Taxes, Debt and Development: A One-Percent Rule to Raise Revenues in Africa

By Vitor Gaspar and Abebe Aemro Selassie

December 5, 2017

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

School children in Ghana: building a country’s tax capacity helps pay for education and health care (photo: Vacca Sintesi/SIPA/Newscom).

Tax revenues play a critical role for countries to create room in their budgets to increase spending on social services like health and education, and public investment. At a time when public debt levels in sub-Saharan Africa have increased sharply, raising tax revenues is the most growth-friendly way to stabilize debt. More broadly, building a country’s tax capacity is at the center of any viable development strategy to meet the ongoing needs for expanding education and health care, and filling significant infrastructure gaps. Continue reading “Taxes, Debt and Development: A One-Percent Rule to Raise Revenues in Africa” »

More People, More Technology, More Jobs: How to Build Inclusive Growth

By Stefania Fabrizio and Andrea F. Presbitero

December 4, 2017

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

Pretoria, South Africa: technicians work inside a new locomotive (photo: Zhai Jianlan Xinhua News Agency/Newscom).

Population growth and technological innovation don’t necessarily have to widen inequality in developing countries. They can also offer new opportunities to increase growth and create jobs: the long-term outcomes depend on today’s policy choices. But those choices are not easy because policies for sustained and inclusive growth may conflict with short-term needs. We look at the trade-offs and how to balance short- and long-term goals for sustainable and inclusive growth. Continue reading “More People, More Technology, More Jobs: How to Build Inclusive Growth” »

Shifting Sands

By IMFBlog

November 30,2017

This issue of F&D focuses on the Middle East and North Africa. We take stock of the region’s rapid transformation since the uprisings of 2011—a period that raised the hopes of millions for a better future, and caused despair for millions of others.

The iron lid that had kept Arab societies artificially stable was lifted by the uprisings, writes Marwan Muasher of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. Now, the only path to stability and prosperity is through building better institutions, sharing power, and implementing policies that will foster inclusive growth—a process that will require a new social contract between governments and society. Continue reading “Shifting Sands” »

Roads or Schools: A Critical Tradeoff

By Manoj Atolia, Bin Grace Li, Ricardo Marto, and Giovanni Melina

November 9, 2017 

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

Low-income countries tend to spend less on schools than on roads as a share of GDP (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Roads or schools? It’s a question akin to the “guns or butter” choice that governments around the world confronted in the 20th century: How to spend a nation’s finite resources to produce the maximum benefit for its people.

In our recent IMF Working Paper, we find that low-income countries tend to spend less on schools than on roads as a share of GDP—even though investment in education may be a more pressing need in their societies. 

Continue reading “Roads or Schools: A Critical Tradeoff” »

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” »

Latest Outlook for The Americas: Back on Cruise Control, But Stuck in Low Gear

By Alejandro Werner

July 25, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish), Português (Portuguese)

Shopping mall in Viña del Mar, Chile: Latin America is expected to recover gradually as most economies continue to face weak domestic demand (photo: Rodrigo Garrido/Newscom)

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” »

Chart of the Week: A Storm by Any Other Name

By IMFBlog

June 19, 2017

Women look at destruction after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti ( photo: Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/TNS)

Hurricane season officially began June 1, and we can expect a busy season of damaging storms in the Atlantic, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s outlook.

Hurricanes are the leading cause of natural disasters in the Caribbean, making the region one of the most vulnerable in the world. Yet, only 62 percent of disasters caused by hurricanes have recorded data on economic damages, as the information is difficult to collect. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: A Storm by Any Other Name” »

The Compact with Africa—The Contribution of the IMF

By Christine Lagarde

June 12, 2017

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

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on a visit to Nigeria in 2016 (photo: IMF staff/Steve Jaffe)

Some of the world’s top policymakers and investors are gathering in Berlin to discuss a new initiative that could help reshape Africa’s economic future.

Millions of citizens could see tangible economic benefits from the recently launched Group of Twenty advanced and emerging economies' initiative, known as the “Compact with Africa.” The goal is to boost private investment by harnessing the expertise and resources of governments, investors, and international organizations.

The Compact is about facilitating projects that can lift productivity and living standards. It is about creating fresh opportunities on a continent where 70 percent of the population is under 35 years of age.

Continue reading “The Compact with Africa—The Contribution of the IMF” »

Chart of the Week: Why Energy Prices Matter

By IMFBlog

June 5, 2017

Versions in   عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish)

(photo: Imagine China/Newscom)

Wind turbines and solar panels generate electricity at power station, Jiangsu, China. Getting energy prices right will help reduce environmental costs and save lives (photo: Imagine China/Newscom)

World Environment Day is an occasion to consider why it’s so important to get energy prices right. The IMF has long argued that energy prices that reflect environmental costs can help governments achieve their goals not only for improving public health but also for inclusive growth and sound public finances.  

A number of countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia have recently taken important steps to increase energy prices towards market levels. Some others, such as India and China have made important strides in cost-effective renewable energy sources—and reduced their reliance on fossil fuels. Still, undercharging for fossil fuel energy remains pervasive and substantial and can cause severe health effects from pollution, particularly in densely populated countries. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Why Energy Prices Matter” »

Emerging Economy Consumers Drive Infrastructure Needs

By Paolo Mauro

May 4, 2017

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

The infrastructure needs of emerging market economies, like China or India, differ from those of advanced economies like the United States or Germany. Many emerging economies must substantially expand their energy and transportation networks, or build them from scratch, to accommodate rapid economic growth. Our research shows the more people make, the more they spend on transportation. With emerging economies’ middle classes booming and incomes rising, this has big implications for how policymakers choose to invest in infrastructure. Continue reading “Emerging Economy Consumers Drive Infrastructure Needs” »

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