22 Dec 2008

Spend up, IMF urges governments

7:21 pm on 22 December 2008

The head of the International Monetary Fund is urging governments around the world to spend more - at least $US1.2 trillion more.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn says he fears that measures announced by the Group of 20 nations last month will not be enough.

The group agreed that measures should be taken to stimulate global economic activity, but left it to individual governments to decide precisely how.

Mr Strauss-Kahn says the IMF's forecast for 2009 is already very dark and he feared it would be even darker without more fiscal stimulus.

He says it would take a spending stimulus equivalent to 2% of global GDP, or about $US1.2 trillion, to make a real difference.

The Bank of Spain's governor, Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez is even more pessimistic, saying the world faces financial meltdown of a kind unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

"The lack of confidence is total," he said, adding that the inter-bank lending market was not functioning, and economic activity among consumers, businesses, investors and banks was essentially frozen.

"There is almost total paralysis, from which no one is escaping."

In Japan, official figures revealed a trade deficit of $4.3 billion last month as exports fell at their fastest rate on record.

They show the deficit reversed a surplus of nearly $100 billion in November last year.

Japan has historically enjoyed a big trade surplus because of brisk demand for its cars and other goods.

But the recent financial turmoil and a strong yen have hit exports hard.