Global Economy: Good News for Now but Trade Tensions a Threat

By Maurice Obstfeld

April 17, 2018

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

Container ship in Colombo, Sri Lanka: the recent escalating tensions over trade present a growing risk to the global economy (photo: STRINGER/REUTERS/Newscom).

The world economy continues to show broad-based momentum. Against that positive backdrop, the prospect of a similarly broad-based conflict over trade presents a jarring picture.

Three months ago, we updated our global growth forecast for this year and next substantially, to 3.9 percent in both years. That forecast is being borne out by continuing strong performance in the euro area, Japan, China, and the United States, all of which grew above expectations last year. We also project near-term improvements for several other emerging market and developing economies, including some recovery in commodity exporters. Continuing to power the world economy’s upswing are accelerations in investment and, notably, in trade. Continue reading “Global Economy: Good News for Now but Trade Tensions a Threat” »

An Even-handed Approach to Crypto-Assets

By Christine Lagarde

April 16, 2018

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

Healthcare companies are studying how to use the technology behind crypto assets to maintain confidential medical data (BSIphotos/Newscom).

The dizzying gyrations of crypto-assets such as Bitcoin invite comparisons with the tulip mania that swept Holland in the 17th century and the recent dot-com bubble. With more than 1,600 crypto-assets in circulation, it seems inevitable that many will not survive the process of creative destruction.

In my blog last month, I looked at the dark side of crypto-assets, including their potential use for money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Here, I want to examine the promise they offer. A judicious look at crypto-assets should lead us to neither crypto-condemnation nor crypto-euphoria. Continue reading “An Even-handed Approach to Crypto-Assets” »

Risky Business: Reading Credit Flows for Crisis Signals

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. Continue reading “Risky Business: Reading Credit Flows for Crisis Signals” »

For Home Prices in London, Check the Tokyo Listings

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. Continue reading “For Home Prices in London, Check the Tokyo Listings” »

Wanted: Policies to Encourage and Enable Work in Advanced Economies

By Francesco Grigoli, Zsóka Kóczán, and Petia Topalova

April 9, 2018 

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

Aging may slow economic growth in advanced economies (photo: Zero Creatives Cultura/Newscom).

Population growth in advanced economies is slowing, life expectancy is rising, and the number of elderly people is soaring. Because older workers participate less in the labor market, the aging of the population could slow growth and, in many cases, threaten the sustainability of social security systems. But, as our research in Chapter 2 of the April 2018 World Economic Outlook shows, there is considerable scope for policies to mitigate the forces of aging by enabling those who are willing to work to do so. Continue reading “Wanted: Policies to Encourage and Enable Work in Advanced Economies” »

Globalization Helps Spread Knowledge and Technology Across Borders

By Aqib Aslam, Johannes Eugster, Giang Ho, Florence Jaumotte, Carolina Osorio-Buitron, and Roberto Piazza

April 9, 2018

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

Using artificial intelligence at a hospital in Qingdao, China: the spread of knowledge and technology between countries has intensified (photo: Sipa Asia/Sipa USA/Newscom).

It took 1,000 years for the invention of paper to spread from China to Europe. Nowadays, in a world that has become more integrated, innovations spread faster and through many channels.

Our research in Chapter 4 of the April 2018 World Economic Outlook takes a closer look at how technology travels between countries. We find that the spread of knowledge and technology across borders has intensified because of globalization. In emerging markets, the transfer of technology has helped to boost innovation and productivity even in the recent period of weak global productivity growth. Continue reading “Globalization Helps Spread Knowledge and Technology Across Borders” »

Managing Debt Vulnerabilities in Low-Income and Developing Countries

By Tao Zhang

March 22, 2018

Versions in Português (Portuguese)  

Congested streets in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In a third of low-income countries, including Bangladesh, government deficits finance investment in much needed infrastructure (photo: Motoya Taguchi/Jiji Press/Newscom).

Government debt in some of the world’s poorest countries is rising to risky levels, a new IMF report shows. The report looks at economic developments and prospects among the world’s low-income countries, which account for a fifth of the world’s population but only four percent of global output. Continue reading “Managing Debt Vulnerabilities in Low-Income and Developing Countries” »

Addressing the Dark Side of the Crypto World

By Christine Lagarde

March 13, 2018

Versions in  عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Français (French),  baˈhasa indoneˈsia (Indonesian),  日本語 (Japanese), Português (Portuguese), Русский (Russian)

The same reason crypto-assets like Bitcoin are so appealing is also what makes them dangerous (iStock by GettyImages).

Whether Bitcoin’s value goes up or Bitcoin’s value goes down, people around the world are asking the same question: What exactly is the potential of crypto-assets?

The technology behind these assets—including blockchain—is an exciting advancement that could help revolutionize fields beyond finance. It could, for example, power financial inclusion by providing new, low-cost payment methods to those who lack bank accounts and in the process empower millions in low-income countries. Continue reading “Addressing the Dark Side of the Crypto World” »

Beware of Strike-it-Rich Euphoria: the Curse of Potential Oil Wealth

By IMFBlog

March 9, 2018

(photo: Nielubieklonu/iStock).

The resource curse, or paradox of plenty, is when countries with an abundance of natural resources suffer stagnant economic growth or even contraction.

In this podcast, World Bank economist James Cust, says the problem of eradicating extreme poverty is going to be about how resource-rich countries manage their resource wealth. Continue reading “Beware of Strike-it-Rich Euphoria: the Curse of Potential Oil Wealth” »

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” »

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