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.

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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. (more…)

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.

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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.  (more…)

Productivity, Technology, and Demographics

By IMFBlog

May 5, 2017

Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, says that if technology cannot boost productivity, then we are in real trouble.

In a podcast interview, Varian says thirty years from now, the global labor force will look very different, as working age populations in many countries, especially in advanced economies, start to shrink. While some workers today worry they will lose their jobs because of technology, economists are wondering if it will boost productivity enough to compensate for the shifting demographics—the so-called productivity paradox.

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Chart of the Week: The Cost of Asia’s Aging

By IMFBlog

May 1, 2017

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), Bahasa (Indonesia), and 本語 (Japanese) 

When it comes to tackling demographic change in Asia, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for policymakers. In some countries, like Japan, the population is aging rapidly, and the labor force is shrinking. In others, like the Philippines, young people are flooding the job market in search of work.

As our chart shows, the impact of aging could potentially drag down Japan’s average annual GDP growth by 1 percentage point over the next three decades. While in India and the Philippines, which have some of the youngest populations in the region, a growing workforce could potentially increase GDP by that same amount. (more…)

Chart of the Week: Sharing the Fruits of Growth

By IMFBlog

At last week’s Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, economists and policymakers discussed ways to maintain the momentum of the global economic expansion—while also ensuring that the fruits of growth are shared more widely within their countries. Fiscal policy—government’s ability to tax and spend—has an important role to play.

The effectiveness of fiscal policy in mitigating inequality varies widely by country, as seen in our Chart of the Week. The chart shows the redistribution effect of fiscal policy before and after taxes, as measured by the change in the Gini coefficient. A Gini of zero expresses perfect equality, while a Gini of one expresses maximum inequality. (more…)

Global Financial Stability Improves; Getting the Policy Mix Right to Sustain Gains

By Tobias Adrian

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

The world’s financial system has become safer and more stable since our last assessment six months ago. Economic activity has gained momentum. The outlook has improved and hopes for reflation have risen. Monetary and financial conditions remain highly accommodative. And investor optimism over the new policies under discussion in the United States has boosted asset prices. These are some of the conclusions of the IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report

But it’s important for governments in the United States, Europe, China and elsewhere to follow through on investor expectations by adopting the right mix of policies. This means preventing fiscal imbalances, resisting calls for higher trade barriers, and maintaining global cooperation on regulations needed to make the financial system safer. (more…)

Global Economy Gaining Momentum—For Now

By Maurice Obstfeld

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

Momentum in the global economy has been building since the middle of last year, allowing us to reaffirm our earlier forecasts of higher global growth this year and next. We project the world economy to grow at a pace of 3.5 percent in 2017, up from 3.1 percent last year, and 3.6 percent in 2018. Acceleration will be broad based across advanced, emerging, and low-income economies, building on gains we have seen in both manufacturing and trade.

Our new projection for 2017 in the April World Economic Outlook is marginally higher than what we expected in our last update. This improvement comes primarily from good economic news for Europe and Asia, as well as our continuing expectation for higher growth this year in the United States.

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The Hollowing Out of Middle-Skilled Labor Share of Income

By Mai Dao, Mitali Das, Zsoka Koczan, and Weicheng Lian

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

Imagine how a typical factory today operates in many advanced economies. There are no longer many workers lined up along assembly belts. Instead, there are only a few of them—mostly likely engineers—looking at screens of highly sophisticated equipment that does the assembly once done by humans. With technological advancement constantly driving down the cost of capital, firms are increasingly replacing workers with machines.

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