Fintech Quiz: How Much Do You Know?

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. Continue reading “Fintech Quiz: How Much Do You Know?” »

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

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. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: China’s Thrift, and What to Do About It” »

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

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. Continue reading “Smartphones Drive New Global Tech Cycle, but Is Demand Peaking?” »

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

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. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Inequality, Your Health, and Fiscal Policy” »

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

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. Continue reading “The Current Economic Sweet Spot Is Not the “New Normal”” »

Slowly but Surely, a Farewell to Fossil Fuels

By IMFBlog

January 19, 2018

Repairs to an oil rig in North Dakota, United States: Eighty percent of the world’s energy consumption is based on fossil fuels (photo: North Dakota/Jim Gehrz/MCT/Newscom).

This has never happened before. Never. Three years of stagnating carbon dioxide emissions coupled with relatively healthy global economic growth. In this podcast , International Energy Agency Chief Economist Laszlo Varro talks about leaving fossil fuels in the past. Continue reading “Slowly but Surely, a Farewell to Fossil Fuels” »

Strength in Numbers: A Safety Net to Prevent Crises in the Global Economy

By IMFBlog

December 19, 2017

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

Walking on a safety net: countries need insurance in bad economic and financial times (photo: Vivek Prakash/Newscom).

If you are lucky, when the going gets tough, you have a group of people you can rely on to help you through a crisis. Countries are no different—a safety net to help them in bad economic and financial times can make the difference in peoples’ lives.   Continue reading “Strength in Numbers: A Safety Net to Prevent Crises in the Global Economy” »

Propping Up the Chinese Economy: Credit versus Fiscal Stimulus

By Sophia Chen and Lev Ratnovski

December 13, 2017

Version in 中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish), 日本語  (Japanese)

Construction work Qingyuan , Guangdong, China : Fiscal stimulus is a powerful tool for growth (photo: Imagine China/Newscom).

Credit booms are addictive. Credit supports growth and the perception of wealth. Yet credit booms are risky, and are often followed by financial busts and economic slowdowns. The challenge is taming credit without hurting growth. Continue reading “Propping Up the Chinese Economy: Credit versus Fiscal Stimulus” »

Chart of the Week: The Walking Debt: Resolving China’s Zombies

By IMFBlog

December 11, 2017

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

IMF research shows that resolving China’s zombie firms can boost productivity and long-term growth prospects (photo: DNY59/iStock by Getty Images).

China’s “zombies” are non-viable firms that are adding to the country’s rising corporate debt problem, and are bad business. Zombie firms are highly indebted and incur persistent losses, but continue to operate with the support of local governments or soft loans by banks—adding very little value to economic prospects. China has already made a lot of progress in resolving these firms, and should continue its efforts to send the zombies packing. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: The Walking Debt: Resolving China’s Zombies” »

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