How Flexible Exchange Rates Helped Latin America Adjust to Commodity Price Shocks

By Yan Carrière-Swallow, Nicolás Magud, and Juan Yépez

May 25, 2017

Versions in Português (Portuguese), and Español (Spanish)

(photo: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters/Newscom)

As world prices for Latin America’s key exports—oil, metal, and agricultural products—fell from their super-cycle peak in 2011 and demand from trading partners weakened, export revenues have dropped sharply. Across most of South America, export revenues have fallen by one-third, and by more than half in the case of Venezuela. The size of these shocks has been historic in some cases, ranking among the largest trade price busts faced by emerging economies around the world since 1960. (more…)

Beheading the Hydra: How the IMF Fights Corruption

By Alistair Thomson 

May 18, 2017 

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

Corruption drains public resources and drags down economic growth in multiple ways (photo: dareknie/iStock by Getty Images)

Corruption—the abuse of public office for private gain—is a many-headed monster. It is pervasive in many countries, but only a fraction of cases make headlines; fewer are successfully prosecuted. Yet the cumulative burden is massive. By some estimates, bribery alone amounts to $1 trillion each year, and corruption more broadly to much more. While the precise figures are the subject of debate, the importance of the problem is not. (more…)

A New Twist in the Link Between Inequality and Economic Development

By Francesco Grigoli

May 11, 2017

Version in  عربي (Arabic),  Español (Spanish)

Much has been written about the relationship between inequality and economic development, but theory remains inconclusive. When income is more concentrated in the hands of a few individuals, this can lead to less demand by the general population and lower investment in education and health, impairing long-term growth. At the same time, a certain level of inequality endows the rich with the means to start businesses, and creates incentives to increase productivity and investment, promoting economic activity. But the initial inequality levels also matter to explain why an increase in inequality varies in its impact on economic development across countries.

(more…)

Chart of the Week: Conflict’s Legacy for Growth

By IMFBlog

Versions in عربي (Arabic)

May 8, 2017

Conflict has been on the rise since the early 2000s given the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

 Conflict leads not only to immeasurable human costs, but also to substantial economic losses with consequences that can persist for years. The tragic rise in conflict has weighed on global GDP growth in recent years, given the increasing number of countries experiencing strife, the severe effect on economic activity, and the considerable size of some of the affected economies.

The IMF’s most recent World Economic Outlook (Box 1.1) takes a closer look through the lens of conflict’s impact on economic growth and migration.  (more…)

Productivity, Technology, and Demographics

By IMFBlog

May 5, 2017

Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, says that if technology cannot boost productivity, then we are in real trouble.

In a podcast interview, Varian says thirty years from now, the global labor force will look very different, as working age populations in many countries, especially in advanced economies, start to shrink. While some workers today worry they will lose their jobs because of technology, economists are wondering if it will boost productivity enough to compensate for the shifting demographics—the so-called productivity paradox.

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Chart of the Week: The Cost of Asia’s Aging

By IMFBlog

May 1, 2017

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), Bahasa (Indonesia), and 本語 (Japanese) 

When it comes to tackling demographic change in Asia, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for policymakers. In some countries, like Japan, the population is aging rapidly, and the labor force is shrinking. In others, like the Philippines, young people are flooding the job market in search of work.

As our chart shows, the impact of aging could potentially drag down Japan’s average annual GDP growth by 1 percentage point over the next three decades. While in India and the Philippines, which have some of the youngest populations in the region, a growing workforce could potentially increase GDP by that same amount. (more…)

Chart of the Week: Sharing the Fruits of Growth

By IMFBlog

At last week’s Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, economists and policymakers discussed ways to maintain the momentum of the global economic expansion—while also ensuring that the fruits of growth are shared more widely within their countries. Fiscal policy—government’s ability to tax and spend—has an important role to play.

The effectiveness of fiscal policy in mitigating inequality varies widely by country, as seen in our Chart of the Week. The chart shows the redistribution effect of fiscal policy before and after taxes, as measured by the change in the Gini coefficient. A Gini of zero expresses perfect equality, while a Gini of one expresses maximum inequality. (more…)

Five Keys to a Smart Fiscal Policy

By Vitor Gaspar and Luc Eyraud

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

We live in a world of dramatic economic change. Rapid technological innovation has fundamentally reshaped the way we live and work. International trade and finance, migration, and worldwide communications have made countries more interconnected than ever, exposing workers to greater competition from abroad. While these changes have brought tremendous benefits, they have also led to a growing perception of uncertainty and insecurity, particularly in advanced economies.

Today’s conditions require new, more innovative solutions, which the IMF calls smart fiscal policies. By smart policies we mean policies that facilitate change, harness its growth potential, and protect people who are hurt by it. At the same time, excessive borrowing and record levels of public debt have limited the financial resources available to government. So, fiscal policy must do more with less. Fortunately, researchers and policy makers are realizing that the fiscal tool kit is broader and the tools more powerful than they thought. Five guiding principles sketch the contours of these smart fiscal policies, which are described in chapter one of the IMF’s April 2017 Fiscal Monitor. (more…)

Global Financial Stability Improves; Getting the Policy Mix Right to Sustain Gains

By Tobias Adrian

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

The world’s financial system has become safer and more stable since our last assessment six months ago. Economic activity has gained momentum. The outlook has improved and hopes for reflation have risen. Monetary and financial conditions remain highly accommodative. And investor optimism over the new policies under discussion in the United States has boosted asset prices. These are some of the conclusions of the IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report

But it’s important for governments in the United States, Europe, China and elsewhere to follow through on investor expectations by adopting the right mix of policies. This means preventing fiscal imbalances, resisting calls for higher trade barriers, and maintaining global cooperation on regulations needed to make the financial system safer. (more…)

Chart of the Week: Seeking Solutions to Growing Inequality

By IMFblog

As finance ministers and central banks gather in Washington this week for the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank, income inequality will be among the topics of discussion.

While global economic integration has brought enormous benefits in the form of rising living standards, it has also contributed to widening inequality within some countries. In advanced economies, the incomes of the top 1 percent have grown three times faster than those of the rest of the population over the past three decades. (more…)

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