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. (more…)

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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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. (more…)

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. (more…)

The Economics of Trust

By IMFBlog

May 10, 2017

Trust in other people—the glue that holds society together—is increasingly in short supply in the United States and Europe, and inequality may be the culprit.

In surveys over the past 40 years, the share of Americans who say that most people can be trusted has fallen to 33 percent from about 50 percent. The erosion of trust coincides with widening disparities in incomes. (more…)

Chart of the Week: The Cost of Asia’s Aging

By IMFBlog

May 1, 2017

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), Bahasa (Indonesia), and 本語 (Japanese) 

When it comes to tackling demographic change in Asia, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for policymakers. In some countries, like Japan, the population is aging rapidly, and the labor force is shrinking. In others, like the Philippines, young people are flooding the job market in search of work.

As our chart shows, the impact of aging could potentially drag down Japan’s average annual GDP growth by 1 percentage point over the next three decades. While in India and the Philippines, which have some of the youngest populations in the region, a growing workforce could potentially increase GDP by that same amount. (more…)

Five Keys to a Smart Fiscal Policy

By Vitor Gaspar and Luc Eyraud

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

We live in a world of dramatic economic change. Rapid technological innovation has fundamentally reshaped the way we live and work. International trade and finance, migration, and worldwide communications have made countries more interconnected than ever, exposing workers to greater competition from abroad. While these changes have brought tremendous benefits, they have also led to a growing perception of uncertainty and insecurity, particularly in advanced economies.

Today’s conditions require new, more innovative solutions, which the IMF calls smart fiscal policies. By smart policies we mean policies that facilitate change, harness its growth potential, and protect people who are hurt by it. At the same time, excessive borrowing and record levels of public debt have limited the financial resources available to government. So, fiscal policy must do more with less. Fortunately, researchers and policy makers are realizing that the fiscal tool kit is broader and the tools more powerful than they thought. Five guiding principles sketch the contours of these smart fiscal policies, which are described in chapter one of the IMF’s April 2017 Fiscal Monitor. (more…)

Global Financial Stability Improves; Getting the Policy Mix Right to Sustain Gains

By Tobias Adrian

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

The world’s financial system has become safer and more stable since our last assessment six months ago. Economic activity has gained momentum. The outlook has improved and hopes for reflation have risen. Monetary and financial conditions remain highly accommodative. And investor optimism over the new policies under discussion in the United States has boosted asset prices. These are some of the conclusions of the IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report

But it’s important for governments in the United States, Europe, China and elsewhere to follow through on investor expectations by adopting the right mix of policies. This means preventing fiscal imbalances, resisting calls for higher trade barriers, and maintaining global cooperation on regulations needed to make the financial system safer. (more…)

Global Economy Gaining Momentum—For Now

By Maurice Obstfeld

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

Momentum in the global economy has been building since the middle of last year, allowing us to reaffirm our earlier forecasts of higher global growth this year and next. We project the world economy to grow at a pace of 3.5 percent in 2017, up from 3.1 percent last year, and 3.6 percent in 2018. Acceleration will be broad based across advanced, emerging, and low-income economies, building on gains we have seen in both manufacturing and trade.

Our new projection for 2017 in the April World Economic Outlook is marginally higher than what we expected in our last update. This improvement comes primarily from good economic news for Europe and Asia, as well as our continuing expectation for higher growth this year in the United States.

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