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” »

Transparency Pays: Emerging Markets Share More Data

By Sangyup Choi and Stephanie Medina Cas

July 7, 2017

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

On the move in Mexico City, Mexico: emerging market economies that are transparent with their data can lower their borrowing costs (photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters/Newscom)

If sunlight is the best disinfectant, as US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once famously said, can it also be a money maker? We have tried to quantify the financial gains from greater transparency that emerging market countries can achieve.

Continue reading “Transparency Pays: Emerging Markets Share More Data” »

Dealing with Sovereign Debt—The IMF Perspective

By Sean Hagan, Maurice Obstfeld, and Poul M. Thomsen

Versions in Français (French), Deutsch (German); ελληνικά (Greek), and Español (Spanish)

Debt is central to the functioning of a modern economy. Firms can use it to finance investments in future productivity. Households can use it to finance lumpy purchases, such as big consumer durables, or a home. Sometimes, however, firms’ investments do not pan out or a household’s main earner loses his or her job. Countries’ legal systems generally recognize that in these cases, debtors and creditors alike—along with society at large—may be better off if there is an orderly procedure for reorganizing debts.  Continue reading “Dealing with Sovereign Debt—The IMF Perspective” »

By | February 23rd, 2017|Debt Relief, Government, IMF, interest rates, Investment, Reform, structural reforms|

China Must Quickly Tackle its Corporate Debt Problems

By Joong Shik Kang and Wojciech S. Maliszewski

Version in 中文 (Chinese)

China urgently needs to tackle its corporate-debt problem before it becomes a major drag on growth in the world’s No. 2 economy. Corporate debt has reached very high levels and continues to grow. In our recent paper, we recommend that the government act promptly to adopt a comprehensive program that would sacrifice some economic growth in the short term while rapidly returning the economy to a sustainable growth path.

Continue reading “China Must Quickly Tackle its Corporate Debt Problems” »

The IMF is Not Asking Greece for More Austerity

By Maurice Obstfeld and Poul M. Thomsen

Versions in عربي (Arabic); Français (French); Deutsch (German); ελληνικά (Greek); and Español (Spanish)

Greece is once again in the headlines as discussions for the second review of its European Stability Mechanism (ESM) program are gaining pace. Unfortunately, the discussions have also spurred some misinformation about the role and the views of the IMF. Above all, the IMF is being criticized for demanding more fiscal austerity, in particular for making this a condition for urgently needed debt relief. This is not true, and clarifications are in order. Continue reading “The IMF is Not Asking Greece for More Austerity” »

By | December 12th, 2016|Debt Relief, Fiscal policy, IMF, International Monetary Fund|

Greece: Toward a Workable Program

poul-thomsen1By Poul M. Thomsen

Versions in عربي (Arabic), EspañolFrançais, and ελληνικά (Greek)

Having successfully pulled Greece from the brink last summer and subsequently stabilized the economy, the government of Alexis Tsipras is now discussing with its European partners and the IMF a comprehensive multi-year program that can secure a lasting recovery and make debt sustainable. While discussions continue, there have been some misperceptions about the International Monetary Fund’s views and role in the process. I thought it would be useful to clarify issues.

Continue reading “Greece: Toward a Workable Program” »

By | February 11th, 2016|Debt Relief, Government, IMF, International Monetary Fund|

Greece: Past Critiques and the Path Forward

IMG_0248By Olivier Blanchard

(Versions in DeutschEspañolFrançaisItalianoελληνικάРусский中文, 日本語عربي, and Português)

All eyes are on Greece, as the parties involved continue to strive for a lasting deal, spurring vigorous debate and some sharp criticisms, including of the IMF.

In this context, I thought some reflections on the main critiques could help clarify some key points of contention as well as shine a light on a possible way forward.

The main critiques, as I see them, fall under the following four categories:

  • The 2010 program only served to raise debt and demanded excessive fiscal adjustment.
  • The financing to Greece was used to repay foreign banks.
  • Growth-killing structural reforms, together with fiscal austerity, have led to an economic depression.
  • Creditors have learned nothing and keep repeating the same mistakes.

Continue reading “Greece: Past Critiques and the Path Forward” »

When Is Repaying Public Debt Not Of The Essence?

By Jonathan D. Ostry and Atish R. Ghosh

Financial bailouts, stimulus spending, and lower revenues during the Great Recession have resulted in some of the highest public debt ratios seen in advanced economies in the past forty years. Recent debates have centered on the pace at which to pay down this debt, with few questions being asked about whether the debt needs to be paid down in the first place.

A radical solution for high debt is to do nothing at all—just live with it. Indeed, from a welfare economics perspective—abstracting from real world problems such as rollover risk—this would be optimal. We explore this issue in our recent work. While there are some countries where clearly debt needs to be brought down, there are others that are in a more comfortable position to fund themselves at exceptionally low interest rates, and that could indeed simply live with their debt (allowing their debt ratio to decline through growth or windfall revenues).

Continue reading “When Is Repaying Public Debt Not Of The Essence?” »

Smart Fiscal Policy Will Help Jobs

Vitor Gasparby Vitor Gaspar 

(version in EspañolFrançais中文Русский, and 日本語)

Unemployment remains unacceptably high in many countries. It increased dramatically during the Great Recession. Global unemployment currently exceeds 200 million people. An additional 13 million people are expected to be unemployed by 2018.

The most worrisome is youth unemployment. There are examples of advanced economies in Europe where youth unemployment surged above 50 percent. In several developing economies, job creation does not absorb the large number of young workers entering the labor force every year.

Continue reading “Smart Fiscal Policy Will Help Jobs” »

Emerging Market Corporate Sector Debt: A Stitch in Time Could Save Billions

By Julian Chow and Shamir Tanna

(Versions in Español)

Much has been said lately about growing private sector debt in emerging market economies. In our recent analysis, we examined the corporate sector in a number of countries and found their rising levels of debt could make them vulnerable.

Low global interest rates in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and ample amounts of money pouring in from foreign investors have enabled nonfinancial corporations to raise record levels of debt.

figure 1

Credit was readily available in the aftermath of the crisis, and economic expansion enabled earnings to grow healthily, thus helping to prevent leverage from rising too far and too fast.  Recently though, slowing growth prospects are beginning to put pressure on firms’ profitability. Moreover, higher debt loads have led to growing interest expense, despite low interest rates. As a result, the ability of firms to service their debt has weakened (Figure 1).

Continue reading “Emerging Market Corporate Sector Debt: A Stitch in Time Could Save Billions” »

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