Managing Debt Vulnerabilities in Low-Income and Developing Countries

2018-04-03T15:10:22+00:00March 22nd, 2018|

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. (more…)

Adapting to Climate Change—Three Success Stories

2018-03-20T13:53:33+00:00March 20th, 2018|

By Evgenia Pugacheva and Mico Mrkaic

March 20, 2018

When governments subsidize private investment in adaptation, the economic costs of extreme weather events can be reduced (photo: Leolintang/iStock by Getty Images).

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing our planet. Its negative effects on health, the biosphere, and labor productivity are already being felt throughout the world. Aware of the danger, communities, households, and governments have started taking measures to reduce their exposures and vulnerability to weather shocks and climate change. Our study in the World Economic Outlook shows that public investment in adaptation can partially reduce the economic costs of severe weather events.   (more…)

A Framework for Currency Unions and IMF Lending

2018-03-27T09:28:17+00:00March 16th, 2018|

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. (more…)

Policy Actions to Sustain Growth and Guard Against Risks

2018-03-22T16:31:52+00:00March 15th, 2018|

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.

(more…)

Fintech Quiz: How Much Do You Know?

2018-03-12T12:51:13+00:00March 12th, 2018|

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. (more…)

Welfare Versus GDP: What Makes People Better Off

2018-03-07T14:57:14+00:00March 7th, 2018|

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. (more…)

The Euro Area Needs a Fiscal Union

2018-02-23T17:00:40+00:00February 21st, 2018|

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. (more…)

The Buzz of Populism and Its Pull on the Economy

2018-02-09T09:11:02+00:00February 9th, 2018|

By IMFBlog

February 9, 2018

(photo: Berkeley Review)

If you believe the economy can explain the rise of populism, political scientist Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser says it’s a bit more complicated than that.

“If you think about populist radical right parties in Western Europe, the party that gets the most votes is in Switzerland. And the economy in Switzerland is running perfectly!”

Populism has become a bit of a buzz word of late, and it was the subject of a seminar at the 2018 American Economic Association’s Annual Meeting. The IMF’s Antonio Spilimbergo organized the panel, which included Kaltwasser and economic stalwarts Dani Rodrik and Raghuram Rajan. (more…)

Countries in the IMF Financial Spotlight in 2018

2018-02-15T14:43:20+00:00January 31st, 2018|

By IMF Blog

January 31, 2018

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

Financial sector assessments are showing that countries and financial systems are adapting better methods to monitor financial vulnerabilities (photo: Ingram Publishing/Newscom).

The IMF in 2018 will complete ten assessments of countries’ financial systems, to identify risks and propose policies to strengthen their financial stability. Three of this year’s reviews will be for countries with Systemically Important Financial Systems : Belgium, Brazil and Poland. In addition, IMF experts will assess the euro area’s financial stability. Other financial stability assessments will cover Armenia, Jamaica, Namibia, Peru, Romania, and Tanzania.

(more…)

A Dream Deferred: Inequality and Poverty Across Generations in Europe

2018-02-02T12:31:24+00:00January 24th, 2018|

By Christine Lagarde

January 24, 2018

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

A young apprentice learns a trade in Palmela, Portugal: the right policies can help reduce inequality and poverty across generations in Europe (photo: Tim Brakemeier/DPA/Newscom).

The poet Langston Hughes once asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?” It is a relevant question to millions around the world today, especially young people, because of inequality and poverty.

This week IMF staff are launching new, European Union-focused research highlighting the impact of unemployment and the long-term consequences of inadequate social protection on the young. The study also explores ideas that can help fix the problem and reduce inequality and poverty for the next generation. (more…)

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