Policy Actions to Sustain Growth and Guard Against Risks

By Christine Lagarde

March 15, 2018

Even though the sun still shines on the global economy, there are more clouds on the horizon (iStock by GettyImages).

When the Group of Twenty finance ministers and central bank governors met last October, there was a sense of optimism about the global economic upswing and the opportunities for much-needed reforms.

When they meet again in Buenos Aires next week, their focus will be on the policies needed to protect this upswing against downside risks and bolster growth going forward.

The good news is that the growth momentum has continued to strengthen, involving three- quarters of the world economy.

Continue reading “Policy Actions to Sustain Growth and Guard Against Risks” »

Welfare Versus GDP: What Makes People Better Off

By Geoffrey Bannister and Alexandros Mourmouras

March 7, 2018

Oslo, Norway. In rich countries like Norway, that have greater life expectancy, more leisure, and lower inequality, measured well-being is higher than income (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

For years, economists have worked to develop a way of measuring general well-being and comparing it across countries. The main metric has been differences in income or gross domestic product per person. But economists have long known that GDP is an imperfect measure of well-being, counting just the value of goods and services bought and sold in markets.

The challenge is to account for non-market factors such as the value of leisure, health, and home production, such as cleaning, cooking and childcare, as well as the negative byproducts of economic activity, such as pollution and inequality. Continue reading “Welfare Versus GDP: What Makes People Better Off” »

Ending Harassment Helps #TheEconomyToo

By Christine Lagarde, Corinne Deléchat, and Monique Newiak

March 5, 2018

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

Women who live in countries with stronger protection against harassment, including at work, are more likely to open a bank account, borrow and save, and use financial services such as mobile payments (iStock by Getty Images).

This International Women’s Day is bringing new calls to #pressforprogress on gender parity. Giving women and girls the opportunity to succeed is not only the right thing to do—it can also transform societies and economies.

Unlocking this transformative potential means pushing for more equal opportunities: for example, equality in legal rights for men and women, and equality in access to education, health, and finance. Just as important is the fundamental issue of ensuring a safe environment for all, including protection against harassment. Continue reading “Ending Harassment Helps #TheEconomyToo” »

Chart of the Week: China’s Thrift, and What to Do About It

February 26, 2018

By IMFBlog

A pedestrian walks in front of a branch of the Postal Savings Bank of China in Nanjing. China’s saving rate is one of the world’s highest (photo: Imagine China/Newscom).

What makes China’s citizens so thrifty, and why does that matter for China and the rest of the world? The country’s saving rate, at 46 percent of GDP, is among the world’s highest. Households account for about half of savings, with corporations and the government making up the rest.

Saving is good, right? Up to a point. But too much saving by individuals can be bad for society. That’s because the flip side of high savings is low consumption and low household welfare. High savings can also fuel excessive investment, resulting in a buildup of debt in China. And because people in China save so much, they buy fewer imported goods than they sell abroad. That contributes to global imbalances, according to a recent IMF paper, China’s High Savings: Drivers, Prospects, and Policies. The country’s authorities are aware of the issue and are taking steps to address it. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: China’s Thrift, and What to Do About It” »

A Digital-Savvy Indonesia

By Tidiane Kinda and Ting Yan

February 22, 2018

Version in  中文 (Chinese), baˈhasa indoneˈsia (Indonesian)

A salesperson shows a customer the latest smartphones in a showroom in Jakarta, Indonesia: the use of mobile internet services continues to grow rapidly in the country (photo: Beawhiharta/Reuters/ /Newscom).

With the third largest youth population in the world and 130 million active social media users, Indonesia is poised to become the biggest digital economy country in Southeast Asia. To fully embrace the digital opportunity, Indonesia must enhance its infrastructure and increase internet penetration to lift economic growth and productivity.

According to a McKinsey report, digitization could expand Indonesia’s economy by 10 percent of GDP and add 3.7 million jobs by 2025. Continue reading “A Digital-Savvy Indonesia” »

Sub-Saharan Africa: Diversifying for Tomorrow

By IMFBlog

February 16, 2018

Photo: iStock by Getty Images/subman

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa need to diversify their economies, and the region’s youth need to be at the heart of it, says Axel Schimmelpfennig.

Schimmelpfennig is head of the IMF team for Uganda, and a coauthor of a study that looks at the potential benefits of a stepped-up diversification agenda in sub-Saharan Africa.

In this podcast, Schimmelpfennig talks about the need for sub-Saharan Africa to increase productivity in areas like agriculture and manufacturing to become more competitive in the export market and allow for increasing wages. Continue reading “Sub-Saharan Africa: Diversifying for Tomorrow” »

Chart of the Week: Inequality, Your Health, and Fiscal Policy

By Mercedes García-EscribanoBaoping Shang, and Emmanouil (Manos) Kitsios

February 5, 2018 

 Catania Sicily, Italy.  Men with a lower level of education live shorter lives, on average, than their better educated fellow citizens (photo: Jann Huizenga/Getty Images/IStock).

The gap in life expectancy between rich and poor people is a worldwide phenomenon, and has grown dramatically in recent years in some countries. 

In our Chart of the Week, we show how this longevity gap, which reflects inequality in access to health care and its impact on peoples’ overall health, varies across countries. Men with a lower level of education live shorter lives, on average, than their better educated fellow citizens: this gap ranges from four years in Italy, to 14 years in Hungary, according to the October 2017 Fiscal Monitor. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Inequality, Your Health, and Fiscal Policy” »

South Africa’s Lesetja Kganyago: Fintech Is a Central Banker’s Friend

By IMFBlog

January 26, 2018 

Lesetja Kganyago, South Africa’s Central Bank Governor and Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (photo: IMF staff).

While central bankers are often seen as somewhat traditionalist, South Africa’s Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago is breaking that mold. Kganyago sees how new technology—or fintech—is transforming the financial sector, and in this podcast, he says there is no turning back. Continue reading “South Africa’s Lesetja Kganyago: Fintech Is a Central Banker’s Friend” »

No Roads? No Problem: The Leapfrogging Drones of Rwanda

By IMFBlog

January 12, 2018

Zipline drone on a launch pad at operations center in Muhanda, Rwanda. (photo: James Akena/Reuters/Newscom).

What’s the best solution to a lack of infrastructure? Find a solution that doesn’t require infrastructure. That’s what Zipline has done in Rwanda—a start-up that deploys drones to make emergency medical deliveries to remote hospitals and clinics.

“Obviously in instances where Zipline can make a delivery to a place that wouldn't otherwise be reachable by roads, that's a good example of leapfrogging over the absence of infrastructure,” Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo said. Continue reading “No Roads? No Problem: The Leapfrogging Drones of Rwanda” »

The Art in Artificial Intelligence: Make the Robots Serve the Public Good

By Brian McNeill

January 11, 2018

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

Artificial intelligence can create a roadmap for future opportunities if utilized appropriately (photo: monsitj/iStock by Getty Images).

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence has rapidly matured as a viable field of technology. Machines that learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and perform tasks once uniquely the domain of humans, have entered our daily lives in ways seen and unseen. Given the current breakneck pace of change and innovation, the question for governments and policymakers is how to harness the benefits of artificial intelligence, and not be trampled by the robot takeover of our nightmares. The answer is simple: make them work for us. Continue reading “The Art in Artificial Intelligence: Make the Robots Serve the Public Good” »

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