The Wealth of Nations: Governments Can Better Manage What They Own and Owe

By Vitor Gaspar, Jason Harris, and Alexander Tieman

October 10, 2018

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A firefighter in Auckland, New Zealand: when governments know what they own they can put their assets to better use and can earn about 3 percent of GDP more in revenues to spend on citizens’ well being (Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/Newscom)

What is the state of your personal finances? You probably think first about your debts: your mortgage, your credit card balance, and your student loans. But you probably also think about how much cash is sitting in the bank, the value of your house, and the rest of your nest egg.

Surprisingly, most governments do not approach their finances this way. Continue reading “The Wealth of Nations: Governments Can Better Manage What They Own and Owe” »

A Decade After Lehman, the Financial System Is Safer. Now We Must Avoid Reform Fatigue

By Adolfo Barajas, Claudio Raddatz, and James P. Walsh

October 3, 2018

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A ticker in New York’s Times Square flashes the news of the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008: In the decade since, the financial sector has  strengthened considerably, but the reform agenda remains incomplete (Photo: Joshua Lott/Reuters/Newscom)

In the decade since the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers sparked the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression, regulation and supervision of the financial sector have been strengthened considerably. This has reduced the risk of another crisis, with all its attendant woes—unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies. But a new risk has emerged: reform fatigue. Continue reading “A Decade After Lehman, the Financial System Is Safer. Now We Must Avoid Reform Fatigue” »

Give Today’s Children a Chance

By  Christine Lagarde and Vitor Gaspar

September 24, 2018

عربي, 中文, Español, Français, Baˈhasa indoneˈsia, 日本語PortuguêsРусский

Children in early childhood education in Indonesia: more money put into education helps countries achieve their Sustainable Development Goals (Photo: Ajun-Ally/Pacific Press/Newscom)

World leaders are gathering at the United Nations to discuss how to deliver on development for all that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable—“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Continue reading “Give Today’s Children a Chance” »

Chart of the Week: Educate Girls and Women to Boost Equality

By IMFBlog

August 22, 2018

Versions in عربي,  中文Español,, Français,  日本語, Português

Schoolgirls in Valladolid, Mexico: Policies that focus on educating girls increase the likelihood that they will enter the labor force (photo: kertu_ee/iStock by Getty Images)

Government policies have boosted women’s participation in the work force. But women still make up a smaller percentage of the labor force than men in most countries. Of the many policies available, such as education and legal rights, which ones provide the most “bang for the buck” to reduce inequality between men and women? Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Educate Girls and Women to Boost Equality” »

Fiscal Rules: Make them Easy to Love and Hard to Cheat

By Xavier Debrun, Luc Eyraud, Andrew Hodge, Victor Lledo, Catherine Pattillo, Abdelhak Senhadji

April 13, 2018

Versions in Español (Spanish), Français (French),  Português  (Portuguese)

The national debt clock in New York City: a fiscal rule, like the debt ceiling, should not be set too low or too high. (photo: Frances M. Roberts/Newscom)

Rules to contain lavish government deficits are most effective if countries design them to be simple, flexible, and enforceable in the face of changing economic circumstances.

In new analysis, we look at fiscal rules in over 90 countries and, based on their experiences, find that the rules put in the place over the last three decades often were too complex, overly rigid, and difficult to enforce. Continue reading “Fiscal Rules: Make them Easy to Love and Hard to Cheat” »

Risky Business: Reading Credit Flows for Crisis Signals

By Claudio Raddatz Kiefer and Jérôme Vandenbussche 

April 10, 2018

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

The odds of a severe economic downturn are higher when a growing portion of credit flows to riskier firms, according to a new IMF study (Photo: Pali 137/ iStock by Getty Images).

Supervisors who monitor the health of the financial system know that a rapid buildup of debt during an economic boom can spell trouble down the road. That is why they keep a close eye on the overall volume of credit in the economy. When companies go on a borrowing spree, supervisors and regulators may decide to put the brakes on credit growth.

Trouble is, measuring credit volume overlooks an important question: how much of that additional money flows to riskier companies – which are more likely to default in times of trouble—compared with more creditworthy firms? The IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report seeks to fill that gap by constructing measures of the riskiness of credit allocation, which should help policy makers spot clouds on the economic horizon. Continue reading “Risky Business: Reading Credit Flows for Crisis Signals” »

Wanted: Policies to Encourage and Enable Work in Advanced Economies

By Francesco Grigoli, Zsóka Kóczán, and Petia Topalova

April 9, 2018 

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

Aging may slow economic growth in advanced economies (photo: Zero Creatives Cultura/Newscom).

Population growth in advanced economies is slowing, life expectancy is rising, and the number of elderly people is soaring. Because older workers participate less in the labor market, the aging of the population could slow growth and, in many cases, threaten the sustainability of social security systems. But, as our research in Chapter 2 of the April 2018 World Economic Outlook shows, there is considerable scope for policies to mitigate the forces of aging by enabling those who are willing to work to do so. Continue reading “Wanted: Policies to Encourage and Enable Work in Advanced Economies” »

Chart of the Week: Malaysia Needs More Women in the Workforce

By IMFBlog

April 2, 2018

Version in baˈhasa indoneˈsia (Indonesian)

Four students walk past a bank in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Policies like improving the quality of education can help the country increase the number of women in the workforce (photo: John Mulligan/iStock by Getty Images).

Malaysia, a country well on its way to achieving high income status, can increase the number of women in the labor force by implementing key labor market reforms. And the country should, because our research shows that more women in the workforce benefits the economy.  Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Malaysia Needs More Women in the Workforce” »

Managing Debt Vulnerabilities in Low-Income and Developing Countries

By Tao Zhang

March 22, 2018

Versions in Português (Portuguese)  

Congested streets in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In a third of low-income countries, including Bangladesh, government deficits finance investment in much needed infrastructure (photo: Motoya Taguchi/Jiji Press/Newscom).

Government debt in some of the world’s poorest countries is rising to risky levels, a new IMF report shows. The report looks at economic developments and prospects among the world’s low-income countries, which account for a fifth of the world’s population but only four percent of global output. Continue reading “Managing Debt Vulnerabilities in Low-Income and Developing Countries” »

Policy Actions to Sustain Growth and Guard Against Risks

By Christine Lagarde

March 15, 2018

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

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” »

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