Chart of the Week: Norway’s Home-Price Boom

By IMFBlog

July 10, 2017 

A crane looms over the city of Oslo, Norway: Constraints on new construction limit the supply of housing, driving up prices (photo: Ingram Publishing/Newscom)

Think Londoners and New Yorkers have it bad when it comes to sky-high house prices? Residents of Oslo have reason to gripe, too.

House prices in the Norwegian capital are among the world’s highest, as measured by the average cost of a home relative to household median income. Prices in Oslo are perhaps the most visible symptom of a real estate boom across the oil-rich, Nordic nation of 5.2 million people.

Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Norway’s Home-Price Boom” »

No Time to Stand Still: Strengthening Global Growth and Building Inclusive Economies

By Christine Lagarde

July 5, 2017

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

The port of Hamburg, Germany: G20 leaders meet to discuss policies to strengthen the global economic recovery (photo: Markus Lange/robertharding/Newscom)

Nearly sixty years ago, a little-known band called the Beatles arrived in Hamburg, got a haircut, recorded their first song, and found their sound.

Taking a cue from the Fab Four, world leaders gathering for the Group of Twenty Summit this week can make the most of their time in Hamburg—and leave Germany with a sound plan to strengthen global growth.

Continue reading “No Time to Stand Still: Strengthening Global Growth and Building Inclusive Economies” »

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. Continue reading “Fintech: Capturing the Benefits, Avoiding the Risks” »

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), and 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).

Continue reading “Two to Tango—Inflation Management in Unusual Times” »

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. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Why Energy Prices Matter” »

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. Continue reading “Higher Policy Uncertainty Could Be Bad News for Japan’s Economy” »

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. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Brexit and The City” »

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. Continue reading “How Trade with China Boosts Productivity” »

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. Continue reading “Beheading the Hydra: How the IMF Fights Corruption” »

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