Our Digital Future

By Camilla Lund Andersen

May 30, 2018

“Money makes the world go around,” Liza Minnelli famously sang in the movie Cabaret. Money has for centuries been central to human relationships. Loss of faith in its value can result in economic and political instability, even war. In the past few years, financial technology—fintech for short—has caught the world’s imagination by offering alternatives to traditional means of payment. Will digitalization redefine money? In this issue, we explore the possible consequences, good and bad. Continue reading “Our Digital Future” »

Chart of the Week: Greenery and Prosperity

By João Tovar Jalles and Prakash Loungani

May 21, 2018

Versions in  中文, Español, Français, 日本語,  Português 

Brandenburg, Germany: in three advanced economies—Germany, the United Kingdom, and France—emissions have fallen despite the increase in incomes (photo: Caro / Kaiser/Newscom).

Economic growth has traditionally moved in tandem with pollution. But can countries break this link and manage to grow while lowering pollution?

Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Greenery and Prosperity” »

Bringing Down High Debt

By Vitor Gaspar and Laura Jaramillo

April 18, 2018

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

High debt makes governments’ financing vulnerable to sudden changes in market sentiment (photo: NYSE-LUCAS JACKSON-REUTERS Newscom).

Global debt hit a new record high of $164 trillion in 2016, the equivalent of 225 percent of global GDP. Both private and public debt have surged over the past decade. High debt makes government’s financing vulnerable to sudden changes in market sentiment. It also limits a government’s ability to provide support to the economy in the event of a downturn or a financial crisis.

Countries should use the window of opportunity afforded by the economic upswing to strengthen the state of their fiscal affairs. The April 2018 Fiscal Monitor explores how countries can reduce government deficits and debt in a growth-friendly way.

Continue reading “Bringing Down High Debt” »

Chart of the Week: Malaysia Needs More Women in the Workforce

By IMFBlog

April 2, 2018

Version in baˈhasa indoneˈsia (Indonesian)

Four students walk past a bank in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Policies like improving the quality of education can help the country increase the number of women in the workforce (photo: John Mulligan/iStock by Getty Images).

Malaysia, a country well on its way to achieving high income status, can increase the number of women in the labor force by implementing key labor market reforms. And the country should, because our research shows that more women in the workforce benefits the economy.  Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Malaysia Needs More Women in the Workforce” »

Managing Debt Vulnerabilities in Low-Income and Developing Countries

By Tao Zhang

March 22, 2018

Versions in Português (Portuguese)  

Congested streets in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In a third of low-income countries, including Bangladesh, government deficits finance investment in much needed infrastructure (photo: Motoya Taguchi/Jiji Press/Newscom).

Government debt in some of the world’s poorest countries is rising to risky levels, a new IMF report shows. The report looks at economic developments and prospects among the world’s low-income countries, which account for a fifth of the world’s population but only four percent of global output. Continue reading “Managing Debt Vulnerabilities in Low-Income and Developing Countries” »

The Economic Scars of Crises and Recessions

By Valerie Cerra and Sweta C. Saxena

March 21, 2018

Version in  日本語 (Japanese), Português  (Portuguese)

New study finds that all types of recessions lead to permanent losses in output and welfare (photo: Peshkov/iStock by GettyImages).

Economic recessions are typically described as short-term periods of negative economic growth. According to the traditional business cycle view, output moves up and down around its long-term upward trend and after a recession, it recovers to its pre-recession trend. Our new study casts doubt on this traditional view and shows that all types of recessions—including those arising from external shocks and small domestic macroeconomic policy mistakes—lead to permanent losses in output and welfare. Continue reading “The Economic Scars of Crises and Recessions” »

Policy Actions to Sustain Growth and Guard Against Risks

By Christine Lagarde

March 15, 2018

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

Even though the sun still shines on the global economy, there are more clouds on the horizon (iStock by GettyImages).

When the Group of Twenty finance ministers and central bank governors met last October, there was a sense of optimism about the global economic upswing and the opportunities for much-needed reforms.

When they meet again in Buenos Aires next week, their focus will be on the policies needed to protect this upswing against downside risks and bolster growth going forward.

The good news is that the growth momentum has continued to strengthen, involving three- quarters of the world economy.

Continue reading “Policy Actions to Sustain Growth and Guard Against Risks” »

Fintech Quiz: How Much Do You Know?

By IMFBlog

March 12, 2018

Rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the financial services landscape (iStock by Getty Images).

From artificial intelligence to cryptography, rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the financial services landscape, creating opportunities and challenges for consumers, service providers, and regulators alike. This new wave of technology is often called “fintech” and the industry is thriving. Consumers worldwide are using two or more fintech services, sometimes without knowing they are using fintech services. Continue reading “Fintech Quiz: How Much Do You Know?” »

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” »

The Struggle to Manage Debt

By Christoph Rosenberg

March 1, 2018

Good economic times offer an opportunity to tackle budget deficits

The global economy has a spring in its step. Growth is picking up, and we at the IMF have been ratcheting up our forecasts. Government coffers are filling and, with more people at work, demand for public social support is receding. The fiscal woes of the past decade seem behind us.

But this sunny perspective ignores debt levels that remain close to historic highs and the inevitable end of the cyclical upswing. Estimates of underlying growth potential have hardly budged, and interest rates—the cost of servicing all this debt—are starting to rise, which will eventually make it harder to refinance bonds and loans. Continue reading “The Struggle to Manage Debt” »

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