Fintech: Capturing the Benefits, Avoiding the Risks

By Christine Lagarde

June 20, 2017

Versions in عربي (Arabic), 中文 (Chinese), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

A signboard at a store in Guangzhou, China, lists various forms of mobile payment (photo: Imagine China/Newscom)

When you send an email, it takes one click of the mouse to deliver a message next door or across the planet. Gone are the days of special airmail stationery and colorful stamps to send letters abroad.

International payments are different. Destination still matters. You might use cash to pay for a cup of tea at a local shop, but not to order tea leaves from distant Sri Lanka. Depending on the carrier, the tea leaves might arrive before the seller can access the payment. (more…)

Two to Tango—Inflation Management in Unusual Times

By Vitor Gaspar, Maurice Obstfeld, and Chang Yong Rhee

June 15, 2017

Versions in  中文 (Chinese), 日本語 (Japanese)

Shinjuku shopping district, Tokyo, Japan. Strong coordination between monetary and fiscal policies can help Japan tackle its low inflation (photo: Nikada/iStock/Getty Images)

Monetary and fiscal policies interact in complex ways. Yet modern institutional arrangements typically feature a strict separation of responsibilities. For example, the central bank targets inflation and smooths business cycle fluctuations, while the fiscal authority agrees to respect its budget constraint and to support financial stability by maintaining the safe asset status of its debt. This gives governments the freedom to pursue a multiplicity of economic and social objectives (in IMF parlance, inclusive growth).

(more…)

Chart of the Week: Why Energy Prices Matter

By IMFBlog

June 5, 2017

Versions in   عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish)

(photo: Imagine China/Newscom)

Wind turbines and solar panels generate electricity at power station, Jiangsu, China. Getting energy prices right will help reduce environmental costs and save lives (photo: Imagine China/Newscom)

World Environment Day is an occasion to consider why it’s so important to get energy prices right. The IMF has long argued that energy prices that reflect environmental costs can help governments achieve their goals not only for improving public health but also for inclusive growth and sound public finances.  

A number of countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia have recently taken important steps to increase energy prices towards market levels. Some others, such as India and China have made important strides in cost-effective renewable energy sources—and reduced their reliance on fossil fuels. Still, undercharging for fossil fuel energy remains pervasive and substantial and can cause severe health effects from pollution, particularly in densely populated countries. (more…)

Higher Policy Uncertainty Could Be Bad News for Japan’s Economy

by  Elif C. Arbatli, Steven J. Davis, and Arata Ito

May 30, 2017

Version in  中文 (Chinese), 日本語 (Japanese)

Policy uncertainty remains a challenge in Japan, and can harm the country’s economic performance according to a new IMF study. The good news is that credible plans for taxation, spending and structural reforms, as well as greater clarity about monetary policy can reduce uncertainty. (more…)

Chart of the Week: Brexit and The City

By IMFBlog

May 29, 2017

It seems likely that Brexit will alter the relationship that UK-based financial firms have with the European Union—even though negotiations are just beginning.

For an idea of how much is at stake for the United Kingdom’s financial services industry, take a look at our Chart of the Week, drawn from the IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report. The chart illustrates the linkages that might be affected by the country’s withdrawal from the EU. One example: of the over-the-counter trading in foreign exchange derivatives in the United Kingdom, Germany and France, the UK share comes to 89 percent. (more…)

How Trade with China Boosts Productivity

By JaeBin Ahn and Romain Duval

May 24, 2017

Versions  عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Français (French), 本語 (Japanese), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

Container port, Qingdao city, China. Trade with China has helped improve living standards in advanced economies through higher productivity (photo: Imagine China/Newscom)

Advocates of protectionist policies in advanced economies blame job losses on growing trade with China, and influential researchers have provided some empirical backing for their claims. Yet the benefits of trade with China are often overlooked. Among them is faster growth in productivity—the key driver of improved living standards. This suggests that rather than erecting new barriers to trade, advanced economies should continue to open up—while doing much more to help those who have lost their jobs to overseas competition. (more…)

Beheading the Hydra: How the IMF Fights Corruption

By Alistair Thomson 

May 18, 2017 

Versions in عربي (Arabic), 中文 (Chinese), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

Corruption drains public resources and drags down economic growth in multiple ways (photo: dareknie/iStock by Getty Images)

Corruption—the abuse of public office for private gain—is a many-headed monster. It is pervasive in many countries, but only a fraction of cases make headlines; fewer are successfully prosecuted. Yet the cumulative burden is massive. By some estimates, bribery alone amounts to $1 trillion each year, and corruption more broadly to much more. While the precise figures are the subject of debate, the importance of the problem is not. (more…)

Every Woman Counts: Gender Budgeting in G7 Countries

By Christine Lagarde

May 13, 2017

Versions in عربي (Arabic), 中文 (Chinese),  Français (French),  本語 (Japanese), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the G7 countries met in Bari, Italy, this weekend to consider global economic issues, including steps to maintain economic stability and improving gender equality as important agenda items.

Women’s economic empowerment has long been an international priority, of course. The G6—as it was then—was first created in 1975, a year named “International Women’s Year” by the United Nations to help more women worldwide realize their full potential. Mountain climber Junko Tabei masterfully demonstrated this potential when she became the first woman to conquer Mount Everest in that year. However, as the world dealt with the aftermath of the first oil shock and the end of the fixed exchange rate system, global economic stability and women’s empowerment were rarely part of the same conversation.

Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest and the “Seven Summits”—the highest mountains across seven continents (photo: John van Hasselt/Corbis/Getty Images)

How times have changed. Today, in discussions on the global economy, female economic empowerment is almost always on the agenda. (more…)

The Economics of Trust

By IMFBlog

May 10, 2017

Trust in other people—the glue that holds society together—is increasingly in short supply in the United States and Europe, and inequality may be the culprit.

In surveys over the past 40 years, the share of Americans who say that most people can be trusted has fallen to 33 percent from about 50 percent. The erosion of trust coincides with widening disparities in incomes. (more…)

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