Mapping Income Polarization in the United States

By Ali Alichi and Rodrigo Mariscal

May 15, 2018

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Investment in education an important countervailing force in addressing income inequality (photo: Istock by Getty Images).

When it comes to income inequality among American households, outcomes have varied widely across the 50 U.S. states.  The impact of international competition gets a lot of the blame, along with automation, in states that have fared the worst. Continue reading “Mapping Income Polarization in the United States” »

Trust and the Future of Multilateralism

By David Lipton

May 10, 2018
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Where trust exists and is reciprocated—where there is “confidence” in policies, institutions and systems—economies will achieve more (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

We live in an era of doubts and questions about the global order.  We have seen an erosion of trust in bedrock institutions—political parties, national governments, regional authorities, and among international trade and investment partners. Continue reading “Trust and the Future of Multilateralism” »

Malta’s Good Bet

By IMFBlog

May 7, 2018

Marsaxlokk Harbor, Malta. Not only tourist paradise: the country’s economy makes profits on the betting and gambling industry (photo: iStockPhoto/Andrey Danilovich).

Known mostly for its azure seas and spectacular old towns, Malta has also become a hub for gambling and betting companies: nowhere else in the European Union does this sector account for such a large part of the economy as on the island south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. While the gambling and betting boom contributes to the country’s trade balance and job creation, it also draws attention to a skills shortage and infrastructure gaps the sector is grappling with, a recent IMF paper shows. Continue reading “Malta’s Good Bet” »

Volatility Strikes Back

By Sergei Antoshin, Fabio Cortes, Will Kerry and Thomas Piontek

May 3, 2018 

Investors who bet on continued low volatility suffered steep losses (photo: Richard B. Levine/Newscom).

The bouts of volatility in early February and late March that spooked investors were confined to equity markets. Nevertheless, they illustrate the potential for sudden market moves to expose fragilities in the financial system more broadly.

With central banks in advanced economies set to normalize their monetary policies just as trade and geopolitical tensions flare up, economic and policy uncertainty may rise and financial conditions may tighten abruptly. Continue reading “Volatility Strikes Back” »

Shining a Bright Light into the Dark Corners of Weak Governance and Corruption

By Christine Lagarde

April 22, 2018

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Anti-corruption strategies require broader regulatory and institutional reforms (photo: Kritchanut/iStock).

The IMF Executive Board has just endorsed a new framework for stepping up engagement on governance and corruption in our member countries. Let me talk about why this is important and what it means for our work.

Continue reading “Shining a Bright Light into the Dark Corners of Weak Governance and Corruption” »

Bringing Down High Debt

By Vitor Gaspar and Laura Jaramillo

April 18, 2018

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High debt makes governments’ financing vulnerable to sudden changes in market sentiment (photo: NYSE-LUCAS JACKSON-REUTERS Newscom).

Global debt hit a new record high of $164 trillion in 2016, the equivalent of 225 percent of global GDP. Both private and public debt have surged over the past decade. High debt makes government’s financing vulnerable to sudden changes in market sentiment. It also limits a government’s ability to provide support to the economy in the event of a downturn or a financial crisis.

Countries should use the window of opportunity afforded by the economic upswing to strengthen the state of their fiscal affairs. The April 2018 Fiscal Monitor explores how countries can reduce government deficits and debt in a growth-friendly way.

Continue reading “Bringing Down High Debt” »

Global Economy: Good News for Now but Trade Tensions a Threat

By Maurice Obstfeld

April 17, 2018

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Container ship in Colombo, Sri Lanka: the recent escalating tensions over trade present a growing risk to the global economy (photo: STRINGER/REUTERS/Newscom).

The world economy continues to show broad-based momentum. Against that positive backdrop, the prospect of a similarly broad-based conflict over trade presents a jarring picture.

Three months ago, we updated our global growth forecast for this year and next substantially, to 3.9 percent in both years. That forecast is being borne out by continuing strong performance in the euro area, Japan, China, and the United States, all of which grew above expectations last year. We also project near-term improvements for several other emerging market and developing economies, including some recovery in commodity exporters. Continuing to power the world economy’s upswing are accelerations in investment and, notably, in trade. Continue reading “Global Economy: Good News for Now but Trade Tensions a Threat” »

An Even-handed Approach to Crypto-Assets

By Christine Lagarde

April 16, 2018

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Healthcare companies are studying how to use the technology behind crypto assets to maintain confidential medical data (BSIphotos/Newscom).

The dizzying gyrations of crypto-assets such as Bitcoin invite comparisons with the tulip mania that swept Holland in the 17th century and the recent dot-com bubble. With more than 1,600 crypto-assets in circulation, it seems inevitable that many will not survive the process of creative destruction.

In my blog last month, I looked at the dark side of crypto-assets, including their potential use for money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Here, I want to examine the promise they offer. A judicious look at crypto-assets should lead us to neither crypto-condemnation nor crypto-euphoria. Continue reading “An Even-handed Approach to Crypto-Assets” »

Fiscal Rules: Make them Easy to Love and Hard to Cheat

By Xavier Debrun, Luc Eyraud, Andrew Hodge, Victor Lledo, Catherine Pattillo, Abdelhak Senhadji

April 13, 2018

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The national debt clock in New York City: a fiscal rule, like the debt ceiling, should not be set too low or too high. (photo: Frances M. Roberts/Newscom)

Rules to contain lavish government deficits are most effective if countries design them to be simple, flexible, and enforceable in the face of changing economic circumstances.

In new analysis, we look at fiscal rules in over 90 countries and, based on their experiences, find that the rules put in the place over the last three decades often were too complex, overly rigid, and difficult to enforce. Continue reading “Fiscal Rules: Make them Easy to Love and Hard to Cheat” »

The Digital Gamble: New Technology Transforms Fiscal Policy

By Vitor Gaspar and Geneviève Verdier

April 12, 2018

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Traffic in Singapore: the city uses digital technology for road pricing to manage road congestion congestion (photo: Kua Chee Siong/ SPH/Newscom)..

In Rwanda, digitally-monitored drones deliver blood supplies to hospitals. In Estonia, it takes five minutes to file taxes and 99 percent of government services are available online. Singapore was the first city to implement electronic road pricing to manage congestion. The world is becoming digital, and reliable, timely, and accurate information is available at the push of a button. Governments are following suit, using digital tools for tax and expenditure policy, public financial management, and public service delivery.  Continue reading “The Digital Gamble: New Technology Transforms Fiscal Policy” »

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