The Digital Gamble: New Technology Transforms Fiscal Policy

2018-04-17T10:22:59+00:00April 12th, 2018|

By Vitor Gaspar and Geneviève Verdier

April 12, 2018

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

Traffic in Singapore: the city uses digital technology for road pricing to manage road congestion congestion (photo: Kua Chee Siong/ SPH/Newscom)..

In Rwanda, digitally-monitored drones deliver blood supplies to hospitals. In Estonia, it takes five minutes to file taxes and 99 percent of government services are available online. Singapore was the first city to implement electronic road pricing to manage congestion. The world is becoming digital, and reliable, timely, and accurate information is available at the push of a button. Governments are following suit, using digital tools for tax and expenditure policy, public financial management, and public service delivery.  (more…)

Risky Business: Reading Credit Flows for Crisis Signals

2018-04-18T10:54:09+00:00April 10th, 2018|

By Claudio Raddatz Kiefer and Jérôme Vandenbussche 

April 10, 2018

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

The odds of a severe economic downturn are higher when a growing portion of credit flows to riskier firms, according to a new IMF study (Photo: Pali 137/ iStock by Getty Images).

Supervisors who monitor the health of the financial system know that a rapid buildup of debt during an economic boom can spell trouble down the road. That is why they keep a close eye on the overall volume of credit in the economy. When companies go on a borrowing spree, supervisors and regulators may decide to put the brakes on credit growth.

Trouble is, measuring credit volume overlooks an important question: how much of that additional money flows to riskier companies – which are more likely to default in times of trouble—compared with more creditworthy firms? The IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report seeks to fill that gap by constructing measures of the riskiness of credit allocation, which should help policy makers spot clouds on the economic horizon. (more…)

For Home Prices in London, Check the Tokyo Listings

2018-04-18T10:55:42+00:00April 10th, 2018|

By Claudio Raddatz Kiefer and Jane Dokko

April, 10, 2018

Versions in عربي (Arabic);  中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish),  Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese),  Português (Portuguese)

Hong Kong viewed from Victoria Peak. House prices across countries and cities are increasingly moving in tandem (Photo: Fraser Hall/Robert Harding/Newscom).

If house prices are rising in Tokyo, are they also going up in London?

Increasingly, the answer is yes.

In recent decades, house prices around the world have shown a growing tendency to move in the same direction at the same time. What accounts for this phenomenon, and what are the implications for the world economy? These are questions that IMF economists explore in Chapter 3 of the latest Global Financial Stability Report. (more…)

Policy Actions to Sustain Growth and Guard Against Risks

2018-03-22T16:31:52+00:00March 15th, 2018|

By Christine Lagarde

March 15, 2018

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

Even though the sun still shines on the global economy, there are more clouds on the horizon (iStock by GettyImages).

When the Group of Twenty finance ministers and central bank governors met last October, there was a sense of optimism about the global economic upswing and the opportunities for much-needed reforms.

When they meet again in Buenos Aires next week, their focus will be on the policies needed to protect this upswing against downside risks and bolster growth going forward.

The good news is that the growth momentum has continued to strengthen, involving three- quarters of the world economy.

(more…)

Fintech Quiz: How Much Do You Know?

2018-03-12T12:51:13+00:00March 12th, 2018|

By IMFBlog

March 12, 2018

Rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the financial services landscape (iStock by Getty Images).

From artificial intelligence to cryptography, rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the financial services landscape, creating opportunities and challenges for consumers, service providers, and regulators alike. This new wave of technology is often called “fintech” and the industry is thriving. Consumers worldwide are using two or more fintech services, sometimes without knowing they are using fintech services. (more…)

Chart of the Week: China’s Thrift, and What to Do About It

2018-02-26T08:00:59+00:00February 26th, 2018|

February 26, 2018

By IMFBlog

A pedestrian walks in front of a branch of the Postal Savings Bank of China in Nanjing. China’s saving rate is one of the world’s highest (photo: Imagine China/Newscom).

What makes China’s citizens so thrifty, and why does that matter for China and the rest of the world? The country’s saving rate, at 46 percent of GDP, is among the world’s highest. Households account for about half of savings, with corporations and the government making up the rest.

Saving is good, right? Up to a point. But too much saving by individuals can be bad for society. That’s because the flip side of high savings is low consumption and low household welfare. High savings can also fuel excessive investment, resulting in a buildup of debt in China. And because people in China save so much, they buy fewer imported goods than they sell abroad. That contributes to global imbalances, according to a recent IMF paper, China’s High Savings: Drivers, Prospects, and Policies. The country’s authorities are aware of the issue and are taking steps to address it. (more…)

Smartphones Drive New Global Tech Cycle, but Is Demand Peaking?

2018-02-08T18:54:57+00:00February 8th, 2018|

By Benjamin Carton, Joannes Mongardini, and Yiqun Li

February 8, 2018

 Demand for smartphones is highly cyclical and related to the release of new models (photo: iStock by GettyImages).

Over a decade of spectacular growth, demand for smartphones has created a new global tech cycle that last year produced a new smartphone for every fifth person on earth.

This has created a complex and evolving supply chain across Asia, changing the export and growth performance of several countries. While our recent analysis of Chinese smartphone exports suggests that the global market may be saturated, demand for other electronics continues to support rising semiconductor production in Asia. (more…)

Chart of the Week: Inequality, Your Health, and Fiscal Policy

2018-02-05T12:09:27+00:00February 5th, 2018|

By Mercedes García-EscribanoBaoping Shang, and Emmanouil (Manos) Kitsios

February 5, 2018 

 Catania Sicily, Italy.  Men with a lower level of education live shorter lives, on average, than their better educated fellow citizens (photo: Jann Huizenga/Getty Images/IStock).

The gap in life expectancy between rich and poor people is a worldwide phenomenon, and has grown dramatically in recent years in some countries. 

In our Chart of the Week, we show how this longevity gap, which reflects inequality in access to health care and its impact on peoples’ overall health, varies across countries. Men with a lower level of education live shorter lives, on average, than their better educated fellow citizens: this gap ranges from four years in Italy, to 14 years in Hungary, according to the October 2017 Fiscal Monitor. (more…)

The Current Economic Sweet Spot Is Not the “New Normal”

2018-01-25T16:51:49+00:00January 22nd, 2018|

By Maurice Obstfeld

January 22, 2018

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

Global growth continues to pick up and is broad based. But no matter how tempting it is to sit back and enjoy the sunshine, policy can and should move to strengthen the recovery (photo: Mumbai, India, Ingram Publishing/Newscom).

As the year 2018 begins, the world economy is gathering speed. The new World Economic Outlook Update revises our forecast for the world economy’s growth in both 2018 and 2019 to 3.9 percent. For both years, that is 0.2 percentage points higher than last October’s forecast, and 0.2 percentage points higher than our current estimate of last year’s global growth. (more…)

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