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Axiom Capital Says Volatility Will Be a Difficult Element

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The International Monetary Fund has told its member governments they can create millions of jobs and boost recovery prospects if they use higher public investment to respond to the severe economic challenge posed by Covid-19.



a windmill near the water: Photograph: Rob Arnold/Alamy


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Photograph: Rob Arnold/Alamy

Ahead of its annual meeting this month, the Washington-based fund said historically low interest rates meant it was a good time to borrow for long-term infrastructure projects and said the spending would help tackle rising unemployment.

The IMF said the boost to jobs would be especially strong if governments planned for a green recovery.

Its analysis – contained in a chapter from its forthcoming fiscal monitor – showed that increasing public investment by 1% of national output would create seven million jobs directly and between 20m and 33m jobs via the knock-on effects on the rest of the economy.

Public investment had the potential to generate between two and eight jobs directly for every million dollars spent on traditional infrastructure, and between five and 14 jobs for every million spent on research and development, green electricity and efficient buildings, the IMF said.

The organisation’s fiscal monitor said there was a strong multiplier effect, with each dollar, pound or euro spent by governments in developed and emerging market economies generating a much bigger increase in output.

Related: Without clarity and leadership, there’s plenty to fear for the UK economy | Larry Elliott

“Empirical estimates based on a cross-country data set and a sample of 400,000 firms show that public investment can have a powerful impact on GDP growth and employment during periods of high uncertainty – which is a defining feature of the

Experts say it will probably take years for such activities as air travel to return to normal. Meanwhile, governments will still have to figure out how to shore up aging infrastructure, alleviate traffic congestion, support mass transit and accommodate the flying public.

The Maryland Department of Transportation has proposed slashing nearly $3 billion from its six-year capital budget. The cuts include delaying $900 million in road projects and postponing construction of a $500 million baggage-handling system and terminal connection at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. The state also plans to temporarily scrap some service for commuter buses and MARC commuter trains, which have ridership hovering at about 10 percent of normal.

“Everything has been hit across our system,” Maryland Transportation Secretary Gregory Slater said. “We have to find the least amount of impact to people, but people will see and feel some of this.”

Slater said his agency is trying to avoid layoffs by scaling back in other areas. For example, roads that typically would get a new layer of asphalt might instead just have potholes patched. Road crews will mow less often.

“I think people are already starting to see grass getting a little bit longer or less litter cleanup,” Slater said.

Nationwide, 18 states and 25 localities have recently canceled or delayed transportation projects valued at $10.9 billion, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

With most governors having declared construction to be essential during the pandemic, many states took advantage of unusually light traffic during stay-at-home orders to step up paving and other work. But much of the work that continued in the spring and early summer fell under contracts signed in the one or two years before the pandemic.

Alison Black, ARTBA’s chief economist, said she was struck by a decline in new contracts

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