Roads or Schools: A Critical Tradeoff

By Manoj Atolia, Bin Grace Li, Ricardo Marto, and Giovanni Melina

November 9, 2017 

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Low-income countries tend to spend less on schools than on roads as a share of GDP (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Roads or schools? It’s a question akin to the “guns or butter” choice that governments around the world confronted in the 20th century: How to spend a nation’s finite resources to produce the maximum benefit for its people.

In our recent IMF Working Paper, we find that low-income countries tend to spend less on schools than on roads as a share of GDP—even though investment in education may be a more pressing need in their societies. 

Continue reading “Roads or Schools: A Critical Tradeoff” »

Inequality: Fiscal Policy Can Make the Difference

By Vitor Gaspar and Mercedes Garcia-Escribano

 October 11, 2017

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Wealth and poverty side-by-side in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: inequality is rising within countries around the world (photo: Jean-Marc David/SIPA/Newscom). 

Income inequality among people around the world has been declining in recent decades. This is due to countries like China and India’s incomes catching-up to advanced economies. But the news is not all good. Inequality within countries has increased, particularly in advanced economies. Since the global economic recovery has gained pace and is now widespread, policymakers have a window of opportunity to respond with reforms that tackle inequality, and our new Fiscal Monitor shows how the right mix of fiscal policies can make the difference.

Continue reading “Inequality: Fiscal Policy Can Make the Difference” »

Financial Stability Improves, But Rising Vulnerabilities Could Put Growth at Risk

By Tobias Adrian

October 11, 2017

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

The headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany: To avoid causing market turbulence, central banks will have to clearly communicate their plans to gradually unwind crisis-era policies (photo: Caro/Sven Hoffman/Newscom).

It seems like a paradox. The world’s financial system is getting stronger, thanks to healthy economic growth, buoyant markets, and low interest rates. Yet despite these favorable conditions, dangers in the form of rising financial vulnerabilities are starting to loom. That is why policymakers should act now to keep those vulnerabilities in check. Continue reading “Financial Stability Improves, But Rising Vulnerabilities Could Put Growth at Risk” »

Inequality: Tools from the Old Masters to Help Today’s Policymakers

By Vitor Gaspar, Paolo Mauro, and Tigran Poghosyan

October 3, 2017

Unemployed day laborers in South Africa: the country has relatively high income, but also high inequality (photo: Rogan Ward/Newscom).

With inequality rising in many countries, policymakers need to choose the best fiscal policies that will help share the benefits of economic growth, and in so doing, make it more inclusive.

The early 20th century English economist Arthur Pigou, among others, saw economic welfare as influenced by both “the size of the national dividend” and “the way in which it is distributed among the members of the community.” Continue reading “Inequality: Tools from the Old Masters to Help Today’s Policymakers” »

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

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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?” »

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” »

Chart of the Week: Iceland’s Tourism Eruption

By IMFBlog

August 14, 2017

Tourists at Jokulsarlon iceberg lagoon in eastern Iceland. Tourism has become a pillar of the Nordic island’s economy (photo: Picture Alliance/Paul Mayall/Newscom).

Iceland’s tourist industry is burgeoning as adventure-seeking visitors flock to the rugged Nordic nation to partake in activities such as whale watching, ice climbing and spelunking.  

The number of foreign visitors to Iceland surged 40 percent to 1.8 million last year – dwarfing the island’s population of 335,000. This year, Keflavík airport expects another 27 percent increase, to 2.2 million, according to estimates cited in a recent study by IMF economist Uwe  Böwer. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Iceland’s Tourism Eruption” »

Latest Outlook for The Americas: Back on Cruise Control, But Stuck in Low Gear

By Alejandro Werner

July 25, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish), Português (Portuguese)

Shopping mall in Viña del Mar, Chile: Latin America is expected to recover gradually as most economies continue to face weak domestic demand (photo: Rodrigo Garrido/Newscom)

After disappointing growth over the past few years, economic activity in Latin America remains on track to recover gradually in 2017–18 as recessions in a few countries—notably Argentina and Brazil—are coming to an end. Our latest projections show the region growing by 1 percent in 2017 and 1.9 percent in 2018.

But amid low confidence, domestic demand continues to remain weak across most economies, and is expected to only recover slowly as actual output catches up to potential and internal sources of growth build strength, based on a decline in political and policy uncertainty across some major economies. Some countries in the region will need clear strategies to adjust further following a permanent loss in commodity revenues. Continue reading “Latest Outlook for The Americas: Back on Cruise Control, But Stuck in Low Gear” »

IMF Support for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

By Stefania Fabrizio, Roland Kpodar, and Chris Lane

July 19, 2017

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Schoolchildren in line in Mali: Reducing the large gap between men’s and women’s education in some low-income states is one of the 2030 goals which IMF advice can address (photo: Stringer/Reuters/Newscom)

Since the adoption of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, we at the IMF have supported countries to reach their goals through policy advice, training, and financial support. Results will accrue over time, and we already see some notable progress. Continue reading “IMF Support for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals” »

Chart of the Week: A Golden Aging for Vietnam?

By IMFBlog

July 17, 2017 

A worker in a silk factory in Dalat, Vietnam. Encouraging more women to join the workforce and shifting to higher productivity occupations will help the country overcome the impact of an aging population (photo: Gerhard Zwerger-Schoner/imageBroker/Newscom)

Vietnam’s demographic dividend is fast turning into a handicap.

For decades, working-age Vietnamese made up an expanding share of the population, boosting economic growth and helping to keep retirement and health spending in check. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: A Golden Aging for Vietnam?” »

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