Roads or Schools: A Critical Tradeoff

By Manoj Atolia, Bin Grace Li, Ricardo Marto, and Giovanni Melina

November 9, 2017 

Versions in 中文(Chinese), Español (Spanish), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese)

Low-income countries tend to spend less on schools than on roads as a share of GDP (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Roads or schools? It’s a question akin to the “guns or butter” choice that governments around the world confronted in the 20th century: How to spend a nation’s finite resources to produce the maximum benefit for its people.

In our recent IMF Working Paper, we find that low-income countries tend to spend less on schools than on roads as a share of GDP—even though investment in education may be a more pressing need in their societies. 

Continue reading “Roads or Schools: A Critical Tradeoff” »

Catch-Up Prospects in Emerging Economies: A Glass One Quarter Empty

By IMFBlog

November 6, 2017

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

A closer look at per capita incomes by country paints a different and more nuanced picture (photo: Pavel1964/iStock).

Per capita incomes in emerging market and developing economies are expected to grow by about 2 percentage points faster per year than advanced economies between 2017 and 2022. The implication is that the gap in income levels between the two groups of countries is narrowing. However, a closer look at per capita incomes by country paints a different and more nuanced picture.  Continue reading “Catch-Up Prospects in Emerging Economies: A Glass One Quarter Empty” »

Time to Act Now: It’s All About the Right Policy Mix

By IMFBlog

October 19, 2017

"The road ahead is not an easy one,’’ the IMF’s Executive Directors wrote after the IMF’s first ever Annual meeting in 1946.’’ We do not underestimate the difficulties facing us.’’

More than 70 years later, we’ve encountered many a storm across continents from the Latin American sovereign debt crisis to the Savings and Loans crisis to the Asian crisis. And then there was the global financial crisis of 2008. Continue reading “Time to Act Now: It’s All About the Right Policy Mix” »

The Unequal Burden of Rising Temperatures: How Can Low-Income Countries Cope?

By Sebastian Acevedo, Mico Mrkaic, Evgenia Pugacheva, and Petia Topalova

September 27, 2017

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

The Earth’s temperature is rising. This will shape the economic future of communities across the globe (photo: Leolintang/iStock by GettyImages).

The Earth’s temperature is rising and its climate is changing. The increase in temperatures will shape the economic future of communities and countries across the globe. All countries will feel the direct negative effects from unmitigated climate change. But as our research in Chapter 3 of the October 2017 World Economic Outlook shows, the effects of higher temperatures will not be equal everywhere and the brunt of the adverse consequences will be borne by those who can least afford it—low-income countries.  Continue reading “The Unequal Burden of Rising Temperatures: How Can Low-Income Countries Cope?” »

Back-to-School Blogs

By IMFBlog

September 5, 2017

Back to school in Paris, France: get caught up on our top blogs you may have missed over the summer (photo: LAURENT CHAMUSSY/SIPA/Newscom)

What a summer it’s been. To help you get a handle on all that has happened in the global economy, our editors have compiled a handy primer of our blogs published over the summer months. Continue reading “Back-to-School Blogs” »

Building Fiscal Institutions in Fragile States

By Katherine Baer, Sanjeev Gupta, Mario Pessoa

August 9, 2017

Version in Français (French)

A porter in the market in Kathmandu, Nepal: the country increased their tax revenues in recent years with the help of technical assistance (photo: Navesh Chitrakar/Newscom)

Fragile states face more obstacles to growth than most countries.  Their per-capita GDP is less than half of most other low-income countries, and their economies are more volatile.  Many are in conflict or going through a natural disaster, or just emerging from these.  Our study is based on 39 countries, and since completed, the number of fragile states has increased to 43. 

To grow, a country needs tax policies and tax administration, laws and institutions to formulate and execute a budget, and trained staff to implement fiscal policies, among other factors.  Our preliminary results show that fragile states that have received technical assistance, also have improved their fiscal performance.

Continue reading “Building Fiscal Institutions in Fragile States” »

Chart of the Week: The Potential for Growth and Africa’s Informal Economy

By IMFBlog

August 8, 2017

A street vendor sells roasted corn in Tanzania: Unregistered household enterprises comprise a significant portion of sub-Saharan Africa’s economy (photo: Ton Koene/VWPics/Newscom)

By 2035, sub-Saharan Africa will have added more working-age people to their workforce than the rest of the world’s regions combined. And this growing workforce will have to be met with jobs. In the region, up to 90 percent of jobs outside agriculture are in the informal sector. This includes household enterprises that are not formally registered, like street vendors or domestic workers. It also includes off-the-books activities by registered firms—for example, the taxi driver who offers a discount if the meter is not turned on.

Continue reading “Chart of the Week: The Potential for Growth and Africa’s Informal Economy” »

A Common Cause for Sustainable Growth and Stability in Central Africa

By Abebe Aemro Selassie

August 1, 2017

Version in Français (French),  Português (Portuguese), and Español (Spanish);

Woman with a machete in Bafut, Cameroon: Six countries in Central Africa have a strategy to turn their economies around, with help from the IMF (photo: Heiner Heine/imageBroker/Newscom)

Six countries in central Africa have been hit hard by the collapse in commodity prices. Oil prices dropped, economic growth stalled, public debt rose, and foreign exchange reserves declined. A delayed response from policymakers, and a regional conflict have worsened the situation further for people in the region.

The countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community are Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea. They share a common currency—the CFA franc—that is pegged to the euro, and have a common central bank that holds the region’s pool of foreign exchange reserves. Continue reading “A Common Cause for Sustainable Growth and Stability in Central Africa” »

Uganda’s Recipe for Growth

By IMFBlog

July 21, 2017

Construction worker in Uganda (photo: James Akena/Reuters/Newscom)

After two decades of steady growth, Uganda’s economy has slowed, and life for Ugandans is not improving fast enough.

Drought in the Horn of Africa, regional conflict, and slow credit growth have contributed to this decline, with per capita growth falling to ½ percent from an average of 5 percent for the past 20 years. Continue reading “Uganda’s Recipe for Growth” »

Transparency Pays: Emerging Markets Share More Data

By Sangyup Choi and Stephanie Medina Cas

July 7, 2017

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

On the move in Mexico City, Mexico: emerging market economies that are transparent with their data can lower their borrowing costs (photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters/Newscom)

If sunlight is the best disinfectant, as US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once famously said, can it also be a money maker? We have tried to quantify the financial gains from greater transparency that emerging market countries can achieve.

Continue reading “Transparency Pays: Emerging Markets Share More Data” »

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