IMF Gives Barbados a Nod with Comments

The raging Covid 19 pandemic continues to test human and financial resources of all countries especially Small Island Developing States (SIDs). Many have forgotten that before the pandemic the sorry state of the local economy. Despite the nod from IMF Van Selm (Mr. BERT) that “in this very challenging environment, Barbados continues to make good progress in implementing its ambitious and comprehensive economic reform program, while expanding critical investments in social protection.” A simple-minded blogmaster must ask Prime Minister Mottley what is the mid/long term plan to sustain the economic and social well being of the country? The blogmaster acknowledges this is a difficult time.

David, blogmaster

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has concluded its February virtual visit to Barbados. The IMF team, which held meetings with local officials from February 2 to 5, was led by Bert van Selm.

At the end of the visit, van Selm issued a statement in which he acknowledged the economic impact of the COVID pandemic on Barbados’ economy:

“The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact on Barbados. The economy is estimated to have contracted by about 18 percent in 2020, with a gradual recovery projected to start in 2021. Tourism arrivals remain at a fraction of normal levels, and recent increases in COVID-19 cases in key source markets, including the US and the UK, will likely delay the recovery. In addition, a recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Barbados led to an ongoing lockdown that will reduce economic activity in the first quarter of this year.”

The statement noted that “in this very challenging environment, Barbados continues to make good progress in implementing its ambitious and comprehensive economic reform program, while expanding critical investments in social protection.”

Van Selm confirmed that the island had met its December targets under the Enhanced Fund Facility (EFF) programme.

The statement also highlights several of the structural changes that are ongoing or have been completed:

“A new central bank law, aimed at strengthening the autonomy of the bank while limiting the provision of credit to the government, was adopted by parliament in December 2020. An actuarial review of the civil service pension system was completed in November 2020, providing the basis for upcoming public pension reform. A new procurement law to strengthen the fairness, integrity and transparency of the procurement process is expected to be submitted to parliament in February.”

Source: Central Bank of Barbados

Read the full text of the IMF report:-

February 5, 2021

  • The global coronavirus pandemic is causing a deep recession in Barbados. 
  • Implementation of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) program remains strong, despite the COVID-19 shock. 
  • Program targets under the Fund-supported program for end-December 2020 were met, and international reserves reached more than US$1.3 billion at the end of December.

Washington, DC – February 5, 2021: At the request of the Government of Barbados, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Bert van Selm conducted a staff visit via videoconferencing between February 2-5, 2021 to discuss the implementation of Barbados’ Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) plan, supported by the IMF under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). To summarize the mission’s findings, Mr. van Selm made the following statement:

“The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact on Barbados. The economy is estimated to have contracted by about 18 percent in 2020, with a gradual recovery projected to start in 2021. Tourism arrivals remain at a fraction of normal levels, and recent increases in COVID-19 cases in key source markets, including the US and the UK, will likely delay the recovery. In addition, a recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Barbados led to an ongoing lockdown that will reduce economic activity in the first quarter of this year. 

“In this very challenging environment, Barbados continues to make good progress in implementing its ambitious and comprehensive economic reform program, while expanding critical investments in social protection. Key indicative targets for end-December under the EFF were met. International reserves, which reached a low of US$220 million (5-6 weeks of import coverage) at end-May 2018, increased to more than US$1.3 billion at the end of 2020. 

“Strong steps have been made in implementing structural reforms. A new central bank law, aimed at strengthening the autonomy of the bank while limiting the provision of credit to the government, was adopted by parliament in December 2020. An actuarial review of the civil service pension system was completed in November 2020, providing the basis for upcoming public pension reform. A new procurement law to strengthen the fairness, integrity and transparency of the procurement process is expected to be submitted to parliament in February.

“The team is looking forward to conducting discussions for the fifth review under the EFF in May and would like to thank the authorities and the technical team for their openness and candid discussions.” 

IMF Communications Department


PHONE: +1 202 623-7100EMAIL: MEDIA@IMF.ORG


83 thoughts on “IMF Gives Barbados a Nod with Comments

  1. The IMF grants us excellent marks (which I expected due to outstanding government work). Nevertheless, we should postpone the elections by one legislative period to 2028 so that our government can implement the necessary reforms undisturbed, for example, the streamlining of the public sector and the necessary currency devaluation.

    By the 200th anniversary of emancipation (2034), all reform steps, especially the lowering of wages for the masses, should have been carried out so that we can celebrate without any worries.

  2. Especially when parliament crooks helped steal 5-6 BILLION DOLLARS from the fragile economy.

    slaves and yardfowls never see reality.

    as long as IMF sees a way to get their payments…and overhaul yall fraud system to their benefit…life is good.

  3. Our socialist redistributionists now want to raise the minimum wage. And this, of all things, in the worst economic crisis in 200 years. This shows once again why Barbados has had no economic growth since 2008 – everyone wants money, but no one wants to work for it.

    1000 to 2000 BBD per month is good enough even for people with college degrees. People don’t have to go shopping in Miami or London every week. A wooden house under palm trees, what more do you want?

  4. You have an obsolete system that intelligent countries are moving away from, but fools are still using the element of dependency on a dead sector to try to revive the dependency without diversifying…..and expect to boast that they’re doing something so spectatular, when they’re going nowhere fast…..that’s the fallout from oppressing and suppressing the social and economic progress of 2 generations of black people…more fallout to come.

    the only thing i see spectacular is the economic crash of a slave society.

  5. One comment by the IMF provoking commment is the prospect of a restructuring of public pension. It is an expense the government is struggling to reconcile.

  6. Kudos to the IMF for getting a black govt to turn their citizens in modern day slaves to pay back debt to the international financial institutions
    Meanwhile unemployment is at an all time high
    Bridgetown in burggdown lockdown and our beloved elderly dies from COVID
    Guys uh must be proud of yuhself looking from the outside in and giving your views of an exceptional barbados built on more borrowing from yuh all scoundrels

  7. IMF don’t have to care, yall are the ones borrowing their money after robbing ya own people billions of dollars for tiefing minorities….if the deficit wasn’t so large because of those thefts, yall won’t need IMF…..ya don’t want to put black people first, so that’s what ya get…can’t cry now.

    the citizens have to find a way to leave the dumb government with the debt….let them and racists pay it back..

  8. DavidFebruary 6, 2021 3:23 PM Fairly obvious that the old pension scheme will be closed and funded to balance (hopefully), then a new one implemented with a private insurance company, deductions from employees salary / wages.

    Not rocket science. I guess many of the oension funds of insurance companies worldwide will be lush in funds now, with the death of many aged due to Covid. Sorry to be crass, but that is true.

