Chart of the Week: Sharing the Fruits of Growth

By IMFBlog

At last week’s Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, economists and policymakers discussed ways to maintain the momentum of the global economic expansion—while also ensuring that the fruits of growth are shared more widely within their countries. Fiscal policy—government’s ability to tax and spend—has an important role to play.

The effectiveness of fiscal policy in mitigating inequality varies widely by country, as seen in our Chart of the Week. The chart shows the redistribution effect of fiscal policy before and after taxes, as measured by the change in the Gini coefficient. A Gini of zero expresses perfect equality, while a Gini of one expresses maximum inequality. (more…)

Five Keys to a Smart Fiscal Policy

By Vitor Gaspar and Luc Eyraud

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

We live in a world of dramatic economic change. Rapid technological innovation has fundamentally reshaped the way we live and work. International trade and finance, migration, and worldwide communications have made countries more interconnected than ever, exposing workers to greater competition from abroad. While these changes have brought tremendous benefits, they have also led to a growing perception of uncertainty and insecurity, particularly in advanced economies.

Today’s conditions require new, more innovative solutions, which the IMF calls smart fiscal policies. By smart policies we mean policies that facilitate change, harness its growth potential, and protect people who are hurt by it. At the same time, excessive borrowing and record levels of public debt have limited the financial resources available to government. So, fiscal policy must do more with less. Fortunately, researchers and policy makers are realizing that the fiscal tool kit is broader and the tools more powerful than they thought. Five guiding principles sketch the contours of these smart fiscal policies, which are described in chapter one of the IMF’s April 2017 Fiscal Monitor. (more…)

Global Financial Stability Improves; Getting the Policy Mix Right to Sustain Gains

By Tobias Adrian

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

The world’s financial system has become safer and more stable since our last assessment six months ago. Economic activity has gained momentum. The outlook has improved and hopes for reflation have risen. Monetary and financial conditions remain highly accommodative. And investor optimism over the new policies under discussion in the United States has boosted asset prices. These are some of the conclusions of the IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report

But it’s important for governments in the United States, Europe, China and elsewhere to follow through on investor expectations by adopting the right mix of policies. This means preventing fiscal imbalances, resisting calls for higher trade barriers, and maintaining global cooperation on regulations needed to make the financial system safer. (more…)

Global Economy Gaining Momentum—For Now

By Maurice Obstfeld

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Momentum in the global economy has been building since the middle of last year, allowing us to reaffirm our earlier forecasts of higher global growth this year and next. We project the world economy to grow at a pace of 3.5 percent in 2017, up from 3.1 percent last year, and 3.6 percent in 2018. Acceleration will be broad based across advanced, emerging, and low-income economies, building on gains we have seen in both manufacturing and trade.

Our new projection for 2017 in the April World Economic Outlook is marginally higher than what we expected in our last update. This improvement comes primarily from good economic news for Europe and Asia, as well as our continuing expectation for higher growth this year in the United States.

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The Hollowing Out of Middle-Skilled Labor Share of Income

By Mai Dao, Mitali Das, Zsoka Koczan, and Weicheng Lian

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

Imagine how a typical factory today operates in many advanced economies. There are no longer many workers lined up along assembly belts. Instead, there are only a few of them—mostly likely engineers—looking at screens of highly sophisticated equipment that does the assembly once done by humans. With technological advancement constantly driving down the cost of capital, firms are increasingly replacing workers with machines.

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Emerging Markets and Developing Economies: Sustaining Growth in a Less Supportive External Environment

By Bertrand Gruss, Malhar Nabar, and Marcos Poplawski-Ribeiro

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

It is quite likely you are reading this on a smartphone or tablet assembled in an emerging market economy. The beverage beside you could well be tea grown in Sri Lanka or Kenya. And there is a chance that you are —or soon will be—on a plane headed for Shanghai, Sao Paulo, or St. Petersburg.

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How an Extended Period of Low Growth Could Reshape the Financial Industry

By Gaston Gelos and Jay Surti

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

What happens if advanced economies remain stuck in a long-lasting funk marked by tepid growth, low interest rates, aging populations and stagnant productivity? Japan offers an example of the impact on banks, and our analysis suggests that there could also be far-reaching consequences for insurance companies, pension funds, and asset-management firms.

(more…)

Services Exports Open a New Path to Prosperity

By Prakash Loungani, Chris Papageorgiou, and Ke Wang

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese), and Русский (Russian)

Services, which already account for 50 percent of world income and 70 percent of employment, are also becoming an important part of international trade. Services exports—accounting for nearly one fourth of total exports—have come to play a central role in the global economy, thanks in large part to advances in technology. (more…)

Union of Labor and Growth

By IMFBlog

John Evans is Head of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which represents some 65 million organized workers worldwide. In this podcast, he says that the labor market works much like any other market, driven by supply and demand, and the latter is very dependent on how well the economy is doing.  (more…)

Chart of the Week: Global House Prices—Where Is the Boom?

By IMFBlog

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

While house prices around the world have rebounded over the last four years, a closer look reveals that this uptick is dependent on three things: location, location, location.

The IMF’s Global House Price Index—an average of real house prices across countries—has been rising for the past four years. However, house prices are not rising in every country. As noted in our November 2016 Quarterly Update, house price developments in the countries that make up the index fall into three clusters: gloom, bust and boom, and boom(more…)

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