Promoting Multilateral Solutions for a Globalized World

The new issue of Finance & Development magazine looks at different aspects of interconnectedness. Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, argues that what he terms the global village increasingly requires global solutions to big emerging problems such as climate change. Kemal Derviş, former head of the United Nations Development Programme who is now a vice president at the Brookings Institution, looks at three fundamental shifts in the global economy that are leading to major adjustments in the balance between east and west.

Top 20 — iMFdirect’s Top 20 list

The IMF blog has helped stimulate considerable debate about economic policy in the current crisis, on events in Europe and around the world, on fiscal adjustment, on regulating the financial sector, and the future of macroeconomics, as economists learn lessons from the Great Recession. As readers struggled to understand the implications of the crisis, our most popular post by far was IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard's Four Hard Truths, a look back at 2011 and the economic lessons for the future.

Growing Institutions? Grow the People!

The current crisis in the eurozone also highlights the importance of coherent economic and political institutions at all levels of economic development. Weaknesses in national macroeconomic and statistical institutions in supposedly “advanced” countries were at the root of the crisis, especially in Greece. And the lack of supportive fiscal and regulatory institutions at the European level—which require making additional steps in political integration—is behind the markets’ continued anxiety surrounding the common European currency.

U.S. Fiscal Policy: Avoiding Self-Inflicted Wounds

In late 2012 or early 2013 the U.S. federal government will again reach a statutory borrowing limit and will not be able to issue additional debt. Why is this a problem? First, because the federal government is spending considerably more than it collects in taxes; and second, because spending and tax collections are not synchronized. As a result, if the ceiling is not raised in time, the government would need to cut spending drastically, curtailing important government functions, with detrimental effects on output and employment. And just the mere possibility that the government might have to delay a payment on a bond could unsettle financial markets.

Financial Support for Arab Countries in Transition

The IMF’s assistance varies across the region, given that each country faces its own economic challenges, and the instruments to tackle those challenges must be tailored to address those unique circumstances. I am pleased to say that a few days ago, in response to the authorities’ request, the IMF Board approved two loans in support of the economic reform agendas of Arab countries in transition: one for Jordan under a Standby Arrangement in the amount of $2.05 billion, and another for Morocco in the amount of $6.2 billion under our Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL). This follows on our earlier concessional loan to Yemen under the Rapid Credit Facility.

Bridging the Gap: How Official Financing Can Ease the Pain of Adjustment

As I step down from my position as Director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department, I would like to share some reflections on one of the central issues facing many countries—adjustment under fixed exchange rates. It goes without saying that these reflect a personal and not an institutional view. In the old days, fixed exchange rates were the norm rather than the exception. A body of literature and a wealth of country experience have accumulated on how to adjust under such exchange rate regimes, mostly in emerging economies. The expression “adjustment and financing” came to summarize what economies should do when faced with severe funding constraints brought on by high borrowing costs for government debt in financial markets.

Japan Stands Up

In a display of its resilience, Japan is getting up once again after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of a year ago. But the world’s third largest economy still faces multiple challenges, and in our latest assessment of the country’s economy, the Japanese mission team at the International Monetary Fund has proposed a range of mutually reinforcing policies to strengthen confidence, raise growth and help restore Japan’s economic vitality.

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