Economy IMF and Argentina hold ‘constructive’ debt talks at Vatican

IMF and Argentina hold ‘constructive’ debt talks at Vatican

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IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and Argentina’s Economy Minister Martin Guzman attend a conference hosted by the Vatican on economic solidarity, at the Vatican, February 5, 2020.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and Argentine Economy Minister Martin Guzman have held what both said were constructive talks on the Latin American country’s debt crisis.

The talks, which lasted two-and-a-half hours, took place on Tuesday night, the two said as they entered a Vatican conference on economic solidarity on Wednesday.

Guzman told Reuters that his talks with Georgieva were “very good and constructive”.

Georgieva told reporters inside the conference that it was a “very constructive meeting. We discussed the intentions of the government to stabilize the economy, to address the debt issue and do so while not losing sight of the most vulnerable people”.

Argentina needs to restructure $100 billion in sovereign debt with creditors, including the IMF, amid a steep recession with inflation above 50%

The Vatican conference at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences brought together more than 25 government officials, religious authorities, and economists, including Joseph Stiglitz, the 2001 Nobel laureate in economics.

“We are going to discuss how the world economy can be more oriented towards the needs of everyone, how it can serve the aspirations of all people and it (the Vatican) is a good place to have that discussion,” said Georgieva, who is Bulgarian.

She said her meeting with Guzman “was a good opportunity to meet and I am very grateful to the Vatican for all the efforts that have been made for this seminar to take place.”

Last Friday, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez met Pope Francis and said the pontiff, who is also Argentine and lived through a previous debt crisis when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, had promised him to do everything he could to help with the current one.

Fernandez has promised to bridge social divisions and roll out a massive credit system with low rates to bolster domestic demand, and to boost spending to address hunger and poverty.

Stiglitz told the conference that the current Argentine debt crisis gave the world an opportunity “to show that there is an alternative approach to the one that has failed persistently in the past”.

He called for “a framework that simultaneously should appeal to notions of economic rationality and to our sense of social solidarity, a common humanity, which at this point in history seems so under attack”.