Welfare Versus GDP: What Makes People Better Off

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. Continue reading “Welfare Versus GDP: What Makes People Better Off” »

A Digital-Savvy Indonesia

By Tidiane Kinda and Ting Yan

February 22, 2018

Version in  中文 (Chinese), baˈhasa indoneˈsia (Indonesian)

A salesperson shows a customer the latest smartphones in a showroom in Jakarta, Indonesia: the use of mobile internet services continues to grow rapidly in the country (photo: Beawhiharta/Reuters/ /Newscom).

With the third largest youth population in the world and 130 million active social media users, Indonesia is poised to become the biggest digital economy country in Southeast Asia. To fully embrace the digital opportunity, Indonesia must enhance its infrastructure and increase internet penetration to lift economic growth and productivity.

According to a McKinsey report, digitization could expand Indonesia’s economy by 10 percent of GDP and add 3.7 million jobs by 2025. Continue reading “A Digital-Savvy Indonesia” »

The Buzz of Populism and Its Pull on the Economy

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. Continue reading “The Buzz of Populism and Its Pull on the Economy” »

Smartphones Drive New Global Tech Cycle, but Is Demand Peaking?

By Benjamin Carton, Joannes Mongardini, and Yiqun Li

February 8, 2018

 Demand for smartphones is highly cyclical and related to the release of new models (photo: iStock by GettyImages).

Over a decade of spectacular growth, demand for smartphones has created a new global tech cycle that last year produced a new smartphone for every fifth person on earth.

This has created a complex and evolving supply chain across Asia, changing the export and growth performance of several countries. While our recent analysis of Chinese smartphone exports suggests that the global market may be saturated, demand for other electronics continues to support rising semiconductor production in Asia. Continue reading “Smartphones Drive New Global Tech Cycle, but Is Demand Peaking?” »

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” »

The Art in Artificial Intelligence: Make the Robots Serve the Public Good

By Brian McNeill

January 11, 2018

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

Artificial intelligence can create a roadmap for future opportunities if utilized appropriately (photo: monsitj/iStock by Getty Images).

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence has rapidly matured as a viable field of technology. Machines that learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and perform tasks once uniquely the domain of humans, have entered our daily lives in ways seen and unseen. Given the current breakneck pace of change and innovation, the question for governments and policymakers is how to harness the benefits of artificial intelligence, and not be trampled by the robot takeover of our nightmares. The answer is simple: make them work for us. Continue reading “The Art in Artificial Intelligence: Make the Robots Serve the Public Good” »

Weak Productivity: The Role of Financial Factors and Policies

By Romain Duval, Giuseppe Nicoletti, and Fabrizio Zampolli

January 8, 2018

Auto worker in Mexico: weak productivity has been a problem even before the global financial crisis (photo: Henry Romero/Newscom).

Almost ten years after the onset of the global financial crisis productivity growth remains anaemic in advanced economies despite very easy monetary conditions, casting doubts on the sustainability of the cyclical recovery. The productivity slowdown started well before the crisis, which then amplified the problem. To what extent can this slowdown be ascribed to policies and financial factors, including loose monetary policy prior to 2008, corporate and bank balance sheet vulnerabilities, and the exceptional monetary and financial policy responses to the crisis? Continue reading “Weak Productivity: The Role of Financial Factors and Policies” »

Top Ten Charts of the Week: 2017

By IMFBlog

January 3, 2018

The top 10 charts of the week of 2017 help illuminate the uncharted waters ahead for the global economy  (photo: Kotka, Finland-Newspix24/SipaUS/Newscom).

In the Spring of 2017, 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 the top ten Charts of the Week of 2017, based on your readership. Continue reading “Top Ten Charts of the Week: 2017” »

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