End the Credit Rating Addiction

One of the earliest take aways from the global financial crisis was the importance of access to information for effectively functioning financial markets. And, in that regard, credit ratings can serve an incredibly useful role in global and domestic financial markets. But, in practice, credit ratings have inadvertently contributed to financial instability. To be fair, the problem does not lie entirely with the ratings themselves, but with overreliance on ratings by both borrowers and creditors. In one of the background papers for the Fall 2010 Global Financial Stability Report that John Kiff prepared with IMF colleagues, they recommend that regulators should reduce their reliance on credit ratings. Markets need to end their addiction to credit ratings.

Forewarned Is Forearmed: How the Early Warning Exercise Expands the IMF’s Surveillance Toolkit

“Never again can we let ourselves be caught unprepared by an economic and financial crisis of such global magnitude.” This was the spirit, in late 2008, in which G-20 Finance Ministers tasked the IMF and the Financial Stability Board to jointly develop an Early Warning Exercise (EWE). The inspiration was clear: In the wake of the onset of unprecedented financial turmoil, policymakers recognized that earlier danger signs had not been synthesized into an actionable warning. The EWE was intended to fill the analytical gap—to produce an effective “call to arms” as threats emerge, but well before crises erupt. Here, IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky discusses how the EWE works, and how it will help to more systematically and effectively reduce the risk of a new global crisis.

Making up for Lost Time: Getting Back on Track to the Millennium Development Goals

With only five years to go until the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, the global financial crisis struck a blow to the poverty reduction agenda. All is not lost, however. Reducing poverty on a massive scale is do-able—the number of people living in extreme poverty fell by a staggering 400 million from 1990 to 2005. The question is, how do we regain the momentum? It won’t be easy and, as a global problem, it will require a shared effort between the developing countries themselves, the advanced economies, and the international organizations.

Saving the Lost Generation

Oslo was the scene this week of a remarkable event that brought together global leaders from government, business, trade unions, and academia to discuss what many of them said is the biggest issue facing the world today: the jobs crisis. In this blog, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn reflects on unemployment today—the highest level in history—and, importantly, about what can be done to save the potentially "lost generation" of unemployed young people.

Global Safety Nets: Crisis Prevention in an Age of Uncertainty

As the global economics crisis abates, there is an emerging consensus that a better global financial safety net is needed to enable countries with good policies to insure against bad outcomes, especially when they are innocent by-standers caught in a financial turmoil. Last week the IMF took another step toward meeting this need by further enhancing its country insurance facilities. Reza Moghadam, head of the IMF’s Strategy, Policy, and Review Department, has authored this blog to coincide with a series of speeches about the reforms, including a scheduled speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics next Monday. The blog outlines the two major changes: enhancements to our flagship insurance option—the Flexible Credit Line (FCL)—for countries with very strong policies and economic fundamentals; and the establishment of a new Precautionary Credit Line (PCL), which offers a new form of contingent protection for countries with some moderate vulnerabilities.

Watch This (Fiscal) Space: Assessing Room for Fiscal Maneuver in Advanced Countries

Today, fiscal problems are a key concern of policy makers in many industrial countries, and a reassessment of sovereign risk is a palpable threat to global recovery. At the heart of the issue is the extent to which governments have room for fiscal maneuver—“fiscal space”—before markets force them to tighten policies sharply and, relatedly, the size of adjustments needed to restore or maintain public debt sustainability. Yet, much of the talk about fiscal space—how to measure it and the policy implications—has so far been rather fuzzy. In this blog, Jonathan Ostry discusses a new staff position note that he co-authored with several IMF colleagues, which aims to remedy this by providing an operational definition of the fiscal space concept as well as estimates of fiscal space for 23 advanced economies.

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