IMF head says inflation impact could be ‘terrible’

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2008 (AFP) – Rising prices, especially for food, could have terrible consequences for the world, including the risk of war, and action needs to be taken to keep inflation in check, the IMF head said Saturday.

“Food prices, if they go on like they are doing today … the consequences will be terrible,” International Monetary Fund managing director Dominque Strauss-Kahn said.

“Hundreds of thousands of people will be starving … (leading) to disruption of the economic environment,” Strauss-Kahn told a news conference at the close of the IMF spring meeting here.

Development gains made in the past five or 10 years could be “totally destroyed,” he said, warning that social unrest could even lead to war.

“As we know, learning from the past, those kind of questions sometimes end in war,” he said. If the world wanted to avoid “these terrible consequences,” then rising prices had to be tackled.

In recent months, rising food costs have lead to social unrest in several countries such as Haiti and Egypt as governments grapple with a growing crisis sparked by a whole series of price increases in basic commodities.

On Saturday, Haitian President Rene Preval announced a reduction in the price o