It is often claimed that inflation targeting , to be successful, needs to include a high degree of exchange rate flexibility, with the policy rate geared to stabilizing inflation and the exchange rate allowed to fluctuate freely. But a new paper from the IMF examines the case for using two policy instruments—the policy interest rate and sterilized foreign exchange market intervention—in emerging market countries aiming to maintain low inflation while avoiding the damage that large and abrupt currency movements may engender. It argues that in a world of volatile capital movements, and sharp ups and downs in exchange rates, there are important benefits to making use of all available policy instruments, both from a single country’s perspective, and from a global standpoint. Provided policymakers are clear about their objectives, there is no conflict between an inflation targeting framework and making use of the foreign exchange market intervention instrument to attenuate deviations of exchange rates.
The issue of reviving or maintaining economic growth is a the forefront of policymakers’ minds all around the world. Of course, the policies needed to achieve that differ from region-to-region, country-to-country. For many countries in Africa, weak infrastructure is an obstacle to raising growth. In a recent interview with the IMF’s Survey online magazine, Andrew Berg of the IMF’s Research Department (and one of our contributing bloggers) discusses how Africa can step up investment in its infrastructure by augmenting traditional sources of financing with foreign borrowing and private investment.
"Derailment of the global recovery, which was a clear and distinct danger a few months ago, has been avoided for now thanks to strong policy measures--in particular those of the European Central Bank--and strengthened governance in the euro area, and reforms and adjustment in countries such as Italy, Spain, and Greece," Lagarde said. "High frequency indicators also now suggest an uptick in activity, mostly in the United States."
“The combination of ambitious and broad policy efforts by Greece , and substantial and long-term financial contributions by the official and private sectors, will create the space needed to secure improvements in debt sustainability and competitiveness," Lagarde said in a statement. "These actions, together with a significant strengthening of the financial sector, will pave the way for a gradual resumption of economic growth."
The IMF's Finance & Development magazine has just come out with a useful web compilation of stories in its Back to Basics series on economics. The page is aimed at students, academics, and those seeking a broader understanding of economic ideas. It pulls together articles from the “Back to Basics” column in the quarterly magazine that have been published since 2003.
The IMF has sharply marked down its forecast for world growth and it now expects a mild recession in the euro area. Naturally, weaker world growth will affect economic activity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Concretely, the Fund expects the world economy to grow by just 3¼ percent in 2012, ¾ percentage points lower than our September forecasts. In contrast, our forecast for the U.S. economy for 2012 is unchanged, as incoming data signal a stronger—but still sluggish—domestic recovery that will offset a weaker global environment. Commodity prices will be affected by ebbing global demand, with oil projected to fall about 5 percent and non-oil commodities about 14 percent.
I leave the Middle East and North Africa region with a sense of hope and resolve to return to the region again soon. I believe that with determination, the goals of the Arab reform agenda are within reach. Putting such reforms in place will help countries in the region both meet people’s aspirations and help them contribute even more to the rest of the world.
Tunisia is going through an inclusive process of transition, but faces some extraordinary challenges. I have heard from its leaders how Tunisia was the model that paved the way for the Arab Spring, and their firm belief that it remains capable of lighting the path forward for other countries going through historic changes in the region.
Indiana Jones, the fictional character of the namesake movies, once said “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.” The quote comes to mind as many advanced economies wrestle with the best way for pension reform to ensure both retirees and governments don’t go broke. Our view, explained in a new study, is that in fact the years do matter. Our analysis shows that gradually raising retirement ages could help countries contain pension spending increases and boost economic growth.