    Many aspects of social spending will change. Probably adjustment to the medical scheme, such that insurance will pay for those who have it and maybe legislation to require it. Free care only to those who do not have insurance.

    But, the game will have to raise. If it is being paid for directly, people will expect better service, not languishing in the A&E for 48 hours before being seen and another three days to get a bed.

  9. This country, in fact the whole world, because the vast majority of people in the socalled Atlanticist countries suffer as well from this financial imperialism.

    Certainly, when a titularly sovereign country must wait for every word from the mouths of the people at the IMF as if manna from heaven it should tell us what is real and where sovereignty really lies. Certainly not in Bridgetown.

  10. DavidFebruary 7, 2021 4:36 AM I find it hard to see how they can escape grandfathering the existing. Hence, why I referred to it being closed and funded to balance.

    Although, I guess that it is possible to just do a flat rate cut, say 25% and require current deductions to increase.

    On the MP’s, surely they will take adjustment too, if not, the general one will not go down well. Maybe the ages for that will change, if not terms. Many MP’s do not serve more than two terms. So it would not be fair to exclude them.

    But the age of receiving it may change? Or the structuring with an insurance company instead of with the government coffers? That may be key, getting it out of government ongoing payments. So, the day the MP retires there is no more government payment, that is the insurance company’s responsibility.

  11. PachamamaFebruary 7, 2021 4:35 AM

    Once a country is trading internationally and needs correspondent banking and credit facilities, this is to be expected. It is not about financial imperialism. It is about the ability of each country to fulfill its obligations.

    A country’s sovereignty really lies in how much it depends on other countries for survival. Sending up the debt by purchasing crap does not help. Bajans need to get off the crapwagon and produce more locally.

  12. TronFebruary 6, 2021 3:09 PM People don’t have to go shopping in Miami or London every week. A wooden house under palm trees, what more do you want?

    Quite right. Get off the crapwagon and buy more local. Enjoy more, get healthy by eating vegetables and less office work eight to seven trying to be like New York. More exercise and enjoyment on evenings.

    That is the life.

    Better eating + less office work + more exercise and fun minus crap = happier and healthier.

    Could not agree more Mr.Tron the Satiricist.

  13. If I may use Mr.Bush Tea’s word….

    Only Brassbowls try to be like New Yorkers, when the island life can be easier. Live better, not chasing the dollar.

    Fighting Covid-19 an increasing burden on Govt finances
    By Shawn Cumberbatch
    Government’s declaration of war against COVID-19 has it leaning more heavily on the public purse in the final weeks of its 2020-2021 financial year.
    The Mia Amor Mottley administration is also bailing out more stateowned enterprises (SOEs) suffering revenue shortfalls during the pandemic and allocating additional funds to help keep the domestic economy moving.
    With the current financial year ending on March 31, the authorities have already had more than $470.28 million in supplementary monies approved by Parliament, the largest of which was the $165.58 million resolution passed last Tuesday.
    This year’s unbudgeted financing has already surpassed the $174.69 million in supplementary resolutions for the 2019 to 2020 period, most of it ($103.63 million) approved by Parliament on March 20 last year as Barbados started its fight against COVID-19.
    This included $71.57 million “to facilitate the purchase of medical supplies for use in containment of COVID-19, renovations to buildings at Harrison Point in St Lucy, to ensure that there is adequate provision of drugs on the island for a six month period, to facilitate the purchase of specialised medical equipment”.
    Financial supplementaries are common during the fiscal year, but the demands on the Consolidated Fund have been greater since April 1.
    Based on information published by Parliament, most of the monies have been in response to the pandemic, with a large share allocated to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
    The increased financial demands prompted Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn to urge Barbadians “to appreciate that what is required of us over the . . . two weeks [of national lockdown] will in fact determine the trajectory with respect to the overall performance of the economy for the remainder of not just the financial year but certainly 2021”.
    Government’s health spending this financial year has increased to the point where outside of the $116 million annual subvention voted for the QEH, an additional $48.75 million has been allocated to the management of the COVID-19 QEH programme so far. This was partly in consideration of the projected shortfalls in the health levy up to the end of next month.
    Latest supplementary
    About $3 million of the latest supplementary resolution passed by Parliament was to provide additional kits and reagents for COVID-19 tests.
    A further $8.73 million is being spent on the following areas:
    • To procure additional vaccines not covered
    under the COVAX facilities, accessories and supplies for the roll-out of the national COVID-19 Vaccine Programme and other attendant supplies.
    • To purchase liability and personal accident
    insurance coverage for the University of the West Indies (UWI) students and volunteers working under Operation Seek And Save.
    • The servicing of the generator along with the
    servicing and replacement parts for the evaporator and condenser of the vaccine cooler as well as the six months’ follow-up service for all equipment mentioned.
    • The payment of stipend to UWI students and
    volunteers/retired medical personnel assigned to the vaccine team; for persons contracted mainly for assignment to the Vaccine Programme, COVID-19 Communications Unit and the Quarantine Engagement Unit.
    Explaining why the additional funds were needed, Straughn told the House of Assembly: “The reality is . . . we would rather be spending this money in other areas of Government to be able to get through this particular period of time.
    “And that is why it’s important that whilst we are prepared as a Government to give the resources to the Ministry of Health to manage this pandemic . . . . It is absolutely important that each of us follows the protocols such that we don’t have to be spending monies in this way to be able to manage the outbreak of the pandemic.”
    In addition to the health-related side of the pandemic, Government is also providing previously unscheduled funding to more state-owned enterprises.
    This included $24.5 million for the Transport Board’s operational costs and “to bring to account funds provided for the purchase of electric buses”; more than $7 million for the Barbados Agricultural Management Company to undertake the 2021 sugar cane harvest; $7 million to cover the cost of relocating Rock Hall, St Philip squatters; and $7 million for the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Maintenance to cover the payment of rents up to March 31.

    Source: Nation

  15. A question for Opposition Leader Joe Atherley – you have just come to the realization Barbados needed to reduce its reliance on tourism?

