Coming Down to Earth: How to Tackle Soaring Public Debt


Location: HQ1 Atrium, HQ1-1-700



Public debt soared to a record during the pandemic, topping global gross domestic product. Now, with government debt still elevated, the rise in interest rates and the strong US dollar are adding to interest costs, in turn weighing on growth and fueling financial stability risks. With several economies already in debt distress it is crucial to consider how to tackle these challenges.

This event will explore the challenges and possible approaches to managing and reducing public debts. Key questions we will examine include:

  • How have countries successfully reduced public debt ratios in the past?
  • What are the short- and medium-term effects of fiscal consolidations and debt restructuring on debt ratios, and how do they interact?
  • Under which conditions are fiscal consolidations and debt restructurings more likely to durably reduce debt ratios?





Andrea Shalal

Andrea Shalal reports on the White House, global trade and economics, the IMF and the World Bank, for Reuters. Over the span of nearly 34 years with Reuters, she has been based in Europe and the United States, covering the fall of the Berlin Wall, German reunification and the most recent German federal election, a host of U.S. elections, OPEC, energy and the environment, global arms sales, as well as politics, the arts and civil rights. She helped found a diversity initiative at Reuters in the United States in the late 1990s, has taught college and graduate courses on diversity and media ethics, and lectures occasionally about Arab-American literature and media issues. She has earned a “Blue Nose” for crossing the Arctic circle, hit 7Gs in a Super Hornet over the desert in UAE (without getting sick), and was among a group of Washington-based journalists selected as Reuters Journalists of the Year in 2015 for breaking news. She currently chairs the Washington chapter of the Journalism and Women Symposium and serves as a shop steward in the News Guild for her team at Reuters.




Marco Buti
Chief of Staff, Commissioner for the economy, European Commission

Marco Buti joined the European Commission in 1987. He is currently Chief of Staff of the Commissioner for the economy, Paolo Gentiloni, and was Director-General for Economic and Financial Affairs at the European Commission between 2008 and 2019 after a spell as Deputy Director-General and Director for national economies. He has been the Commission Finance Deputy at G7 and G20. A graduate of the universities of Florence and Oxford, he has been visiting professor at various universities in Europe. Over the last two decades, he has published eight books and many scholarly articles and policy papers on Economic and Monetary Union, the political economy of European integration, macroeconomic and financial policies, unemployment and welfare state reforms, and global economic governance. His latest book, The Man Inside – A European Journey through Two Crises, that revisits the economic policy design and implementation in Europe over the past decade, was published in October. 


Felix Nkulukusa
Secretary to the Treasury, Zambia

Felix  Nkulukusa worked for the Ministry of Finance joining the Ministry in July 1999 as a Budget Analyst and rising through the ranks to become Permanent Secretary (Chief Executive Officer) of the Ministry from July 2012 to March 2015. After leaving the Ministry of Finance in March 2015, Felix undertook individual consultancy works, mainly as a Public Finance Management (PFM) expert with international organisation including the EU, GIZ and FCDO (formerly called DFID) and USAID where he worked as Transaction Advisor for Power Africa Initiative, which was President Barak Obama’s initiative to generate 30,000MW of electricity and connect 60 million people in Africa by the year 2030. Felix also worked for the World Bank as a Short-Term Consultancy (STC) in South Sudan from April to October, 2021 where he helped the Government of South Sudan to develop their macroeconomic and revenue forecasting frameworks as well as providing them overall guidance on policies and procedures that support all aspects of the budget preparation cycle. Felix holds a Master’s Degree in Development Economics from Williams College, Massachusetts, USA; a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Zambia; and certificates in Tax Policy Analysis and Revenue Forecasting, and in Fiscal Decentralisation and Local Government Financial Management both obtained from Duke University, USA.


Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas
Director and Economic Counsellor, Research Department, IMF


Ceyla Pazarbasioglu
Director, Strategy, Policy and Review Department, IMF