Structural Reforms Give Biggest Help To Lagging Countries

By Angana Banerji and Christian Ebeke

September 22, 2017

Structural reforms can jumpstart productivity in countries with weaker initial productivity, and help them catch up with their peers (photo: The Palmer/iStock).

Labor and product market reforms, which make economies more efficient, can benefit all countries. But they are especially helpful in jumpstarting productivity in countries where productivity is weaker. This is good news as it implies that reforms are one route through which countries with lower per capita incomes can catch up with richer countries instead of persistently lagging behind: economic hardship is not destiny. Our new paper provides fresh arguments in favor of the often-difficult structural reforms. Continue reading “Structural Reforms Give Biggest Help To Lagging Countries” »

Corruption in Latin America: Taking Stock

By  David LiptonAlejandro Werner, Carlos Gonçalves

September 21, 2017 

Versions in Español (Spanish)  Português (Portuguese)

Systemic corruption drains public resources and drags down economic growth (photo: People Images/iStock).

Corruption continues to make headlines in Latin America. From a scheme to shelter assets leaked by documents in Panama, to the Petrobras and Odebrecht scandals that have spread beyond Brazil, to eight former Mexican state governors facing charges or being convicted, the region has seen its share of economic and political fallout from corruption. Latin Americans are showing increasing signs of discontent and demanding that their governments tackle corruption more aggressively.

Continue reading “Corruption in Latin America: Taking Stock” »

Drifting Apart: Income Convergence in the Euro Area

A souvenir shop in Lisbon, Portugal: Income convergence in the euro area has slowed (Photo: Rafael Marchante/REUTERS/Newscom)

By Jeffrey Franks and Hanni Schölermann

September 13, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish), 語 (Japanese)

The experience of recent decades has challenged the prediction that the single currency would help differences in income levels across euro area countries narrow over time. This income convergence among the founding countries of the euro has not happened, prompting a need for further economic reforms. While newer members of the euro have converged, even this trend has stalled since the crisis.

Continue reading “Drifting Apart: Income Convergence in the Euro Area” »

Back-to-School Blogs

By IMFBlog

September 5, 2017

Back to school in Paris, France: get caught up on our top blogs you may have missed over the summer (photo: LAURENT CHAMUSSY/SIPA/Newscom)

What a summer it’s been. To help you get a handle on all that has happened in the global economy, our editors have compiled a handy primer of our blogs published over the summer months. Continue reading “Back-to-School Blogs” »

The Benefits and Costs of a U.S. Tax Cut

By Sandra Lizarazo, Adrian Peralta-Alva, and Damien Puy

September 1, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish)

A recent IMF paper looks at the effects of lowering personal income tax rates on income distribution and the U.S. economy (photo: Ingram Publishing/Newscom)

U.S. lawmakers getting ready to rewrite the nation’s tax code have a fundamental question to answer: What are the priorities for tax reform? Do you want faster growth? Less income inequality? A tax cut that doesn’t increase the budget deficit? In a recent working paper, we find that, depending on how a tax cut is targeted, it is possible to make some progress toward the first two objectives. Personal income tax cuts can help support growth and, if well targeted, can also help improve income distribution. However, we find that lowering personal income tax rates does not raise growth enough to offset the revenue loss that is caused by the tax cut itself. Continue reading “The Benefits and Costs of a U.S. Tax Cut” »

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” »

Off the Charts: Your Favorite 5 Charts

By IMFBlog

August 28, 2017

(photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Much as sailors use nautical charts to determine their location at sea, economists use charts to show who we are, where we are, and where we might be going.

In the Spring, 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 our top five charts of the week, based on readership:

Continue reading “Off the Charts: Your Favorite 5 Charts” »

Chart of the Week: Iceland’s Tourism Eruption

By IMFBlog

August 14, 2017

Tourists at Jokulsarlon iceberg lagoon in eastern Iceland. Tourism has become a pillar of the Nordic island’s economy (photo: Picture Alliance/Paul Mayall/Newscom).

Iceland’s tourist industry is burgeoning as adventure-seeking visitors flock to the rugged Nordic nation to partake in activities such as whale watching, ice climbing and spelunking.  

The number of foreign visitors to Iceland surged 40 percent to 1.8 million last year – dwarfing the island’s population of 335,000. This year, Keflavík airport expects another 27 percent increase, to 2.2 million, according to estimates cited in a recent study by IMF economist Uwe  Böwer. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Iceland’s Tourism Eruption” »

Aging Japan Puts a Strain on the Financial System

By Gaston Gelos and Sònia Muñoz

August 10, 2017

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), 日本語 (Japanese)

Elderly shoppers in Tokyo’s Sugamo district: As Japan's population ages, demand for financial services shifts (photo: Issei Kato/Reuters/Newscom).

Japan’s population is shrinking and getting older, posing challenges to the nation’s financial system. How Japan copes could guide other advanced economies in Asia and Europe that are grappling with the same trends but are at an earlier phase of similar demographic developments.

Continue reading “Aging Japan Puts a Strain on the Financial System” »

Building Fiscal Institutions in Fragile States

By Katherine Baer, Sanjeev Gupta, Mario Pessoa

August 9, 2017

Version in Français (French)

A porter in the market in Kathmandu, Nepal: the country increased their tax revenues in recent years with the help of technical assistance (photo: Navesh Chitrakar/Newscom)

Fragile states face more obstacles to growth than most countries.  Their per-capita GDP is less than half of most other low-income countries, and their economies are more volatile.  Many are in conflict or going through a natural disaster, or just emerging from these.  Our study is based on 39 countries, and since completed, the number of fragile states has increased to 43. 

To grow, a country needs tax policies and tax administration, laws and institutions to formulate and execute a budget, and trained staff to implement fiscal policies, among other factors.  Our preliminary results show that fragile states that have received technical assistance, also have improved their fiscal performance.

Continue reading “Building Fiscal Institutions in Fragile States” »

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