Tax officials and experts grappled with the issue of tax treaties several weeks ago at the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings. This arcane subject has now emerged as a new lightning rod in the debate on fairness in international taxation. As citizens demand that corporations pay their fair share of taxes and some governments struggle to raise enough revenues for basic services, tax treaties present difficult issues.
A return to the strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth that Group of Twenty leaders called for at Hangzhou in September still eludes us. Global growth remains weak, even though it shows no noticeable deceleration over the last quarter. The new World Economic Outlook sees a slowdown for the group of advanced economies in 2016 and an offsetting pickup for emerging and developing economies. Taken as a whole, the world economy has moved sideways. Without determined policy action to support economic activity over the short and longer terms, sub-par growth at recent levels risks perpetuating itself—through the negative economic and political forces it is unleashing.
Too often, a spirit of international cooperation evaporates just when it is most needed and most promising. And then, lack of cooperation leads to crisis; crisis belatedly forces cooperation; but that cooperation must begin with picking up the pieces.
In recent years, citizens’ concerns about allegations of corruption in the public sector have become more visible and widespread. From São Paulo to Johannesburg, citizens have taken to the streets against graft. In countries like Chile, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Malaysia and Ukraine, they are sending a clear and loud message to their leaders: Address corruption!
Policymakers are paying attention too. Discussing corruption has long been a sensitive topic at inter-governmental organizations like the International Monetary Fund. But earlier this month at its Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru, the IMF hosted a refreshingly frank discussion on the subject. The panel session provided a stimulating debate on definitions of corruption, its direct and indirect consequences, and strategies for addressing it, including the role that individuals and institutions such as the IMF can play. This blog gives a flavor of the discussion.
According to Plato, you do not really know something unless you can give an account of it. Otherwise, you have just an opinion and not real knowledge. The seminars that took place during the IMF’s Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru would have made Plato proud.
Our editors deployed their pens and notepads and brought back these themes and highlights.
by Vitor Gaspar
The world economy is experiencing important transitions and associated uncertainties.
- Commodity prices have fallen sharply, with adverse consequences for exporting countries.
- China’s rebalancing and the prospect of U.S. interest rate increases are having important and costly spillover effects on other economies.
- And these and other factors are posing important fiscal challenges, especially for emerging markets.
Today, we released the October 2015 World Economic Outlook.
Our forecasts come at a moment when the world economy is at the intersection of at least three powerful forces.
First, China’s economic transformation – away from export- and investment-led growth and manufacturing, in favor of a greater focus on consumption and services. This process, however necessary and healthy in the longer term, has near-term implications for China’s growth and its relations with its trade partners.
Debt held by firms in emerging market economies in a currency other than their own poses extra complications these days. When the U.S. Fed does eventually raise interest rates, the accompanying further strengthening of the U.S. dollar will mean an emerging market’s own currency will depreciate against the higher value of the U.S. dollar, and would make it increasingly difficult for firms to service their foreign currency-denominated debts if they have not been properly hedged.
In the latest Global Financial Stability Report, we find that firms in emerging markets that have increased their debt-to-assets ratios have generally also increased their overall sensitivity to changes in the exchange rate—commonly called exchange-rate exposure.
Latin America under stress
After a period of strong growth, economic activity in Latin America has slowed sharply. Growth among the six larger, financially-integrated economies—Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay—is expected to be negative this year. With heightened financial market pressures and limited policy space, the credibility of policy makers is being seriously tested. In this challenging environment, policy-makers in these six countries face some difficult questions: how to strike the right balance between smoothing the adjustment and strengthening credibility? What role should fiscal policy play in this new, uncertain and rapidly evolving environment?
These and other questions will be addressed at the Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru next week. As we prepare for these meetings, we offer our thoughts on some of the pressing issues for Latin America.