World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings: Thursday Wrap-up

By Katie Zhang, University of Melbourne Faculty of Business and Economics Scholar

We started the day early, arriving at the World Bank headquarters by 8:30am for the seminar ‘Towards 2030: Trends, Opportunities, Challenges and Policies and Inclusive Growth’. There, we heard the keynote speech by Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University, who shared insights on major risks and challenges to inclusive growth in developing countries. Next, we watched a panel discussion between James Manyika (Chairman of McKinsey Global Institute), Mthuli Ncube (Professor of Public Policy at Oxford), Carolina Sanchez (a Senior Director at the World Bank) and Gayle Smith (President and CEO of ONE Campaign). Against the gloomy backdrop of Rodrik’s warnings, the panel discussion focused on the opportunities that technology provided in the movement towards inclusive growth. 

Fiscal monitor session at the IMF (Photo: International Monetary Fund) 

Fiscal monitor session at the IMF (Photo: International Monetary Fund) 

Next we met with a member of the legal team for the World Bank Group, Edward Chukwuemeke Okeke (Make for short). There, we heard about the (legal) inner workings of The Bank’s operations, including regaling stories of past cases handled by Meke himself. We also heard about his past experiences working at the UN and UNESCO. Most notably, our meeting with the jovial Meke was filled with informal but very practical advice for working at a place such as the World Bank.

Our meeting with the delightful Meke ended too soon, but we were already on our way to the next event – the flagship CNN Debate. Hosted by the ever frenetic Richard Quest, the all-star panel, including Christine Lagarde (Managing Director of the IMF), Finance Ministers Sri Mulyani Indrawati (Indonesia), Bruno Le Maire (France) and William Morneau (Canada), and Gita Gopinath (Professor in Economics at Harvard University) to keep all the panellists “honest”. The finance ministers expressed an upbeat outlook for their respective economies. While acknowledging challenges, they believed that the best was still yet to come. With many references to “fixing a leaking roof”, Lagarde noted that “it is when the sun is shining [that] you want to fix the roof.”

The afternoon was filled with ‘New Economy Talks’. The first was on ‘Why the Liberal Arts Matter in an Algorithmic World’, presented by Scott Harley, venture capitalist and author of ‘The Fuzzy and the Techie’. Harley spoke of the misleading nature of the division between ‘fuzzies’ and ‘techies’ and how it is actually the fuzzies, not the techies, who are playing the key roles in driving some of the most creative and successful business ventures of the past decades and reinforces why liberal arts are still relevant in the increasingly techie world. Harley was gracious enough to step aside after his talk to spend a couple of minutes to share his knowledge with the delegates and also signed all of our copies of his book. The last event was called ‘Augmented Intelligence: Human + Machine = Amazing Work’. Louis Richardson, Chief Storyteller for IBM Watson, shared some of the capabilities of Watson. He stressed that the role of Watson was not to take over our jobs, but to augment our capabilities – hence ‘augmented intelligence’.