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” »

Game-Changers and Whistle-Blowers: Taxing Wealth

By James Brumby and Michael Keen

February 13, 2018

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

New Delhi, India: there are now very few effective explicit wealth taxes in either developing or advanced economies (photo: Jens Kalaene/Corbis).

High and rising income inequality is a serious concern in many countries, as highlighted in the IMF’s recent Fiscal Monitor. Wealth, however, is distributed even more unequally than income, as in the picture below. Continue reading “Game-Changers and Whistle-Blowers: Taxing Wealth” »

Chart of the Week: Inequality, Your Health, and Fiscal Policy

By Mercedes García-EscribanoBaoping Shang, and Emmanouil (Manos) Kitsios

February 5, 2018 

 Catania Sicily, Italy.  Men with a lower level of education live shorter lives, on average, than their better educated fellow citizens (photo: Jann Huizenga/Getty Images/IStock).

The gap in life expectancy between rich and poor people is a worldwide phenomenon, and has grown dramatically in recent years in some countries. 

In our Chart of the Week, we show how this longevity gap, which reflects inequality in access to health care and its impact on peoples’ overall health, varies across countries. Men with a lower level of education live shorter lives, on average, than their better educated fellow citizens: this gap ranges from four years in Italy, to 14 years in Hungary, according to the October 2017 Fiscal Monitor. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Inequality, Your Health, and Fiscal Policy” »

Countries in the IMF Financial Spotlight in 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.

Continue reading “Countries in the IMF Financial Spotlight in 2018” »

5 Things You Need to Know About Inequality

By IMFBlog

January 23, 2018

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

A man with donations from a food bank in Los Angeles, California: inequality within countries is on the rise, including in advanced economies like the United States (photo: Lucy Nicholson/Newscom).

Tackling inequality is not only a moral imperative. It is critical for sustaining growth.

Global income inequality has declined in recent years, with the Gini index—a statistical measure of income distribution with a value of zero indicating perfect equality—dropping from 68 in 1988 to 62 in 2013, reflecting relatively strong growth in many emerging and developing economies, particularly in China and India. However, inequality has increased within many countries, including in many advanced economies. Continue reading “5 Things You Need to Know About Inequality” »

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”” »

Economic Growth and Fairness in the Middle East and North Africa

By Jihad Azour

January 18, 2018

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

The people of the region are rightly demanding economic growth and fairness.  The IMF aims to help them in this effort (photo: Tunis, Tunisia, ZOUBEIR SOUISSI/REUTERS/Newscom).

Rising social tensions and protests in several countries across the Middle East and North Africa are a clear indication that the aspirations of the people of the region—for opportunity, prosperity and equity—remain unfulfilled. Their frustration is understandable, and precisely because of that, it would be a mistake if the economic reform process currently underway were to be thrown into reverse. Continue reading “Economic Growth and Fairness in the Middle East and North Africa” »

Top Ten Blogs of 2017

By IMFBlog

December 28, 2017

Read the top ten blogs of 2017 (photo: Times Square- New York-Pacific Press/SipaUSA/Newscom)

We have all had quite the year. Our readers' interests in 2017 focused on topics that affect how people live their lives: why wages are low, rising income and wealth inequality, household debt, climate change, and the scourge of corruption, to name a few.

As we wrap up the highs and lows of 2017 and get ready for whatever 2018 has in store, here is the list of the top ten blogs of the year based on readership. From all the elves editors at IMFBlog, we wish you a year of peace and interesting reads.

Continue reading “Top Ten Blogs of 2017” »

Propping Up the Chinese Economy: Credit versus Fiscal Stimulus

By Sophia Chen and Lev Ratnovski

December 13, 2017

Version in 中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish), 日本語  (Japanese)

Construction work Qingyuan , Guangdong, China : Fiscal stimulus is a powerful tool for growth (photo: Imagine China/Newscom).

Credit booms are addictive. Credit supports growth and the perception of wealth. Yet credit booms are risky, and are often followed by financial busts and economic slowdowns. The challenge is taming credit without hurting growth. Continue reading “Propping Up the Chinese Economy: Credit versus Fiscal Stimulus” »

Better thy Neighbor? Cross-border Effects of Fiscal Actions

By Patrick Blagrave, Giang Ho, Ksenia Koloskova, and Esteban Vesperoni

September 27, 2017

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

Domestic fiscal policies, such as public spending, can generate meaningful spillovers to neighboring countries (Photo: Ymgerman/iStock by GettyImages)

In the wake of the global financial crisis, fiscal stimulus was advocated widely to help mitigate the recession. The thinking at the time was that fiscal stimulus would be particularly effective because its impact on activity tends to be larger when demand falls short of supply and central banks keep interest rates low. This, in turn, would lead to larger positive cross-border effects—or spillovers—on other countries.

Continue reading “Better thy Neighbor? Cross-border Effects of Fiscal Actions” »

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