    Atherley: Austerity coming
    For the second time in as many weeks, Barbadians are being warned of impending severe austerity in light of the recent Central Bank of Barbados report, which revealed a near 18 per cent contraction of this country’s economy last year.
    Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley has sounded the alarm, noting that the Barbadian economy lost $1.4 billion of economic activity last year primarily due to the main economic sector, tourism, contracting by 71 per cent. He said the reduction in gross domestic product (GDP) was equivalent to every Barbadian losing BDS$5 000 last year.
    He further argued that as of December 2020, in terms of the total amount of credit outstanding with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), per person for each country’s population that has borrowed from the IMF, Barbados is currently in the top position out of 93 nations.
    “Essentially, the Government will in the future have to meet this stipulated requirement by either an increase in taxes or a cutback in governmental spending or a combination of both. In other words, the road ahead will not be an easy one, especially in light of the fact that the island could easily find itself making repayments on its borrowed IMF funds up until February 1, 2036, according to the IMF Projected Payments plan as of December 31, 2020,” Atherley said.
    He added: “Unfortunately for Barbados, which still has not yet recovered from the economic crisis of 2008, this second significant economic crisis has now, as at the end of December 2020, seen the island record its largest ever drop in its economy since the 1960s. The previous largest decline was in 1992; however, the decline for 2020 is three times [as bad].”
    Last week, head of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), Dr Don Marshall, predicted that by as early as April, Barbadians could be staring down the barrel of unprecedented austerity, which would include cuts to the public sector wage bill.
    The Opposition Leader argued that the root cause of the problem was the island’s overreliance on the tourism industry. He said that was evidenced by the fact that receipts from tourism, for 2020 amounted to just over $1.1 billion, an amount that was less than half that which was taken in during 2019. Of even greater significance is the fact that the tourism inflows for 2020 are at levels not seen by the island since 1993, he said.
    “The Barbadian economy at present is primarily being financed by external borrowing. Financing from IMF, IADB, CDB and CAF in 2020 totalled BBD$1.065 billion (15 per cent of GDP). The country’s debt to GDP ratio has increased to 144 per cent. This presents a sobering reality as the current IMF Extended Fund Facility agreement stipulates Government is set to return to fiscal prudence in the medium term. However, with global tourism in flux and Barbados’ share of global tourism arrivals on the decline before the pandemic, the urgency which exists to find new areas of economic activity to offset the nation’s growing debt is palpable,” he said.
    Atherley said investments in renewable energy and digital technology, were among areas towards which Government needed to steer the economy, with the hope of kick-starting the diversification process. (CLM)

    Source: Nation

  16. Private sector head says tourism projects unlikely in 2021


    By Colville Mounsey colvillemounsey
    It would be wishful thinking to expect many of the major tourism-based projects to take place this year, says head of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), Edward Clarke.
    In an interview with the Weekend Nation, Clarke said that based on the feedback he has been getting from investors, there is great hesitancy, due to the precipitous fall in tourism, to proceed with these initiatives.
    “I don’t think we are going to see a lot of these projects in 2021, certainly not in the first nine months of the year.
    The reality is that people are being cautious and we can understand why. Hotel tourism investment-type projects will happen in the future, but a lot depends on how the global pandemic plays out.
    “Let’s face it: these investors are not dependent on the Barbados spend; rather it is the international tourism market that determines the return on the investment. So, I don’t think you are going to see a rush to start at this time in Barbados. In fact, I would be very surprised if that happens, based on what I have been hearing and seeing from the investors who have been talking about their projects,” said Clarke.
    The proposed $40 million Hotel Indigo project that in 2019 was announced for the site of the old Caribbee Hotel in Hastings, Christ Church, has not progressed and having previously been announced as sold, the property is once again on sale for about $11 million.
    There has been little in terms of construction, outside erection of a parameter fence at the Bay Street site of the much-anticipated Hyatt Ziva, which was first envisioned in 2016 and estimated to cost close to $200 million. There were also several other major projects set to start over the last year, but there is no word as to when they will begin.
    Clarke chalks this up to the uncertainty of the times, arguing that it would be unreasonable to expect more than the wait-and-see approach from investors, even though many of them had committed to the projects before the health crisis.
    ‘Great uncertainty’ “This is a time of great uncertainty, and there are many of us who would have liked to see the capital works projects and private projects to push ahead. One has to understand that the financiers backing those major projects are not willing to take risks at this time.
    Even the larger financial institutions that are willing to lend for projects based in Barbados are cautious.
    The reality is that we just don’t know what is going to happen as a country in 2021. No financier wants to put their equity at risk, and shareholders are likely questioning whether they need to do the project this year as opposed to next year,” he said.
    However, the BPSA head said the outlook was not all grim, as there were likely to be a number of investments coming on stream for renewable energy and medicinal cannabis.
    “What you would certainly see is a lot of renewable energy projects as well as cannabis-type investments, agriculture and those types of initiatives.
    These renewable energy projects will have some effect because they are certainly capital-intensive. However, they are not very labourintensive. So, while there will be a high spend, it is not going to result in high impact on the employment numbers.
    “It would be good for the country in terms of foreign exchange, but we really need to generate wider employment, and that is our biggest challenge as a country,” he said.

    Source: Nation

  17. David
    Please forgive Atherley. He was always an a-hole.

    Unfortunately though, his type constitutes the vast majority of Bajans.

    The only question remaining is how Caswell could for so long operate under such an idiot.

  18. Crusoe
    Permit us to know better.

    Certainly, we cannot be schooled by your unsophisticated understanding about matters pertaining to international finance, trade, mechanisms and certainly not the relative sovereignty of nations.

