The Disconnect Between Unemployment and Wages

By Gee Hee Hong, Zsoka Koczan, Weicheng Lian, Malhar Nabar

September 27, 2017

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

Demand for workers is rising, but pay is hardly catching up (photo: Shironosov/iStock).

Over the past three years, labor markets in many advanced economies have shown increasing signs of healing from the Great Recession of 2008-09. Yet, despite falling unemployment rates, wage growth has been subdued–raising a vexing question: Why isn’t a higher demand for workers driving up pay?

Our research in the October 2017 World Economic Outlook sheds light on the sources of subdued nominal wage growth in advanced economies since the Great Recession.  Understanding the drivers of the disconnect between unemployment and wages is important not only for macroeconomic policy, but also for prospects of reducing income inequality and enhancing workers’ security. Continue reading “The Disconnect Between Unemployment and Wages” »

The Unequal Burden of Rising Temperatures: How Can Low-Income Countries Cope?

By Sebastian Acevedo, Mico Mrkaic, Evgenia Pugacheva, and Petia Topalova

September 27, 2017

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

The Earth’s temperature is rising. This will shape the economic future of communities across the globe (photo: Leolintang/iStock by GettyImages).

The Earth’s temperature is rising and its climate is changing. The increase in temperatures will shape the economic future of communities and countries across the globe. All countries will feel the direct negative effects from unmitigated climate change. But as our research in Chapter 3 of the October 2017 World Economic Outlook shows, the effects of higher temperatures will not be equal everywhere and the brunt of the adverse consequences will be borne by those who can least afford it—low-income countries.  Continue reading “The Unequal Burden of Rising Temperatures: How Can Low-Income Countries Cope?” »

Better thy Neighbor? Cross-border Effects of Fiscal Actions

By Patrick Blagrave, Giang Ho, Ksenia Koloskova, and Esteban Vesperoni

September 27, 2017

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

Domestic fiscal policies, such as public spending, can generate meaningful spillovers to neighboring countries (Photo: Ymgerman/iStock by GettyImages)

In the wake of the global financial crisis, fiscal stimulus was advocated widely to help mitigate the recession. The thinking at the time was that fiscal stimulus would be particularly effective because its impact on activity tends to be larger when demand falls short of supply and central banks keep interest rates low. This, in turn, would lead to larger positive cross-border effects—or spillovers—on other countries.

Continue reading “Better thy Neighbor? Cross-border Effects of Fiscal Actions” »

Structural Reforms Give Biggest Help To Lagging Countries

By Angana Banerji and Christian Ebeke

September 22, 2017

Structural reforms can jumpstart productivity in countries with weaker initial productivity, and help them catch up with their peers (photo: The Palmer/iStock).

Labor and product market reforms, which make economies more efficient, can benefit all countries. But they are especially helpful in jumpstarting productivity in countries where productivity is weaker. This is good news as it implies that reforms are one route through which countries with lower per capita incomes can catch up with richer countries instead of persistently lagging behind: economic hardship is not destiny. Our new paper provides fresh arguments in favor of the often-difficult structural reforms. Continue reading “Structural Reforms Give Biggest Help To Lagging Countries” »

Corruption in Latin America: Taking Stock

By  David LiptonAlejandro Werner, Carlos Gonçalves

September 21, 2017 

Versions in Español (Spanish)  Português (Portuguese)

Systemic corruption drains public resources and drags down economic growth (photo: People Images/iStock).

Corruption continues to make headlines in Latin America. From a scheme to shelter assets leaked by documents in Panama, to the Petrobras and Odebrecht scandals that have spread beyond Brazil, to eight former Mexican state governors facing charges or being convicted, the region has seen its share of economic and political fallout from corruption. Latin Americans are showing increasing signs of discontent and demanding that their governments tackle corruption more aggressively.

Continue reading “Corruption in Latin America: Taking Stock” »

More Action Needed on European Bank Profitability

By John Caparusso, Rohit Goel and Will Kerry

August 30, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish), Deutsche (German), Français (French)

A woman withdraws money from an automated teller machine in Italy: Some European banks have too many branches relative to assets (photo: Martin Moxter imageBROKER/Newscom)

European banking has made considerable progress in the past few years: Banks have built up capital, regulation is stronger and supervision has been enhanced. But profitability remains weak, posing risks for financial stability.

In a sample of more than 170 large European lenders with combined assets of $35 trillion, roughly half generated a weak return on equity in 2016, and banks representing only 15 percent of assets generated a healthy return on equity, defined as more than 10 percent. Weak profitability is also shown in a low return on assets for domestic banks in many European countries. The drivers of these weak returns reflect varying combinations of low income, high costs, or provisions needed to build buffers against non-performing assets.

Continue reading “More Action Needed on European Bank Profitability” »

Off the Charts: Your Favorite 5 Charts

By IMFBlog

August 28, 2017

(photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Much as sailors use nautical charts to determine their location at sea, economists use charts to show who we are, where we are, and where we might be going.

In the Spring, we began our Chart of the Week feature on the blog: snapshots in time and over time of how economies work to help illuminate the uncharted waters ahead for the global economy.

Here are our top five charts of the week, based on readership:

Continue reading “Off the Charts: Your Favorite 5 Charts” »

Aging Japan Puts a Strain on the Financial System

By Gaston Gelos and Sònia Muñoz

August 10, 2017

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), 日本語 (Japanese)

Elderly shoppers in Tokyo’s Sugamo district: As Japan's population ages, demand for financial services shifts (photo: Issei Kato/Reuters/Newscom).

Japan’s population is shrinking and getting older, posing challenges to the nation’s financial system. How Japan copes could guide other advanced economies in Asia and Europe that are grappling with the same trends but are at an earlier phase of similar demographic developments.

Continue reading “Aging Japan Puts a Strain on the Financial System” »

Building Fiscal Institutions in Fragile States

By Katherine Baer, Sanjeev Gupta, Mario Pessoa

August 9, 2017

Version in Français (French)

A porter in the market in Kathmandu, Nepal: the country increased their tax revenues in recent years with the help of technical assistance (photo: Navesh Chitrakar/Newscom)

Fragile states face more obstacles to growth than most countries.  Their per-capita GDP is less than half of most other low-income countries, and their economies are more volatile.  Many are in conflict or going through a natural disaster, or just emerging from these.  Our study is based on 39 countries, and since completed, the number of fragile states has increased to 43. 

To grow, a country needs tax policies and tax administration, laws and institutions to formulate and execute a budget, and trained staff to implement fiscal policies, among other factors.  Our preliminary results show that fragile states that have received technical assistance, also have improved their fiscal performance.

Continue reading “Building Fiscal Institutions in Fragile States” »

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” »

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