Feb 6, 2023 - Economy

IMF's Georgieva on "devastating" impact of Soviet policies

IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

In an appearance on CBS's "60 Minutes" last night, IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva mostly focused on the global economic outlook, inflation, and emerging market debt problems.

  • But she also shared some personal stories of how growing up Soviet-era Bulgaria (and the aftermath of the Cold War) shaped her understanding of the importance of good policy.

What they're saying: As a girl, she worked in a food market in Sofia. "My very first duty was cabbage, to clean it and put it on display to be attractive," Georgieva told Lesley Stahl. 

  • As the Soviet Union crumbled, she recalled, the situation was bleak: "Nothing in the stores. Nothing. I would get up at 4:00 in the morning to queue to buy milk for my daughter. And in the mid '90s, inflation became so bad that ultimately, it went to 2,000% a year."
  • "I learnt the cost of bad policies and how devastating they are to ordinary people, and how you can change a course of economy with good policies. This is what I apply today in my job," she said.

Of note: The Russian invasion of Ukraine was personal for Georgieva, she told Stahl, because her brother was living in Khariv. "I would be calling him and I can hear that bombs are falling. I can hear it on the phone," she said.

Go deeper