Chart of the Week: A Storm by Any Other Name

By IMFBlog

June 19, 2017

Women look at destruction after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti ( photo: Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/TNS)

Hurricane season officially began June 1, and we can expect a busy season of damaging storms in the Atlantic, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s outlook.

Hurricanes are the leading cause of natural disasters in the Caribbean, making the region one of the most vulnerable in the world. Yet, only 62 percent of disasters caused by hurricanes have recorded data on economic damages, as the information is difficult to collect. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: A Storm by Any Other Name” »

Speed Limits for Financial Markets? Not So Fast

By IMFBlog

June 1, 2017

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (photo: Andrew Kelly/Reuters/Newscom)

On the afternoon of May 6, 2010, a financial tsunami hit Wall Street. Stunned traders watched as graphs on their computer screens traced the vertiginous 998-point plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which erased $1 trillion in market value in 36 minutes.

There was little in the way of fundamental news to drive such a dramatic decline, and stocks bounced back later that day. The event, quickly dubbed the “flash crash,” focused attention on the role of high-frequency trading and algorithms in amplifying market volatility.

Continue reading “Speed Limits for Financial Markets? Not So Fast” »

How Trade with China Boosts Productivity

By JaeBin Ahn and Romain Duval

May 24, 2017

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

Container port, Qingdao city, China. Trade with China has helped improve living standards in advanced economies through higher productivity (photo: Imagine China/Newscom)

Advocates of protectionist policies in advanced economies blame job losses on growing trade with China, and influential researchers have provided some empirical backing for their claims. Yet the benefits of trade with China are often overlooked. Among them is faster growth in productivity—the key driver of improved living standards. This suggests that rather than erecting new barriers to trade, advanced economies should continue to open up—while doing much more to help those who have lost their jobs to overseas competition. Continue reading “How Trade with China Boosts Productivity” »

Chart of the Week: Central and Eastern Europe Close the Gap

By IMFBlog

May 22, 2017

Version in Русский (Russian)

Most of the countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe will see their economies humming away at a strong growth rate in 2017. A measure of their success at fully utilizing their economic machine is the output gapthe difference between what the economy is currently producing, and what it can produce when it is at full capacity.

Our Chart of the Week from a recently published report on the Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European region shows how close these economies come to performing at full potential. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Central and Eastern Europe Close the Gap” »

Restarting the Growth Engine in Sub-Saharan Africa

By IMFBlog

May 19, 2017

Version in Français (French)

The IMF’s latest economic health check of sub-Saharan Africa shows that growth fell to its lowest level in 20 years.

In this podcast, the IMF African Department’s Celine Allard, who oversaw the report, says that this drop brought a halt to the 5 to 6 percent growth rate that was enjoyed in the last two decades. Some factors contributing to this slowdown are lower commodity prices, the devastation of a severe drought—exacerbating crop infestation and leading to a famine affecting some 20 million people—and political conflicts that affect trade.

Continue reading “Restarting the Growth Engine in Sub-Saharan Africa” »

Chart of the Week: Budget-friendly, Equitable Growth in France

By IMFBlog

May 15, 2017

Version in Français (French)

One need look no further than the national motto—liberté, égalité, fraternité—to understand that equality is an especially important concept in France. French policies play an important role in combating inequality. This is primarily achieved through a combination of minimum wage policies and an extensive tax and transfer system.

But these traditional equality-enhancing policies may have reached their limits as unemployment has become entrenched and budgets have been severely stretched. So, what are the best policies for a country weighing how to boost growth, lessen inequality, and minimize costs? It is not a zero sum game.

Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Budget-friendly, Equitable Growth in France” »

Every Woman Counts: Gender Budgeting in G7 Countries

By Christine Lagarde

May 13, 2017

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

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the G7 countries met in Bari, Italy, this weekend to consider global economic issues, including steps to maintain economic stability and improving gender equality as important agenda items.

Women’s economic empowerment has long been an international priority, of course. The G6—as it was then—was first created in 1975, a year named “International Women’s Year” by the United Nations to help more women worldwide realize their full potential. Mountain climber Junko Tabei masterfully demonstrated this potential when she became the first woman to conquer Mount Everest in that year. However, as the world dealt with the aftermath of the first oil shock and the end of the fixed exchange rate system, global economic stability and women’s empowerment were rarely part of the same conversation.

Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest and the “Seven Summits”—the highest mountains across seven continents (photo: John van Hasselt/Corbis/Getty Images)

How times have changed. Today, in discussions on the global economy, female economic empowerment is almost always on the agenda. Continue reading “Every Woman Counts: Gender Budgeting in G7 Countries” »

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.

Continue reading “A New Twist in the Link Between Inequality and Economic Development” »

The Economics of Trust

By IMFBlog

May 10, 2017

Trust in other people—the glue that holds society together—is increasingly in short supply in the United States and Europe, and inequality may be the culprit.

In surveys over the past 40 years, the share of Americans who say that most people can be trusted has fallen to 33 percent from about 50 percent. The erosion of trust coincides with widening disparities in incomes. Continue reading “The Economics of Trust” »

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.  Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Conflict’s Legacy for Growth” »

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