  19. Events’ that can derail a govt’s plans
    By Ezra Alleyne
    The onset and impact of the coronavirus on global financial policy sent me thinking back to my earliest contact with deeper understandings of the office of Westminster-type prime ministers.
    The first to attract my attention was Harold Macmillan, the British prime minister from 1957 to 1963. I had arrived in England in March 1962 having left Barbados three months after Errol Barrow had become Premier, and not Prime Minister. He was not yet an appropriate study of the highest office.
    Macmillan had been doing such a good job after Anthony Eden was forced to resign in 1957 after the Suez Canal fiasco that Macmillan in 1958 he told the British people they “had never had it so good”.
    He never defined what “it” was, but neither did our own Sir James Cameron Tudor when he asked: “How long is too long if “it” is “good” during a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) campaign.
    Now, here is Macmillan’s relevance to current developments. In the early 1960s, responding to a reporter’s question about what he most feared could blow his government off course, Macmillan is reported to have said: “Events, dear boy, events.”
    Macmillan was referring to the unpredictability of politics and how events can suddenly appear on the political horizon and knock any government completely off course. Ironically, later he had to resign because of sudden “events” too.
    COVID-19 is precisely the kind of event envisaged by Macmillan’s famous statement.
    Set up for take-off
    Our economy had been set up for take-off and then . . . the coronavirus came.
    There are, of course, other “events, dear boy, events”, especially of a local flavour to which we can refer. For example, Barrow’s 1971 to 1976 DLP administration was knocked off its course by the sudden imposition of higher prices for oil by the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries.
    Suddenly, more foreign exchange had to be found to pay for the oil and Prime Minister Barrow’s carefully crafted Budget went through the window, just so.
    The constitutional amendment introduced by Barrow in mid-1974 was another event, this time self-inflicted. These “two events” together threw the Government so completely off course that they led directly to Barrow losing the 1976 General Election.
    The Tom Adams administration skilfully managed the events of the Cuban crash on the very day of the first sitting of the 1976 to 1981 Parliament. The later Sydney Burnett-Alleyne-led mercenary-supported attempted armed invasion of this country was another event. That event, too, was deftly dealt with.
    Some of the mercenaries, one might recall, had stealthily entered the island, before the “coup” was uncovered.
    The Barbados Regiment was upgraded to the Defence Force, and the rest is history.
    The Mighty Gabby wrote Boots and Cadavers to immortalise these events that were of the kind Macmillan envisaged.
    Sudden death
    Adams’ sudden death in March 1985 was a Macmillan-type event that threw the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government completely off course and Dr Richie Haynes’ so-called “alternative” Budget to Prime Minister Bernard St John’s in 1986 sealed the deal. The Dems were back in power.
    A year off the 1986 General Election, Tom was preparing for an Estimates meeting when he collapsed. Earlier in that year, Adams had declared that he was going to “pull out all stops, including some stops that are not normally regarded as stops” to win the 1986 election. That Front Page story “shook up” some of his opponents. But “events, dear boy, events” took over.
    The Erskine Sandiford administration which followed Barrow’s death in 1987 had at least two “events”. One was brilliantly handled. The other was disastrously managed, proving that managing the event so that it does not become a crisis is key.
    The Sandiford Government’s need for foreign exchange in December 1990 was a major problem. With an election due in 1991, Sir Lloyd acted quickly. He arranged a loan, albeit an expensive one, in London.
    He flew to London, signed on the dotted line, sealed the deal and as soon as Christmas was gone, called the election in January 1991. He won a hard-fought campaign and then advised the country that we had to go to the International Monetary Fund. Ten points . . . . Superior and brilliant “political” management.
    But the appointment at the Tourist Board in 1993 was not his finest hour. The resignation of three ministers in the run-up to that appointment was compounded by his May 18, 1994 “diametrically opposed” broadcast which offended some of his key parliamentary colleagues.
    Suddenly, a problem ripened into a self-inflicted crisis.
    The late Owen Arthur, who had been Leader of the Opposition for just nine months, pounced like a cat on a hot tin roof, and with the “no-confidence” motion crafted, the Erskine Sandiford Government was knocked off course and the DLP was consigned to the Opposition for 14 years.
    It is generally accepted in political circles that the universal key to “events, dear boy, events” is managing such events well when they raise their heads above the proverbial parapet.
    The COVID-19 event presents the supreme test of political risk management.
    The virus problem tolerates only the tiniest margin of error in containing the problem from developing into a crisis. Ah . . . the vagaries of politics!
    Ezra Alleyne is an attorney and a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.

    Source: Nation

  20. David

    He already had high brand equity with us, and you.

    We understand that his workers’ union is growing, and that is good.

    But could this be enough to fully explain such a stark contradiction, operating under a man whose sole claim to “infamy” was running to the GG first?

    • @Pacha

      He has moved it higher. Seriously, Caswell has used the Upper House to be a real dissenting voice which is needed in the prevailing.

  21. Pacha,

    Utter rubbish. You are so caught up in your own pseudo-intellectual dogma that you fail to grasp basic realities, preferring to point the finger at ‘grand imperialists’.

    Another extremist nutcase.

  22. A thought experiment for you. Imagine in the current, worldwide, social/economic/pandemic crisis how much money countries could save (and therefore, in our own case, avoid having to be continually begging the IMF for more and more loans) if there were a treatment protocol using a couple of safe, readily available, medications and a mineral supplement (zinc) that could dispatch the Covid-19 bug in short order with a knock out punch, if only doctor’s were allowed to use the protocol to treat suspected Covid-19 cases in the early stages of the disease.

    NY Doctor Proved Everyone Wrong About Hydroxychloroquine
    By Dr. Mercla,

    June 30, 2020, Zelenko and two co-authors published a study, [6] showing that treating COVID-19 patients who had confirmed positive test results “as early as possible after symptom onset” with zinc, low dose HCQ and azithromycin reduced odds of hospitalization by 84% and all-cause death by 500% compared to no treatment at all.

    Crazy enough, even though Zelenko went to great lengths to share his clinical findings with the White House and the National Institutes of Health, he received no support and was told they had no use for it.

    “What’s happened over the last 20 years is that the academic elite and pharmaceutical industry have bred a monopoly on medical truth,” he says.

    “They feel only data generated through randomized control trials, pharmaceutical sponsored trials, or those that are coming out of major academic institutions are to be viewed as truth. Anything coming from a frontline country doctor must be anecdotal.

    That’s the crime here. And they created artificial barriers that prevented the flow of common sense and lifesaving information. You know which countries did take it seriously? See, this is a disease of affluence because the rich countries could afford the waste of money. The poor countries like Honduras … they had no options.

    They couldn’t afford respirators. They didn’t have enough hospital capacity. So, they gravitated towards the cheap generic approaches. And those are the ones that have the best outcomes.”


  23. “the root cause of the problem was the island’s overreliance on the tourism industry. ”

    how many years have I AND OTHERS….have been telling them this was going to happen..

    IMF told them..
    All credit agencies that they OWE AND CANT PAY told them..
    ALL the credit rating agencies that they took TAXPAYER’S MONEY and PAID for advice TOLD THEM….it was not what dumbass Fruendel wanted to hear so he cussed the people..

    let them suck salt…THE BLACK POPULATION need to move away from them..pool resources, help each other….and leave them WITH THE MASSIVE DEBT…..IT’S THEIRS……ALONG WITH ALL THE BILLIONS THEY STOLE AND NOW HAVE TO REPAY…

  24. The ignorant negros in parliament preferred to listen to the tiefing social partnerships parasites…let them eat each other…..instead.

  25. “Live better, not chasing the dollar.”

    you need to tell that to the minority parasites living off Black people…and add….NOT TIEFING THE DOLLAR..

  26. @ Crusoe February 7, 2021 4:33 AM
    “Not rocket science. I guess many of the oension funds of insurance companies worldwide will be lush in funds now, with the death of many aged due to Covid. Sorry to be crass, but that is true.”

    You might just be looking at just one side (outflows) of the pensions cash-flow equation.

    Don’t you think that the reduction in payouts to settle contracted pension liabilities due to the Covid-related deaths could also be cancelled out by the reduction in investment incomes needed to meet the ongoing pension contracts?

    Wouldn’t the same Covid effect be impacting heavily on the investment climate and economic activity required to keep the tap running to generate cash inflows to the pensions pot including reduced contributions arising from significant job losses?

    We can foresee a significant impact on the pensions business (both private and State-sponsored) where contributions to pension schemes would have to rise appreciably in order to keep the PAYG ship afloat if the pensions market is not to be returned to the pre-1980’s status.

