The Global Expansion: Still Strong but Less Even, More Fragile, Under Threat

By Maurice Obstfeld

July 16, 2018

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The escalation of trade tensions is the greatest near-term threat to global growth (photo: wildpixel/Getty Images by iStock)

Amid rising tensions over international trade, the broad global expansion that began roughly two years ago has plateaued and become less balanced. Continue reading “The Global Expansion: Still Strong but Less Even, More Fragile, Under Threat” »

Our Digital Future

By Camilla Lund Andersen

May 30, 2018

“Money makes the world go around,” Liza Minnelli famously sang in the movie Cabaret. Money has for centuries been central to human relationships. Loss of faith in its value can result in economic and political instability, even war. In the past few years, financial technology—fintech for short—has caught the world’s imagination by offering alternatives to traditional means of payment. Will digitalization redefine money? In this issue, we explore the possible consequences, good and bad. Continue reading “Our Digital Future” »

Chart of the Week: Greenery and Prosperity

By João Tovar Jalles and Prakash Loungani

May 21, 2018

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Brandenburg, Germany: in three advanced economies—Germany, the United Kingdom, and France—emissions have fallen despite the increase in incomes (photo: Caro / Kaiser/Newscom).

Economic growth has traditionally moved in tandem with pollution. But can countries break this link and manage to grow while lowering pollution?

Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Greenery and Prosperity” »

Bringing Down High Debt

By Vitor Gaspar and Laura Jaramillo

April 18, 2018

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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” »

A Bumpy Road Ahead for the Global Financial System

By Tobias Adrian

April 18, 2018

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An unexpected increase in inflation could prompt the Federal Reserve and other central banks to raise interest rates faster than currently anticipated, roiling financial markets (photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom).

The current economic environment remains favorable, but short-term risks to global financial stability have increased in the past six months, as a result of a spike in stock-market volatility in February and continuing investor concerns about rising geopolitical and trade tensions. Looking ahead, the odds of a downturn remain elevated, and there’s even a small chance of a global economic contraction over the medium-term. Continue reading “A Bumpy Road Ahead for the Global Financial System” »

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

By Maurice Obstfeld

April 17, 2018

Versions in عربي (Arabic),  baˈhasa indoneˈsia (Indonesian), 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” »

Fiscal Rules: Make them Easy to Love and Hard to Cheat

By Xavier Debrun, Luc Eyraud, Andrew Hodge, Victor Lledo, Catherine Pattillo, Abdelhak Senhadji

April 13, 2018

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The national debt clock in New York City: a fiscal rule, like the debt ceiling, should not be set too low or too high. (photo: Frances M. Roberts/Newscom)

Rules to contain lavish government deficits are most effective if countries design them to be simple, flexible, and enforceable in the face of changing economic circumstances.

In new analysis, we look at fiscal rules in over 90 countries and, based on their experiences, find that the rules put in the place over the last three decades often were too complex, overly rigid, and difficult to enforce. Continue reading “Fiscal Rules: Make them Easy to Love and Hard to Cheat” »

The Digital Gamble: New Technology Transforms Fiscal Policy

By Vitor Gaspar and Geneviève Verdier

April 12, 2018

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Traffic in Singapore: the city uses digital technology for road pricing to manage road congestion congestion (photo: Kua Chee Siong/ SPH/Newscom)..

In Rwanda, digitally-monitored drones deliver blood supplies to hospitals. In Estonia, it takes five minutes to file taxes and 99 percent of government services are available online. Singapore was the first city to implement electronic road pricing to manage congestion. The world is becoming digital, and reliable, timely, and accurate information is available at the push of a button. Governments are following suit, using digital tools for tax and expenditure policy, public financial management, and public service delivery.  Continue reading “The Digital Gamble: New Technology Transforms Fiscal Policy” »

Risky Business: Reading Credit Flows for Crisis Signals

By Claudio Raddatz Kiefer and Jérôme Vandenbussche 

April 10, 2018

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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” »

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