New Data on Global Debt

2019-01-02T08:16:50+00:00January 2, 2019|

January 2, 2019

Pedestrians in the snow in Tokyo, Japan: the country is one of the top three borrowers in the world (photo: Morio Taga/Newscom)


Until recently, we had a partial view of global debt. Our new update to the IMF’s Global Debt Database, first made public in May 2018, now fills even more of the gaps. We have compiled data on public and private debt for 190 countries, dating back to 1950, which now includes the latest numbers for 2017.

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Economic Preparedness: The Need for Fiscal Space

2018-06-27T15:03:10+00:00June 27, 2018|

By Vikram Haksar, Marialuz Moreno-Badia, Catherine Pattillo and Murtaza Syed

June 27, 2018

Versions in عربي中文Baˈhasa indoneˈsia,  日本語Português

Countries must assess the amount of room in their budgets for increasing spending or cutting taxes (photo: Martin Barraud/iStock by Getty Images)

How much leeway national policymakers have for increasing spending or cutting taxes has been hard to assess. (more…)

Mounting Debt Threatens Sustainable Development Goals

2018-05-01T14:16:58+00:00April 27, 2018|

By Chris Lane and Elliott Harris

April 27, 2018

Versions in baˈhasa indoneˈsia(Indonesian), Español (Spanish), Français (French), Português (Portuguese)

A market in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: some developing countries are falling behind when it comes to incomes (photo: Dumont Bildarchiv/Newscom).

In 2015, 193 countries adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an overarching policy roadmap through 2030. These goals are predicated on the idea that for a sustainable future, economic growth must go hand-in-hand with social inclusion and protection of the environment.

Our respective institutions, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fully support these goals. From the UN perspective, they represent a down payment on a more peaceful, prosperous, and cooperative world, especially in increasingly perilous times. For the IMF, they help underpin economic stability and sustainable and inclusive economic growth. (more…)

Managing Debt Vulnerabilities in Low-Income and Developing Countries

2018-04-03T15:10:22+00:00March 22, 2018|

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. (more…)

The Struggle to Manage Debt

2018-03-01T11:32:50+00:00March 1, 2018|

By Christoph Rosenberg

March 1, 2018

Good economic times offer an opportunity to tackle budget deficits

The global economy has a spring in its step. Growth is picking up, and we at the IMF have been ratcheting up our forecasts. Government coffers are filling and, with more people at work, demand for public social support is receding. The fiscal woes of the past decade seem behind us.

But this sunny perspective ignores debt levels that remain close to historic highs and the inevitable end of the cyclical upswing. Estimates of underlying growth potential have hardly budged, and interest rates—the cost of servicing all this debt—are starting to rise, which will eventually make it harder to refinance bonds and loans. (more…)

No Roads? No Problem: The Leapfrogging Drones of Rwanda

2018-01-12T08:57:49+00:00January 12, 2018|

By IMFBlog

January 12, 2018

Zipline drone on a launch pad at operations center in Muhanda, Rwanda. (photo: James Akena/Reuters/Newscom).

What’s the best solution to a lack of infrastructure? Find a solution that doesn’t require infrastructure. That’s what Zipline has done in Rwanda—a start-up that deploys drones to make emergency medical deliveries to remote hospitals and clinics.

“Obviously in instances where Zipline can make a delivery to a place that wouldn't otherwise be reachable by roads, that's a good example of leapfrogging over the absence of infrastructure,” Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo said. (more…)

Top Ten Blogs of 2017

2017-12-28T12:53:16+00:00December 28, 2017|

By IMFBlog

December 28, 2017

Read the top ten blogs of 2017 (photo: Times Square- New York-Pacific Press/SipaUSA/Newscom)

We have all had quite the year. Our readers' interests in 2017 focused on topics that affect how people live their lives: why wages are low, rising income and wealth inequality, household debt, climate change, and the scourge of corruption, to name a few.

As we wrap up the highs and lows of 2017 and get ready for whatever 2018 has in store, here is the list of the top ten blogs of the year based on readership. From all the elves editors at IMFBlog, we wish you a year of peace and interesting reads.

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Taxes, Debt and Development: A One-Percent Rule to Raise Revenues in Africa

2018-01-17T10:58:19+00:00December 5, 2017|

By Vitor Gaspar and Abebe Aemro Selassie

December 5, 2017

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

School children in Ghana: building a country’s tax capacity helps pay for education and health care (photo: Vacca Sintesi/SIPA/Newscom).

Tax revenues play a critical role for countries to create room in their budgets to increase spending on social services like health and education, and public investment. At a time when public debt levels in sub-Saharan Africa have increased sharply, raising tax revenues is the most growth-friendly way to stabilize debt. More broadly, building a country’s tax capacity is at the center of any viable development strategy to meet the ongoing needs for expanding education and health care, and filling significant infrastructure gaps. (more…)

Understanding and Managing Financial Interdependence

2017-11-09T16:37:32+00:00November 8, 2017|

By Maurice Obstfeld

November 8, 2017

(photo: AlexLMX and David Hunt/iStock)

The 18th Annual Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference last week opened with Managing Director Christine Lagarde noting the ebb and flow of capital movements into emerging market and developing economies since the turn of the millennium. She asked three questions at the heart of the discussion, and to which speakers returned consistently during the conference: (more…)

Time to Act Now: It’s All About the Right Policy Mix

2017-11-03T09:30:56+00:00October 19, 2017|

By IMFBlog

October 19, 2017

"The road ahead is not an easy one,’’ the IMF’s Executive Directors wrote after the IMF’s first ever Annual meeting in 1946.’’ We do not underestimate the difficulties facing us.’’

More than 70 years later, we’ve encountered many a storm across continents from the Latin American sovereign debt crisis to the Savings and Loans crisis to the Asian crisis. And then there was the global financial crisis of 2008. (more…)

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