    Remember the once well topped-up pension jam pot is now faced with the challenge of feeding the baby boomers of the 1950’s and 60’s who are expecting to ‘outlive their ancestors’ especially in Barbados where citizens show a spoilt entitlement and expectation to a relatively high standard of living from cradle to grave.

  27. The issue has been with the NIS for years due to over generous pension entitlements mainly with goverment workers and the need to only work 33 years to qualify for a full pension.

    What is however going to suck the cash from the fund going forward is the high level of unemployment especially in the tourism sector. People that are not working can not contribute to the fund its that simple.

    So what is the solution? Well they can increase the monthly deductions to say 35% between employer and employee and in so doing penalise those who have a job,or push the pension age to 70 and hope for the best.

    That is why i have been harping on for months that we need to urgently discuss the diversification of our economy. All I have seen over the last 11 months though is the same dependancy on tourism as our saviour being preached by those in power.

  28. @ John A

    How about a mobile group defined contribution fund, from age 16 to retirement, with a state retirement age of 67/8?

  29. @ Hal

    That could work too but personally I would prefer to see us go a route like the 401K road and I will tell you why.

    When I pay into the NIS for years and get my first pension cheque at 67 then die at 70, all the capital I have contributed stays with the state. My wife might get a survivor benefit for a few years and that’s it.

    With the 401k road I own my capital in the fund. I can sell some if I need cash or I can leave it to grow. The point is it is my money both dead and alive. The current system is a dinasour still roaming the land in 2021.

  30. @ John A

    I proposed a mobile group defined contribution scheme, not the NIS. It is in place of he NIS. The 401(K) is too risky.

  31. @ John A February 7, 2021 11:39 AM

    Given the disastrous economic data, it is now obvious to all that Barrow’s plan to lead Barbados to independence was the act of an intellectually mediocre leader of a Third World country. Luckily, our present Supreme Leader thinks quite differently because she is intellectually far superior to Barrow. She knows that Barbados, as a micro-state with a single source of income, can only survive in global networks.

    We must therefore submit unconditionally to international financial capitalism if we want more foreign investment. Retirement at 70 is only the beginning for serious reforms here. We need a massive reduction in pensions for civil servants and the abolition of at least 50 per cent of social transfer payments and the flexibilisation and de-bureaucratisation of business rules (e.g. for business start-ups). We also need to end the unfortunate link between trade unions and political parties that has seriously damaged the country and given it a reputation as a wasteland for investments.

    By the way, I would like to refer to my STARVE plan from March 2020. I remember only too well that our blogmaster initially wanted to censor this fundamental contribution to crisis management. Fortunately, as a patriot, he did not do so. This shows once again that David, like me, is an impartial referee. Indeed, the outcry from the masses on BU – pampered by the welfare state – was tremendous. In hindsight, however, even our nationalist-socialist commentators have to acknowledge that we can no longer maintain the status quo in lazing around at the expense of private enterprise.

  32. Addendum: What happened to our COVID19 council including Big Sinck?

    Any bet that the internally produced proposals were the usual recipe: Even more bureaucracy, even more taxation, even more bullying of private business and even more social welfare for the masses accustomed to social transfers.

    Barbados will remain economically backward as long as the masses are under the socialist delusion that all that is needed is to redistribute poverty on the plantation called Barbados and to keep incurring new debts at the expense of the hard-working foreign investors.

    Our government has all the power in the world thanks to its majority and thanks to the emergency laws. Time to use this power in a dictatorial manner and free Barbados from the grip of state socialism, following the example of Chile.

  33. “The issue has been with the NIS for years due to over generous pension entitlements mainly with government workers and the need to only work 33 years to qualify for a full pension.”

    @ John A

    You are misrepresenting the facts.

  34. @ Artax

    I disagree if you have say 60% of the working population having in the past to work to 65 and 40% being goverment workers being able to retire at 55, one must expect problems when both are contributing at the same rates to the fund.

  35. @ John A

    My position is that the NIS is so badly designed and managed that we start from scratch, thus the proposal. A totally new retirement plan, which will not take long to organise will propel us in to modern finance.

  36. @ Cynthia,
    “What is the unemployment rate in Barbados?”

    The official or the unofficial number? Keeping tabs on numbers is not one of our strengths.

  37. A

    The NIS is similar to Social Security her

    If you want a 401k there then I suggest put some funds in the credit union

  38. John2

    I just don’t like other people handling my retirement money especially if the past is going to be an example of the future. Right now no one knows the net asset value of the NIS fund based on market value of the assets. For all we know it could be insolvent in real terms.

  39. @ Hal

    I hear you but where the money will come from to float a new plan? What tangible assets does the NIS have that can even be sold at the price on their books to try and liquidate the fund? Who going buy all Sinkyuh worthless paper?

  40. @ John A

    Let us start from the beginning. Does the state pension scheme need reform? If so, let us set about reforming it. The funding will be part of that discussion. That is why a defined contribution scheme, managed collectively and mobile from age 16 to retirement.
    Such a scheme will underpin financialisation of the nation and drag us in to the 21st century.

  41. Listen soon to hear PM used this proposal from the IMf to reinforce that barbados has an aging population and it would be necessary for govt to implement an immigration policy which attracts easier access more immigrants to live and work on the island
    Remember PM has already sounded that bell
    However if only for govt to ascertain and rebuild a dying NIS system from these newbies
    The writing is on the wall

  42. @ Hal

    Yes we all agree it is in a sad state of audit farless reform. But what you are suggesting will call for serious money and right now we brek! If we say we will liquidate the NIS and start fresh, the right off on the NIS worthless investments in paper alone would be over $1 billion and we have not even touched their overpriced cost overrun real estate holdings yet!

  43. John A February 7, 2021 3:20 PM #: “When done it is still a debt service expense don’t matter if it come out the left or right pocket.”

    @ John A

    Remember, you’re the person who raised public sector pensions as being a problem to the NIS.

  44. @ John A

    I am not talking about the audit. I am saying the entire NIS scheme is irrelevant for a modern age, even it was was managed by the best managers.
    It is nonsense. It needs replacing, and no there will be no ‘serious’ money apart from contributions (scheme member and employer, state contributions will be fiscal, no cash). It will be a defined contribution scheme.
    What will be different will be the fund management – asset allocation and stock picking. Research will be independent and professional and no political interference. Have a look at the 1981 Chilean scheme and modernise it.
    There are any number of schemes: the Kiwisaver, the Australian superannuation, the UK auto-enrolment or stakeholder, etc. Look at the Norwegian oil fund, or Singapore’s Central Provident Fund.
    Such reforms should be at the heart of our post-CoVid economic plans.

