Aging Japan Puts a Strain on the Financial System

By Gaston Gelos and Sònia Muñoz

August 10, 2017

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

Elderly shoppers in Tokyo’s Sugamo district: As Japan's population ages, demand for financial services shifts (photo: Issei Kato/Reuters/Newscom).

Japan’s population is shrinking and getting older, posing challenges to the nation’s financial system. How Japan copes could guide other advanced economies in Asia and Europe that are grappling with the same trends but are at an earlier phase of similar demographic developments.

Continue reading “Aging Japan Puts a Strain on the Financial System” »

A Dip into Subzero Policy Rates

by Giovanni Dell’Ariccia, Vikram Haksar, and Tommaso Mancini-Griffoli

August 3, 2017

Versions in ربي (Arabic), 中文 (Chinese),  Español (Spanish), 日本語 (Japanese); Русский (Russian)

A recent IMF paper looks at the effectiveness of negative interest rates, drawing on the initial experience of the euro area, Denmark, Japan, Sweden, and Switzerland (photo: Tuckraider/iStock by Getty Images)

Zero was gradually adopted in the ancient world—both east and west—as the ultimate point of reference, a point above and below which things change. For the ancient Egyptians, zero represented the base of pyramids. In science it became the freezing point of water, in geography the altitude of the sea, in history the starting point of calendars.

In the realm of monetary policy, zero was typically seen as the lower bound for interest rates. That has changed in recent years in the context of a slow recovery from the 2008 crisis. Several central banks hit zero and began experimenting with negative interest rate policies. Most did so to counter very low inflation, but some also were concerned about currencies that were too strong. Continue reading “A Dip into Subzero Policy Rates” »

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” »

Stepping up the Fight Against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

By Christine Lagarde

July 26, 2017

Versions in ربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Français (French), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

Money laundering and terrorist financing threaten economic stability. International cooperation is vital in the fight against misuse of the financial system (photo: CraigRJD/iStock by Getty Images)


Corrupt officials, tax cheats, and the financial backers of terrorism have one thing in common: they often exploit vulnerabilities in financial systems to facilitate their crimes.

Money laundering and terrorist financing can threaten a country’s economic and financial stability while funding violent and illegal acts. That is why many governments have stepped up the fight against such practices, helped by international institutions such as the IMF.

Continue reading “Stepping up the Fight Against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing” »

A Firming Recovery

By Maurice Obstfeld

July 24, 2017

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

(photo: IMF)

The recovery in global growth that we projected in April is on a firmer footing; there is now no question mark over the world economy’s gain in momentum.

As in our April forecast, the World Economic Outlook Update projects  3.5 percent growth in global output for this year and 3.6 percent for next.

The distribution of this growth around the world has changed, however: compared with last April’s projection, some economies are up but others are down, offsetting those improvements. Continue reading “A Firming Recovery” »

What We Have Seen and Learned 20 Years After the Asian Financial Crisis

By Mitsuhiro Furusawa

July 13, 2017

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

A trader in Seoul, South Korea: Asia is the largest contributor to global growth (photo: Ryu Seung-il/Polaris/Newscom)

Asia today is the fastest-growing region in the world, and the largest contributor to global growth. It has six members of the Group of Twenty advanced and emerging economies, and its economic and social achievements are well recognized.

But 20 years ago, July 1997 marked the beginning of the Asian Financial Crisis, when a combination of economic, financial and corporate problems triggered a sharp loss of confidence and capital outflows from the region’s emerging market economies. The crisis began in Thailand on July 2, when the baht’s peg to the dollar was dropped, and eventually spread to Korea, Indonesia and other countries. Continue reading “What We Have Seen and Learned 20 Years After the Asian Financial Crisis” »

Migration and Remittances in Latin America and the Caribbean: Brain Drain Versus Economic Stabilization

By Svetlana Cerovic and Kimberly Beaton

June 29, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish) and Português (Portuguese)

People waiting to withdraw money in La Cruz, Costa Rica: emigrants from Latin America send home sizable remittances (photo: Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters/Newscom)

Many people from Latin America and the Caribbean live and work abroad. Migrants have been motivated to leave their home country in search of better job opportunities and, in some cases, a more secure environment. Their families at home often benefit from the remittances migrants send home, which help improve their standard of living, health care, and education. Remittances also provide financial resources for trade and investment, which helps boost the country’s growth. Continue reading “Migration and Remittances in Latin America and the Caribbean: Brain Drain Versus Economic Stabilization” »

Banking On the Go

By IMFBlog

June 23, 2017

Tayo Oviosu at IMF lecture (photo: Ryan Rayburn/IMF staff)

Worldwide, more than two billion people are without bank accounts, and only one in three adults in sub-Saharan Africa has access to any type of financial services. In this podcast, Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO of Nigeria's leading mobile payment platform, Paga, reveals how his company is rapidly bringing millions of unbanked Nigerians into the banking fold. Continue reading “Banking On the Go” »

Chart of the Week: FDI in Financial Centers

By IMFBlog

June 13, 2017

International financial flows have declined significantly after the crisis, and their composition has changed. As portfolio and other investment flows took a dip between 2007 and 2015, foreign direct investment (FDI) continued to surge. The increase is concentrated in financial centers, which now account for almost half of global FDI claims.

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By | June 13th, 2017|banking, Caribbean, Europe, exchange rates, Finance, Investment, taxation, trade|0 Comments

Why Talk of Bank Capital ‘Floors’ Is Raising the Roof

By Tobias Adrian and Aditya Narain

June 8, 2017

The headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, which houses the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (photo: Christian Hartmann/Reuters/Newscom)

Calculating how much capital banks should have is often a bone of contention between regulators and banks. While there has been considerable progress on reaching consensus on an international standard, one key issue remains unresolved. This is a proposal to establish a “floor,” or minimum, for the level of capital the largest banks must maintain.

Some financial institutions and national authorities question the need for a “floor,’’ arguing either that differences in business models or other elements of the global regulatory framework—notably limits on the amount of leverage banks may take on—make them redundant. We disagree. The floor reduces the chances that banks can game the system to reduce their capital buffers to levels that aren’t aligned with their risks. It is an essential element of global efforts to create a level playing field for banks operating across countries by strengthening common standards for regulation, supervision and risk management.

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