Basic economic theory tells us that capital should flow from slow-growing rich countries to faster-growing poor ones in search of higher returns. A decade ago, our former Research Department colleagues Eswar Prasad, Raghuram Rajan, and Arvind Subramanian examined why the reverse had been true—capital generally flowed “uphill” from poorer to richer countries. Building on the seminal work of Robert Lucas, they argued that certain characteristics of poorer countries, such as weaker institutions and lower levels of education, may reduce the risk-adjusted returns to investing there. (more…)
Deep unease about rising inequality and stagnating living standards in advanced economies was at the heart of the 2016 political upheaval. Globalization and trade have been blamed, but entrenched slow growth—what economists call secular stagnation—may be the real culprit. Parents who took for granted that their children would enjoy a brighter future had their dreams dashed by the global financial crisis of 2008. Nine years later, rising populism and a return to nationalist, inward-looking policies threaten to unravel the postwar economic order. (more…)
Did you know that while many people in advanced economies have multiple bank accounts, there are barely two bank accounts for every ten people in low-income economies? Access to financial services is essential to spread the fruits of economic growth to all, not just to the fortunate few. (more…)
Policymakers need good data to help them make good decisions.
Ravi Kanbur says producing statistics on inequality is never just a technical act; it has political consequences. Kanbur is a Professor of Economics at Cornell University and delivered the keynote speech at the Fourth IMF Statistical Forum on Statistics for Inclusive Growth.
By Rabah Arezki
Agriculture and food markets are plagued with inefficiencies that have dramatic consequences for the welfare of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Globally, farm subsidies amount to over $560 billion a year—equivalent to nearly four times the aid given to developing countries by richer ones. Major emerging-market nations have increased subsidies rapidly, even as rich nations cut theirs drastically. Meanwhile, tariffs on farm products remain a major point of contention in global trade talks.
One third of global food production goes to waste, while food insecurity is still rampant in developing countries. Even with the explosion of agricultural productivity since the middle of the 20th century, food security remains a challenge for much of the developing world. Food-calorie production will have to expand by 70 percent by 2050 to keep up with a global population that’s forecast to grow to 9.7 billion from last year’s 7.3 billion. Food insecurity can lead to violence and conflicts that can spill over well beyond borders. (more…)
Low-income countries should build more infrastructure to strengthen growth. A new IMF analysis looks at ways to overcome obstacles.
The clock is now ticking on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and while investment—critical to this agenda—has been rising in recent years among low-income countries, weak infrastructure is still hampering growth. Governments need to make significant improvements to lay foundations for flourishing economies: roads to connect people to markets, electricity to keep factories running, sanitation to stave off disease, and pipelines to deliver safe water. (more…)
In December 2016, the U.S. Fed raised interest rates for the first time in a year, and said they planned more increases in 2017. Emerging market currencies took a bit of a dive, but overall investors didn’t overreact and run for the doors with their money. For the bigger picture, you can read IMF Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld’s blog that outlines how the U.S. election and Fed decision will impact the global economy. (more…)
After a year marked by financial turbulence, political surprises, and unsteady growth in many parts of the world, the Fed’s decision this month to raise interest rates for just the second time in a decade is a healthy symptom that the recovery of the world’s largest economy is on track.
The Fed’s action was hardly a surprise: markets had for weeks placed a high probability on last week’s move. But market developments preceding the Fed decision did surprise many market watchers. (more…)
The link between jobs and economic growth is not always a straight line for countries, but that doesn’t mean it’s broken.
Economists track the relationship between jobs and growth using Okun’s Law, which says that higher growth leads to lower unemployment.
New research from the IMF looks at Okun’s Law and asks, based on the evidence, will growth create jobs? The findings show a striking variation across countries in how employment responds to GDP growth over the course of a year. (more…)
In the midst of the Great Depression, the American economist Irving Fisher warned of the dangers of excessive debt and the deflationary pressures that follow on its tail. He saw debt and deflation as the big, bad actors. Now, their close relatives—too high debt and too low inflation—are still in play, at least for advanced economies.