  45. Nothing would be liqudated
    Mia plan is already put in place to increase and expand economic activity by way of more immigrants

  46. Look at govt haste to buy more buses although the ones recently bought has not been able to be fully occupied by the locals

  47. To be honest with you, Tron’s trash talk about a wooden house under a palm tree is what I think of when I think of an ideallic life. Island life in true style is to me much sweeter than New York style. Ernie Smith’s Life is just for Living is my escape song.

    This is what I mean when I speak of appreciating our own culture. Cuhdear Bajan’s dress code. Mauby, rum, coconut water.

    When did we start our New York impossible dream turned nightmare?

    Whatever happened to the simple life?

  48. @ Donna February 7, 2021 4:26 PM

    Exactly. I did not mean the passage with the wooden house in any way demeaning …

    No more copying of USA and UK. If we drink the water from the tap filtered by the refrigerator, buy local food, buy local furniture, drive only small cars (preferably electrified), no longer wear long pants and suits, but align everything with the tropical climate and local conditions, we save a lot of foreign currency and thus a lot of trouble.

    Let us be ourselves. Our paradise must look like Elysium, not like the North. The real luxury is living in Barbados at all.

  49. @ Tron

    I know people who sold massive homes in the UK and have never been happier in what we call wood houses down the islands like Grenada, st Lucia etc

    Sadly we don’t build nothing so here for them we do pigeon hole condos instead.

  50. “There has never been a better time for the Black/African to disassociate ourselves entirely and completely from the colonial slave system.” Copyright ⓒ 2021

    only comfortable slaves will continue to accept thefts, racism and multiple other crimes being practiced against themselves.

  51. Tron,

    Thanks for the correction. You are not always easy to read.

    But you give me hope! I thought I was mad for dreaming about it. I can see it so clearly. Us being OUR BEAUTIFUL SELVES!

    With your splendid writing style I am sure you could paint the picture for others. Why don’t you try to reach more than just us oldsters on BU?

  52. Do the hotels benefiting from the $300m government handout all have business interruption insurance? If so, are they claiming on their insurance policies while still accepting the handout from government. Is this fraud?

  53. Werner: More IMF funding on table
    THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) is willing to provide more funding to Barbados as Government battles through a recession triggered by the collapse of tourism.
    Alejandro Werner, director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department, said such assistance was on the table as he cautioned that Barbados’ diversification away from tourism, while possible, would be “extremely complex to achieve”.
    The economist was responding to questions from the DAILY NATION on Monday during a press conference where he presented the Regional Economic Outlook Update for Latin America & the Caribbean.
    With COVID-19 still raging in the region and globally, Werner said it was important for Barbados and other Caribbean countries “to continue to provide support to those families that
    have been severely affected from the lack of work in the Caribbean due to the closure of many hotels, the very low rate of operation of the tourism sector, et cetera”.
    “For that it will be important to establish medium-term programmes that basically would guarantee medium-term fiscal sustainability, but that will allow short-term stimulus to be implemented,” he recommended.
    “And I think that’s the key; the more that you can guarantee that in the medium-term your financial situation will be sustainable, the more space you will have today to act in a more aggressive way to support the population. I think that’s something in which some countries in the Caribbean have been moving faster and obviously that throughout 2021 we will see maybe more countries opening up fiscal space in this way,” he said. (SC)

  54. Watch how quickly those arab dudes are going to diversify from both oil and tourism, while the fools that we know will be still clinging to the fake tourism brand in Barbados and the Caribbean, while those who are masters at things important to them will get free oil from Guyana…….😂😂😂🤣🤣

    “The end of a golden age for oil producers
    The search for other types of revenue will accelerate

    Nov 17th 2020


    FOR DECADES Arab oil producers have been caught in a quandary. When prices fall, they pledge to wean their economies off the black stuff. But low prices mean they cannot afford costly reforms. Then output falls, demand climbs and prices begin their inevitable rebound. Treasuries are once again flush, and the pressure to reform disappears.

    Privately, some officials now wonder if this cycle is over, making the needed reforms unavoidable. The drop in demand caused by covid-19 sent Brent crude as low as $21 a barrel in 2020. Prices will recover a bit in 2021, perhaps crossing the $50 mark. They will not go much higher, though. Most oil states in the Middle East will still be unable to balance their budgets.”

  55. Black people who are conscious better open their eyes much wider.

    i understand employers are threatening their employees if they don’t take the vaccine they’ll have no jobs…which is fine, stop working for these parasites on the island, it gives them and the black face sellouts leverage over your lives….let then try bringing in workers from the other islands and treat them like slaves again and get EXPOSED AGAIN…

  56. More loans, more begging, more bogus economics. This time it is CoVid to blame.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a further $188 million to help Barbados meet the economic challenges brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
    After completing its fourth review under its Extended Fund Facility (EFF) ending December 31, 2020 for the overarching, home-grown Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme, the IMF sanctioned the additional disbursement.
    In its assessment of that same period, the BERT Monitoring Committee also stated in its just-released progress report that this money includes an augmentation of the EFF by an additional $138 million “to address the continuing challenges the Barbados economy face owing to the global coronavirus pandemic.”
    “Concurrent with its review, the IMF executive board agreed with the GOB’s [Government of Barbados] requests for the further modification of performance criteria allowing for a reduced primary surplus target of minus 1 per cent of GDP for fiscal year 2020/21 – down from a positive 1 per cent revised target agreed at the time of the third review,” the BERT Monitoring Committee said.
    According to the group, this change is in recognition of significant revenue losses and the need to support spending on public health and social protection in response to the pandemic.
    “In addition, four new structural benchmarks were introduced, and the due dates for three others were reset due to the impacts of the pandemic on progress,” the committee added.
    This report coincides with the ninth set of targets under the EFF on which the BERT committee has commented.
    “During the period, the IMF executive board completed its fourth review under the EFF agreeing that all performance criteria had been met, all structural benchmarks had been completed,” the local monitors announced.
    For example, the report revealed that the government achieved its performance criteria for all of its fiscal targets including exceeding its minimum goal of $33 million on the primary balance.
    The actual balance reached was $243 million.
    The Government had also met its goal of not accumulating any external debt arrears as well as not making more than $338 million in transfers and grants to public institutions. It actually made transfers and grants of only $297 million.
    According to the monitoring committee, the ceiling on public debt also ended up some $330 million within the target set.
    The maximum debt which the Mia Mottley administration had established it did not want to exceed was $13.1 billion. It accumulated debt of $12.8 billion.
    With reference to the monetary targets, the BERT monitors disclosed that the administration had established a target of just over $1 billion for the country’s international reserves; instead, it accumulated $2.1 billion.
    The committee also assessed the primary balance which represents total revenues and grants less all expenditure, but excluding interest.
    “While overall revenue collection fell short of the target under the BERT plan, expenditure was sufficiently contained allowing the adjusted primary balance minimum target of $33 million to be achieved,” the report declared.
    Regarding government’s revenue collection, the monitoring team noted that total revenue for the first three quarters ended December 31, 2020 was $1,873 million, representing a decrease of $265 million on the total of $2,138 million collected in the same period in the prior year. The report said that tax revenue was $1,796 million versus $2,014 million in the prior year, a decline of 10.8 per cent.
    The team also noted that the primary contributors to the shortfall in revenue versus the prior year included $118 million from income tax due to the significant lay-offs arising from the pandemic and two reductions in the personal tax rates that became effective in July 2019 and January 2020. The committee also pointed to the $26 million related to land tax due to a delay in the invoicing compared to the previous year and the $309 million on various indirect taxes including VAT, excise tax, import duties, fuel taxes and tourism levies because of reduced economic activity due to the pandemic.
    The BERT committee said that total spending in the first three quarters of the fiscal year was $1,909 million, which was $92 million or 5.1 per cent higher than the $1,817 million in the prior year.
    “The majority of the additional expenditure ($89 million) related to interest now that the restructured debt is being serviced again. Twenty-five million dollars of the increase was on grants to public institutions and a further $22 million on capital expenditure primarily in the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources on infrastructure upgrades and in the Ministry of Health and Wellness related to COVID-19 management,” declared the committee.
    “These increases were partly offset by reductions in spending on goods and services which has so far been $35 million lower than the prior year. It should be noted that the additional interest expense has no impact on the primary balance,” it contended……(Quote)

