Janet Yellen urges G20 to 'go big' with pandemic stimulus
Obama to nominate Janet Yellen to lead Federal Reserve [Bloomberg]

The world's most advanced nations must work in unison both to continue spending to boost the pandemic recovery, and help poor nations acquire Covid-19 vaccines, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Thursday.

"No one nation alone can declare victory over these crises," Yellen said in a letter to G20 finance officials meeting virtually. "This is a moment made for action and for multilateralism."

In the battle to help the global economy recover from the crisis, "our first task must be stopping the virus" with worldwide immunization, she said.

But she warned against making the mistake of pulling back too soon on the stimulus which governments have been providing to shore up their economies, saying now is the time to "go big."

Developing nations have raised the alarm -- echoed by the International Monetary Fund and others -- that the richest nations are hogging the world's supply of vaccines, leaving their poor brethren behind.

Yellen warned that this would lead to further loss of life and delay the economic recovery, and urged the G20 "to increase their support to meet the high, unmet needs" of global vaccine initiatives like COVAX.

"A rapid and truly global vaccination program is the strongest stimulus we can provide to the global economy," she said.

At the same time she stressed that G20 governments must continue to provide substantial support for their own economies to recover from the pandemic crisis, following the lead of the United States.

The US Congress is moving towards approving President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue package to help boost the economy.

"We must continue to provide economic support to our citizens, creating a bridge to the end of the pandemic," Yellen said.

"I urge G20 countries to continue to take significant fiscal and financial policy actions and avoid withdrawing support too early. If there was ever a time to go big, this is the moment."

The US official also backed a proposal to channel resources to low-income countries through an IMF currency known as SDRs.

This would "facilitate their much-needed health and economic recovery efforts," Yellen said.