How Trade with China Boosts Productivity

By JaeBin Ahn and Romain Duval

May 24, 2017

Version in 中文 (Chinese)

Container port, Qingdao city, China. Trade with China has helped improve living standards in advanced economies through higher productivity (photo: Imagine China/Newscom)

Advocates of protectionist policies in advanced economies blame job losses on growing trade with China, and influential researchers have provided some empirical backing for their claims. Yet the benefits of trade with China are often overlooked. Among them is faster growth in productivity—the key driver of improved living standards. This suggests that rather than erecting new barriers to trade, advanced economies should continue to open up—while doing much more to help those who have lost their jobs to overseas competition. (more…)

Chart of the Week: Central and Eastern Europe Close the Gap

By IMFBlog

May 22, 2017

Version in Русский (Russian)

Most of the countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe will see their economies humming away at a strong growth rate in 2017. A measure of their success at fully utilizing their economic machine is the output gapthe difference between what the economy is currently producing, and what it can produce when it is at full capacity.

Our Chart of the Week from a recently published report on the Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European region shows how close these economies come to performing at full potential. (more…)

Restarting the Growth Engine in Sub-Saharan Africa

By IMFBlog

May 19, 2017

Version in Français (French)

The IMF’s latest economic health check of sub-Saharan Africa shows that growth fell to its lowest level in 20 years.

In this podcast, the IMF African Department’s Celine Allard, who oversaw the report, says that this drop brought a halt to the 5 to 6 percent growth rate that was enjoyed in the last two decades. Some factors contributing to this slowdown are lower commodity prices, the devastation of a severe drought—exacerbating crop infestation and leading to a famine affecting some 20 million people—and political conflicts that affect trade.

(more…)

Beheading the Hydra: How the IMF Fights Corruption

By Alistair Thomson 

May 18, 2017 

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

Corruption drains public resources and drags down economic growth in multiple ways (photo: dareknie/iStock by Getty Images)

Corruption—the abuse of public office for private gain—is a many-headed monster. It is pervasive in many countries, but only a fraction of cases make headlines; fewer are successfully prosecuted. Yet the cumulative burden is massive. By some estimates, bribery alone amounts to $1 trillion each year, and corruption more broadly to much more. While the precise figures are the subject of debate, the importance of the problem is not. (more…)

Chart of the Week: Budget-friendly, Equitable Growth in France

By IMFBlog

May 15, 2017

Version in Français (French)

One need look no further than the national motto—liberté, égalité, fraternité—to understand that equality is an especially important concept in France. French policies play an important role in combating inequality. This is primarily achieved through a combination of minimum wage policies and an extensive tax and transfer system.

But these traditional equality-enhancing policies may have reached their limits as unemployment has become entrenched and budgets have been severely stretched. So, what are the best policies for a country weighing how to boost growth, lessen inequality, and minimize costs? It is not a zero sum game.

(more…)

Every Woman Counts: Gender Budgeting in G7 Countries

By Christine Lagarde

May 13, 2017

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

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the G7 countries met in Bari, Italy, this weekend to consider global economic issues, including steps to maintain economic stability and improving gender equality as important agenda items.

Women’s economic empowerment has long been an international priority, of course. The G6—as it was then—was first created in 1975, a year named “International Women’s Year” by the United Nations to help more women worldwide realize their full potential. Mountain climber Junko Tabei masterfully demonstrated this potential when she became the first woman to conquer Mount Everest in that year. However, as the world dealt with the aftermath of the first oil shock and the end of the fixed exchange rate system, global economic stability and women’s empowerment were rarely part of the same conversation.

Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest and the “Seven Summits”—the highest mountains across seven continents (photo: John van Hasselt/Corbis/Getty Images)

How times have changed. Today, in discussions on the global economy, female economic empowerment is almost always on the agenda. (more…)

A New Twist in the Link Between Inequality and Economic Development

By Francesco Grigoli

May 11, 2017

Version in  عربي (Arabic),  Español (Spanish)

Much has been written about the relationship between inequality and economic development, but theory remains inconclusive. When income is more concentrated in the hands of a few individuals, this can lead to less demand by the general population and lower investment in education and health, impairing long-term growth. At the same time, a certain level of inequality endows the rich with the means to start businesses, and creates incentives to increase productivity and investment, promoting economic activity. But the initial inequality levels also matter to explain why an increase in inequality varies in its impact on economic development across countries.

(more…)

Chart of the Week: Conflict’s Legacy for Growth

By IMFBlog

Versions in عربي (Arabic)

May 8, 2017

Conflict has been on the rise since the early 2000s given the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

 Conflict leads not only to immeasurable human costs, but also to substantial economic losses with consequences that can persist for years. The tragic rise in conflict has weighed on global GDP growth in recent years, given the increasing number of countries experiencing strife, the severe effect on economic activity, and the considerable size of some of the affected economies.

The IMF’s most recent World Economic Outlook (Box 1.1) takes a closer look through the lens of conflict’s impact on economic growth and migration.  (more…)

Productivity, Technology, and Demographics

By IMFBlog

May 5, 2017

Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, says that if technology cannot boost productivity, then we are in real trouble.

In a podcast interview, Varian says thirty years from now, the global labor force will look very different, as working age populations in many countries, especially in advanced economies, start to shrink. While some workers today worry they will lose their jobs because of technology, economists are wondering if it will boost productivity enough to compensate for the shifting demographics—the so-called productivity paradox.

(more…)

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. (more…)

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