  57. Where there is no vision the people suffer
    Yet the media dare not ask relevant questions about these massive loans

  58. @ Angela

    Not only the media, the academics and politicians do not know what relevant questions to ask. We are in a mess as a nation.
    A loan to get out out of the CoVid doo-doo, yet the so-called economic task force appointed last year has not yet reported in public.
    We know the president has not been as transparent or honest with us as she claims, since they must have put a convincing case to the IMF. What was that case?
    She is a political chameleon.

  59. @TLSN

    I know. I live in hope that the quality of the public discussion will move from personal abuse to a serious one about ideas.
    The good thing about Barbados is that black or white, the talent pool is very limited.

  60. Who are the lenders at this rate? The base rate in most developed nations is running at about 0.5-1 per cent. So, Barbados appears to be getting loans at base rate? This for a nation that defaulted on its debt less than three years ago.
    If it is borrowing from regional banks, even Breton Woods organisations, does this mean they are paying Barbados to borrow their money?
    This needs further explanation. Two further questions. First, what about White Oaks? Has the debt restructuring been FINALLY settled?
    Also, why does an adviser have to explain government economic policy? Where is the elected minister?

    Government has been borrowing at a dramatically low-interest rate of just one per cent, the senior economic advisor to the Mia Mottley administration, Kevin Greenidge, has disclosed.
    Greenidge, a Barbados-born International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist who has been seconded to Government in its Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme, did not say if the very low-interest rate was across the board.
    But he explained that given the island’s unusually high debt in recent years, it was only able to borrow at interest rates above 10 per cent prior to the BERT programme, which was implemented in October 2018.
    Greenidge made the comments during an interview with the CBC’s Lisa Lorde on the island’s ability to grow foreign exchange levels from an all-time low of just under $420 million or about six weeks of import cover in 2018 to a “healthy” $2.66 billion by the end of last year.
    “People will say, ‘that is borrowing’. Of course, it is borrowed, but you borrowed at one per cent in order to do what you need to do. Every developing country must borrow,” said Greenidge, adding that as a result of the borrowing, a number of infrastructure upgrades and investments were taking place.
    “So it is important, the interest rate. Prior to the BERT programme, because the debt was unsustainable, people were only willing to lend at astronomical rates like 12 and 13 and 14 per cent, but now it is one per cent,” said Greenidge.
    He added: “Because of that we have been able to fix the fiscal, fix the debt and you have the adequate reserves and then you start to deal with the impediments to growth.”
    Last year, Government borrowed $968 million in policy-based loans from four institutions including the IMF.
    Highlighting Government’s digitalisation programme and Customs’ new ASYCUDA system, which is central to Government’s revenue collection, as examples of development from borrowed funds, he said it was necessary to continue to improve the business environment so that the private sector could lead the required economic growth.
    “Government don’t get growth, Government creates a conducive environment for the private sector to invest and the economy to grow,” Greenidge declared. “Government has to use its powers to remove the things that would stop growth.”
    The economic advisor also pointed to the need for diversification of the Barbados economy away from tourism.
    “Whether in a crisis or not in a crisis we should always be looking to broaden the economic base,” he said, as he highlighted agriculture as a critical area on which to focus in coming years.
    “The focus on agriculture is not because it is a foreign exchange earner, it is because of food security – if anything happens you got to be able to feed yourself.
    “So I am not saying we should be thinking about abandoning tourism, but think about widening the base into other areas – agriculture, other manufacturing like moving the value chain from bulk sugar to direct consumption; moving into other energy sources and production like solar panels – and even within tourism, diversify the way we do things.”
    Greenidge also took the opportunity to insist that the IMF was not in the business of telling countries what to do but would simply put forward the available options.
    And asked if devaluation of the Barbados dollar, which is pegged to the US currency at $2 to US$1, was ever an option, Greenidge said Government took the decision “to protect the exchange rate and focus the bulk of the reform on fixing the fiscal, fixing the local economy and remaining committed to that process”.
    He said: “The IMF has a duty to advise countries on all the options they have so they will say [if] devaluation is an option,” he added. He said that in some cases countries would have no choice but to devalue because of not having adequate foreign exchange reserves to protect their exchange rate.
    “The key is to develop policies that help you to earn foreign exchange while people are investing and you are earning.”…..(Quote)

  61. Mr Williams reporting in

    Is this a criticism, a compliment or a question all nice into one …
    “We know the president has not been as transparent or honest with us as she claims, since they must have put a convincing case to the IMF. What was that case?”

    Criticism: “We know the president has not been as transparent or honest with us as she claims,”

    Compliment: “since they must have put a convincing case to the IMF.”

    Question: “What was that case?’

  62. It has also been fun to see AC talking out of the four sides of her mouth. When pinned to the mat, she somehow manages to throw a red herring into the ring.

