Bringing Down High Debt

By Vitor Gaspar and Laura Jaramillo

April 18, 2018

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

High debt makes governments’ financing vulnerable to sudden changes in market sentiment (photo: NYSE-LUCAS JACKSON-REUTERS Newscom).

Global debt hit a new record high of $164 trillion in 2016, the equivalent of 225 percent of global GDP. Both private and public debt have surged over the past decade. High debt makes government’s financing vulnerable to sudden changes in market sentiment. It also limits a government’s ability to provide support to the economy in the event of a downturn or a financial crisis.

Countries should use the window of opportunity afforded by the economic upswing to strengthen the state of their fiscal affairs. The April 2018 Fiscal Monitor explores how countries can reduce government deficits and debt in a growth-friendly way.

Continue reading “Bringing Down High Debt” »

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” »

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” »

The Economic Scars of Crises and Recessions

By Valerie Cerra and Sweta C. Saxena

March 21, 2018

Version in  日本語 (Japanese), Português  (Portuguese)

New study finds that all types of recessions lead to permanent losses in output and welfare (photo: Peshkov/iStock by GettyImages).

Economic recessions are typically described as short-term periods of negative economic growth. According to the traditional business cycle view, output moves up and down around its long-term upward trend and after a recession, it recovers to its pre-recession trend. Our new study casts doubt on this traditional view and shows that all types of recessions—including those arising from external shocks and small domestic macroeconomic policy mistakes—lead to permanent losses in output and welfare. Continue reading “The Economic Scars of Crises and Recessions” »

A Framework for Currency Unions and IMF Lending

By Sean Hagan and Hugh Bredenkamp

March 16, 2018

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

New guidance approved by the IMF represents an important step in how the Fund supports members of currency unions undertaking adjustment (photo: IMF).

Countries benefit in various ways from belonging to a currency union—a group of countries that share a single currency. Businesses can trade and invest across borders more easily. Member countries gain access to larger markets without facing currency risk. And in some circumstances, currency unions can help support their members when they are hit by external shocks. Continue reading “A Framework for Currency Unions and IMF Lending” »

The Euro Area Needs a Fiscal Union

By Helge Berger, Giovanni Dell’Ariccia, and Maurice Obstfeld

February 21, 2018

Version in Français (French) 

Without more tangible elements of a fiscal union, the euro area will remain fundamentally vulnerable to shocks. (photo: iStock by GettyImages) .

The euro area is experiencing a robust recovery, but the architecture supporting Europe’s currency union remains incomplete and leaves the region vulnerable to future financial crises.

While substantial progress has been made to address some architectural issues—conditional lending facilities and key elements of a banking union—we argue in our recent paper that the euro area needs to build elements of a common fiscal policy, including more fiscal risk sharing, to preserve financial and economic integration and stability. Without some degree of fiscal union, the region will continue to face existential risks that policymakers should not ignore. While this is not a new topic, the current favorable economic climate might be the moment to advance the discussion—and the chance to strengthen the euro area. Continue reading “The Euro Area Needs a Fiscal Union” »

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”” »

Weak Productivity: The Role of Financial Factors and Policies

By Romain Duval, Giuseppe Nicoletti, and Fabrizio Zampolli

January 8, 2018

Auto worker in Mexico: weak productivity has been a problem even before the global financial crisis (photo: Henry Romero/Newscom).

Almost ten years after the onset of the global financial crisis productivity growth remains anaemic in advanced economies despite very easy monetary conditions, casting doubts on the sustainability of the cyclical recovery. The productivity slowdown started well before the crisis, which then amplified the problem. To what extent can this slowdown be ascribed to policies and financial factors, including loose monetary policy prior to 2008, corporate and bank balance sheet vulnerabilities, and the exceptional monetary and financial policy responses to the crisis? Continue reading “Weak Productivity: The Role of Financial Factors and Policies” »

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