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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Thursday said she is confident that America has avoided a K-shaped recovery, but warned many low-income nations appear on track for that outcome unless rich countries support them.
"When I took office, one of my greatest concerns was a K-shaped recovery from the pandemic; a recovery where high-income households rebounded quickly – or even emerged better-off – while low- and middle-income families suffered for a very long time," she said about the American economy. "We can be confident now that's not going to happen."
"The same, though, cannot be said of the global economy," she said in prepared testimony to Congress. "Low-income nations haven't had the fiscal space to implement sweeping relief, as we did with the American Rescue Plan," the Biden administration's USD1.9 trillion relief package passed in March. Yellen requested Congressional support for funds for the World Bank, the African Development Bank, support in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, the IMF, and money for climate change initiatives.
Citing limited ability to access vaccines, with many low-income countries where more than 99% of the population is unvaccinated, Yellen said "the economic divergence we feared here in the United States is happening on the world stage. By the end of the year, COVID-19 might push as many as 150 million people back into living on less than USD2 a day."