  63. I have never endorse govt going to IMF with cup in hand for a 1 percent loan
    I know the price the people have to pay in govt securing the loan from the IMF is much heavier on the shoulders of the people than the 1 percent govt received in having the IMF service the loan

    David so i am a liar
    Why because i dare call out Mia dismal leadership

  64. Now another Bretton Woods organisation has called out the Barbados social security system. It is chaotic, not fit for purpose, and out world class policy-makers do not have a clue what to do.

    WITH public sector pensions in Barbados deemed the highest among Caribbean countries, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is calling for action to lower the costs of such payouts.
    And it is warning that unless something is done, the country can face real challenges going forward in this area of Government expenditure, and to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
    Laura Giles Alvarez and Ariel McCaskie highlighted the views of the IDB in its latest Caribbean Quarterly Bulletin dated December 2020.
    The position by the IDB comes as uncertainty surfaces among Barbadians fearful as to what the Government of Barbados will do with the pensions. It appears a commitment has been given to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to make the adjustments.
    However, two weekends ago, Government’s Senior Economic Adviser, Dr. Kevin Greenidge, was quoted in the media as suggesting no dictate to reform public officers’ pensions has come from the IMF, and that reforms are unlikely.
    “Rising costs going forward could be a challenge, particularly given the impact of debt restructuring and the pressure of COVID-19 on the National Insurance Scheme,” said the IDB officials, who prepared the Barbados report in the bulletin.
    “Policymakers should also periodically review the design of multi-pillar systems and assess … what changes in the pension scheme are required to achieve adequate benefits, expanded coverage, and financial sustainability of the system,” they recommended.
    They said that Barbados has the highest pension expenses among Caribbean countries.
    “The disbursement of pension expenses for civil servants as a share of total expenses is also the largest in the Caribbean at 32.2 per cent,” said the IDB officials.
    In addition, it was pointed out that in 2019, Barbados had the highest level of public pension spending among Caribbean countries, reaching 7.7 per cent of GDP, followed by Trinidad and Tobago with 5.59 per cent, Guyana 5.28 per cent, and Suriname 4.05 per cent.
    For the current financial year which ends March 31, 2021, pensions and other benefits are expected to reach $297.8 million, according to the Draft Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
    Forward projections by the same Estimates were put at $335.7 million for the forthcoming financial year, staring April 1, and $369.3 million for the following year….(Quote)

  65. If long-term interest rates look likely to rise, and Dr Greenidge has told us that Barbados is securing loans at one per cent, then why not lock in all our debt at one per cent?

        Jay Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, has told Congress there was “hope for a return to more normal conditions” this year but signalled that the central bank intended to maintain its heavy support of the economy.

    His comments pointed to no early Fed tightening of monetary policy or drawdown of asset purchases even with a brighter economic outlook — and initially helped contain a second straight day of losses for shares of fast growing technology shares.
    Lofty valuations on tech companies have been supported by rock-bottom interest rates from the Fed and other central banks. But as economic momentum has gathered in the US, real interest rates have climbed, triggering unease in parts of the US equity market. The Nasdaq Composite was 2.2 per cent lower at 1pm in New York, while the benchmark S&P 500 was down 0.8 per cent.
    Speaking to the Senate banking committee, Powell offered one of his more optimistic assessments of economic conditions since the start of the pandemic, but stressed that there were still big downside risks to the recovery that justified the Fed’s ultra-easy stance.
    “In recent weeks, the number of new cases and hospitalisation has been falling, and ongoing vaccinations offer hope for a return to more normal conditions later this year. However, the economic recovery remains uneven and far from complete, and the path ahead is highly uncertain,” the Fed chair said in his opening remarks.
    “While we should not underestimate the challenges we currently face, developments point to an improved outlook for later this year,” he added. 
    The economy is a long way from our employment and inflation goals, and it is likely to take some time for substantial further progress to be achieved
    The prospect for an improvement in the US Covid-19 situation — combined with new large-scale fiscal stimulus backed by congressional Democrats and US president Joe Biden — has prompted many economists to upgrade their growth forecasts for 2021. 
    Some economists have warned that a burst in economic activity could trigger an unhealthy jump in inflation, which would force the Fed to start tightening its monetary policy sooner and more abruptly than expected.
    However, Fed officials have played down the threat of a spike in prices, saying it was unlikely to be sustained. During the question-and-answer period with the senators, Powell said inflation dynamics did “not change on a dime” and said “there really hasn’t been lately” a strong connection between budget deficits and inflation.
    Powell also pointed to unused capacity in the labour market, with nearly 10m fewer Americans employed compared to a year ago, as one of the most worrying aspects of the US economy.
    The Fed has said it would not raise interest rates from their current level close to zero until it achieved full employment, inflation hit 2 per cent and was “on track” to exceed that target. It also said it would not begin to wind down its bond-buying programme until “substantial further progress” was made towards its objectives. 
    “The economy is a long way from our employment and inflation goals, and it is likely to take some time for substantial further progress to be achieved. We will continue to clearly communicate our assessment of progress toward our goals well in advance of any change in the pace of purchases,” Powell said.

    Yield on the 10-year Treasury note on Tuesday, up from 0.91 per cent at the end of 2020
    During the testimony, Powell was repeatedly pressed by senators on the merits of President Joe Biden’s $1.9tn stimulus plan, but declined to take a position.
    Financial markets have already started to factor in a rosier outlook. A sell-off in US government bonds accelerated sharply last week. The 10-year Treasury note yielded 1.36 per cent on Tuesday, up from 0.91 per cent at the end of last year. Volatility in the Treasury market has risen, underlining the potential for larger swings in the weeks ahead.
    Inflation-adjusted Treasury yields have also spiked, sparking concern among investors that too swift a rise could jolt risky assets and threaten Wall Street’s record stock market run.
    “It really is not the absolute yield [levels] that would be concerning, it is more the speed of the movement,” said Anders Persson, chief investment officer of fixed income at Nuveen, adding that a 0.5 to 0.75 percentage point move higher in 10-year Treasury yields over a short period of time could “spook” investors.
    Eric Stein, chief investment officer of fixed income at Eaton Vance, said the Fed is also likely watching Treasury gyrations closely, especially if it prompts a tightening of financial conditions that disrupts the flow of credit to businesses and consumers.
    “Multiple weeks like [last] week, and the Fed may start to get concerned,” he said.
    On inflation, Powell stressed that lingering low inflation was a bigger economic factor than the possibility of higher inflation.
    “Following large declines in the spring, consumer prices partially rebounded over the rest of last year. However, for some of the sectors that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic, prices remain particularly soft. Overall, on a 12-month basis, inflation remains below our 2 per cent longer-run objective,” the Fed chair said.
    “Well-anchored inflation expectations enhance our ability to meet both our employment and inflation goals, particularly in the current low interest rate environment in which our main policy tool is likely to be more frequently constrained by the lower bound,” he added…..(Quote)

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