the Russians leave.

“We’re working on it,” World Bank President David Malpass said, joining the discussion just minutes after meeting with Ukrainian officials. Beyond the conflict itself, Malpass is now more broadly concerned about the global economic slowdown and whether central banks have the tools for a soft landing after raising interest rates to fight inflation.

One country that has successfully resisted the Russian threat is Lithuania, whose Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė spoke about his country’s long-term energy independence strategy. Lithuania recently became the first EU member state to completely wean itself off Russian fossil fuels.

And what about the ripple effects of the conflict in other parts of the world, such as food security? This is a big problem in countries in the Middle East and North Africa that rely heavily on Russian and Ukrainian wheat imports, such as Egypt.

Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister for International Cooperation, explained how her country has diversified its food imports to mitigate the impact of these disruptions.

Later this year, Egypt will host the COP27 climate summit. But more importantly, just before this meeting there will be a G20 summit in Indonesia – and Russia will be invited there.

What’s going to happen ? Will the United States and its allies come out of theaters when the Russians show up? The G20 consensus has been fragmented, said Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati. Indeed, added Bremmer, who believes the war in Ukraine is “ripping the geopolitical fabric apart” for years to come.

Finally, Vickie Robinson, head of Microsoft’s Airband initiative to expand broadband access in the developing world, shared her perspective on how getting more people online will help to achieve global equality.


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