September 1, 2017
Versions in Español (Spanish)
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” »
August 30, 2017
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.
August 28, 2017
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:
August 14, 2017
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” »
August 10, 2017
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.
August 9, 2017
Version in Français (French)
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.
August 2, 2017
Versions in Español (Spanish)
The global financial crisis and its aftermath saw boom-bust cycles in capital flows of unprecedented magnitude. Traditionally, emerging market economies were counselled not to impede capital flows. In recent years, however, there has been growing recognition that emerging market economies may benefit from more proactive management to avoid crisis when flows eventually recede. But do they adopt such a proactive approach in practice?
July 26, 2017
Corrupt officials, tax cheats, and the financial backers of terrorism have one thing in common: they often exploit vulnerabilities in financial systems to facilitate their crimes.
Money laundering and terrorist financing can threaten a country’s economic and financial stability while funding violent and illegal acts. That is why many governments have stepped up the fight against such practices, helped by international institutions such as the IMF.
July 25, 2017
After disappointing growth over the past few years, economic activity in Latin America remains on track to recover gradually in 2017–18 as recessions in a few countries—notably Argentina and Brazil—are coming to an end. Our latest projections show the region growing by 1 percent in 2017 and 1.9 percent in 2018.
But amid low confidence, domestic demand continues to remain weak across most economies, and is expected to only recover slowly as actual output catches up to potential and internal sources of growth build strength, based on a decline in political and policy uncertainty across some major economies. Some countries in the region will need clear strategies to adjust further following a permanent loss in commodity revenues. Continue reading “Latest Outlook for The Americas: Back on Cruise Control, But Stuck in Low Gear” »