Our Digital Future

By Camilla Lund Andersen

May 30, 2018

“Money makes the world go around,” Liza Minnelli famously sang in the movie Cabaret. Money has for centuries been central to human relationships. Loss of faith in its value can result in economic and political instability, even war. In the past few years, financial technology—fintech for short—has caught the world’s imagination by offering alternatives to traditional means of payment. Will digitalization redefine money? In this issue, we explore the possible consequences, good and bad. Continue reading “Our Digital Future” »

Malta’s Good Bet

By IMFBlog

May 7, 2018

Marsaxlokk Harbor, Malta. Not only tourist paradise: the country’s economy makes profits on the betting and gambling industry (photo: iStockPhoto/Andrey Danilovich).

Known mostly for its azure seas and spectacular old towns, Malta has also become a hub for gambling and betting companies: nowhere else in the European Union does this sector account for such a large part of the economy as on the island south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. While the gambling and betting boom contributes to the country’s trade balance and job creation, it also draws attention to a skills shortage and infrastructure gaps the sector is grappling with, a recent IMF paper shows. Continue reading “Malta’s Good Bet” »

A Framework for Currency Unions and IMF Lending

By Sean Hagan and Hugh Bredenkamp

March 16, 2018

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

New guidance approved by the IMF represents an important step in how the Fund supports members of currency unions undertaking adjustment (photo: IMF).

Countries benefit in various ways from belonging to a currency union—a group of countries that share a single currency. Businesses can trade and invest across borders more easily. Member countries gain access to larger markets without facing currency risk. And in some circumstances, currency unions can help support their members when they are hit by external shocks. Continue reading “A Framework for Currency Unions and IMF Lending” »

Fintech Quiz: How Much Do You Know?

By IMFBlog

March 12, 2018

Rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the financial services landscape (iStock by Getty Images).

From artificial intelligence to cryptography, rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the financial services landscape, creating opportunities and challenges for consumers, service providers, and regulators alike. This new wave of technology is often called “fintech” and the industry is thriving. Consumers worldwide are using two or more fintech services, sometimes without knowing they are using fintech services. Continue reading “Fintech Quiz: How Much Do You Know?” »

The Euro Area Needs a Fiscal Union

By Helge Berger, Giovanni Dell’Ariccia, and Maurice Obstfeld

February 21, 2018

Version in Français (French) 

Without more tangible elements of a fiscal union, the euro area will remain fundamentally vulnerable to shocks. (photo: iStock by GettyImages) .

The euro area is experiencing a robust recovery, but the architecture supporting Europe’s currency union remains incomplete and leaves the region vulnerable to future financial crises.

While substantial progress has been made to address some architectural issues—conditional lending facilities and key elements of a banking union—we argue in our recent paper that the euro area needs to build elements of a common fiscal policy, including more fiscal risk sharing, to preserve financial and economic integration and stability. Without some degree of fiscal union, the region will continue to face existential risks that policymakers should not ignore. While this is not a new topic, the current favorable economic climate might be the moment to advance the discussion—and the chance to strengthen the euro area. Continue reading “The Euro Area Needs a Fiscal Union” »

The Current Economic Sweet Spot Is Not the “New Normal”

By Maurice Obstfeld

January 22, 2018

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

Global growth continues to pick up and is broad based. But no matter how tempting it is to sit back and enjoy the sunshine, policy can and should move to strengthen the recovery (photo: Mumbai, India, Ingram Publishing/Newscom).

As the year 2018 begins, the world economy is gathering speed. The new World Economic Outlook Update revises our forecast for the world economy’s growth in both 2018 and 2019 to 3.9 percent. For both years, that is 0.2 percentage points higher than last October’s forecast, and 0.2 percentage points higher than our current estimate of last year’s global growth. Continue reading “The Current Economic Sweet Spot Is Not the “New Normal”” »

Top Ten Charts of the Week: 2017

By IMFBlog

January 3, 2017

The top 10 charts of the week of 2017 help illuminate the uncharted waters ahead for the global economy  (photo: Kotka, Finland-Newspix24/SipaUS/Newscom).

In the Spring of 2017, 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 the top ten Charts of the Week of 2017, based on your readership. Continue reading “Top Ten Charts of the Week: 2017” »

More Action Needed on European Bank Profitability

By John Caparusso, Rohit Goel and Will Kerry

August 30, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish), Deutsche (German), Français (French)

A woman withdraws money from an automated teller machine in Italy: Some European banks have too many branches relative to assets (photo: Martin Moxter imageBROKER/Newscom)

European banking has made considerable progress in the past few years: Banks have built up capital, regulation is stronger and supervision has been enhanced. But profitability remains weak, posing risks for financial stability.

In a sample of more than 170 large European lenders with combined assets of $35 trillion, roughly half generated a weak return on equity in 2016, and banks representing only 15 percent of assets generated a healthy return on equity, defined as more than 10 percent. Weak profitability is also shown in a low return on assets for domestic banks in many European countries. The drivers of these weak returns reflect varying combinations of low income, high costs, or provisions needed to build buffers against non-performing assets.

Continue reading “More Action Needed on European Bank Profitability” »

Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe: Harnessing the Power of Good Governance

By Poul Thomsen

July 27, 2017

Dubrovnik, Croatia. Countries in the region should continue working on good governance for higher growth (photo: Album/Prisma/Newscom)

In many ways, Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is an incredible success story. In less than a generation, countries moved from centrally-planned economies to market-based ones—transforming their legal systems, public administrations, and economic policies, to name a few key elements. Yet, for the sake of higher growth in the future, countries need to continue enhancing institutions and good governance.

Enhancing institutions and good governance—the efficient governing of a country—remains at the core of the reform agenda to raise prosperity to advanced European living standards. Many countries have joined the European Union, a vital anchor toward these goals, and others are aspiring to join. Continue reading “Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe: Harnessing the Power of Good Governance” »

Chart of the Week: Brexit and The City

By IMFBlog

May 29, 2017

It seems likely that Brexit will alter the relationship that UK-based financial firms have with the European Union—even though negotiations are just beginning.

For an idea of how much is at stake for the United Kingdom’s financial services industry, take a look at our Chart of the Week, drawn from the IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report. The chart illustrates the linkages that might be affected by the country’s withdrawal from the EU. One example: of the over-the-counter trading in foreign exchange derivatives in the United Kingdom, Germany and France, the UK share comes to 89 percent. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Brexit and The City” »

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