Chart of the Week: High Hurdles for Trade in Services

By IMFBlog

September 25, 2017

A shop window in Stockholm, Sweden: 62 % of jobs in the country are in the services sector (photo: Bob Strong/Reuters/Newscom).

The service sector accounts for some two-thirds of economic activity, and roughly the same share of jobs around the world. And yet the barriers to trade in services—from banking to online consultations with doctors or engineers—remain high.

Continue reading “Chart of the Week: High Hurdles for Trade in Services” »

Structural Reforms Give Biggest Help To Lagging Countries

By Angana Banerji and Christian Ebeke

September 22, 2017

Structural reforms can jumpstart productivity in countries with weaker initial productivity, and help them catch up with their peers (photo: The Palmer/iStock).

Labor and product market reforms, which make economies more efficient, can benefit all countries. But they are especially helpful in jumpstarting productivity in countries where productivity is weaker. This is good news as it implies that reforms are one route through which countries with lower per capita incomes can catch up with richer countries instead of persistently lagging behind: economic hardship is not destiny. Our new paper provides fresh arguments in favor of the often-difficult structural reforms. Continue reading “Structural Reforms Give Biggest Help To Lagging Countries” »

Corruption in Latin America: Taking Stock

By  David LiptonAlejandro Werner, Carlos Gonçalves

September 21, 2017 

Versions in Español (Spanish)  Português (Portuguese)

Systemic corruption drains public resources and drags down economic growth (photo: People Images/iStock).

Corruption continues to make headlines in Latin America. From a scheme to shelter assets leaked by documents in Panama, to the Petrobras and Odebrecht scandals that have spread beyond Brazil, to eight former Mexican state governors facing charges or being convicted, the region has seen its share of economic and political fallout from corruption. Latin Americans are showing increasing signs of discontent and demanding that their governments tackle corruption more aggressively.

Continue reading “Corruption in Latin America: Taking Stock” »

Growth That Reaches Everyone: Facts, Factors, Tools

By Rupa Duttagupta, Stefania Fabrizio, Davide Furceri, and Sweta Saxena

September 20, 2017

Versions in Русский (Russian), Español (Spanish) 

People lining up in front of a charity house in São Paulo, Brazil: Over 200 million people around the world are unemployed, despite overall economic growth (photo: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters/Newscom)

Economic growth provides the basis for overcoming poverty and lifting living standards. But for growth to be sustained and inclusive, its benefits must reach all people.

While strong economic growth is necessary for economic development, it is not always sufficient.

Over the past few decades, growth has raised living standards and provided job opportunities, lifting millions out of extreme poverty. But, we have also seen a flip side. Inequality has risen in several advanced economies and remains stubbornly high in many that are still developing. Continue reading “Growth That Reaches Everyone: Facts, Factors, Tools” »

Chart of the Week: Banking on Women—A Case for More

By IMFBlog

September 19, 2017

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

Worldwide, women hold less than 20 percent of board seats of banks and banking supervision agencies. More women on bank boards may have a positive effect on bank stability (photo: istocksdaily/iStock by Getty Images)

The “glass ceiling” in finance has barely cracked. Compared to the available talent pool, there is still a large gap between the representation of men and women in leadership positions in banks and bank supervision agencies worldwide.

A recent IMF staff paper provides a comprehensive dataset on banking sector characteristics and performance, as well as on the share of women on the boards of directors and banking supervision agency boards, covering 72 countries over 13 years. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Banking on Women—A Case for More” »

End of the Oil Age: Not Whether But When

By Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, and Aasim M. Husain

September 12, 2017

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

Filling up at a gas station in California: demand for oil could plummet with the rise of renewable energy (Xinhua/Newscom)

A transportation revolution is underway that could completely transform the oil market in the coming decades. Continue reading “End of the Oil Age: Not Whether But When” »

Back-to-School Blogs

By IMFBlog

September 5, 2017

Back to school in Paris, France: get caught up on our top blogs you may have missed over the summer (photo: LAURENT CHAMUSSY/SIPA/Newscom)

What a summer it’s been. To help you get a handle on all that has happened in the global economy, our editors have compiled a handy primer of our blogs published over the summer months. Continue reading “Back-to-School Blogs” »

Global Cooperation—An Uphill Battle: Finance & Development magazine

By Camilla Lund Andersen

August 30, 2017

As access to information burgeons, experts are more crucial than ever. 

This issue of F&D looks at what is arguably the clearest challenge the world faces: how to address complex global problems amid growing skepticism about the benefits of multilateralism and continued global integration.

Continue reading “Global Cooperation—An Uphill Battle: Finance & Development magazine” »

More Action Needed on European Bank Profitability

By John Caparusso, Rohit Goel and Will Kerry

August 30, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish), Deutsche (German), Français (French)

A woman withdraws money from an automated teller machine in Italy: Some European banks have too many branches relative to assets (photo: Martin Moxter imageBROKER/Newscom)

European banking has made considerable progress in the past few years: Banks have built up capital, regulation is stronger and supervision has been enhanced. But profitability remains weak, posing risks for financial stability.

In a sample of more than 170 large European lenders with combined assets of $35 trillion, roughly half generated a weak return on equity in 2016, and banks representing only 15 percent of assets generated a healthy return on equity, defined as more than 10 percent. Weak profitability is also shown in a low return on assets for domestic banks in many European countries. The drivers of these weak returns reflect varying combinations of low income, high costs, or provisions needed to build buffers against non-performing assets.

Continue reading “More Action Needed on European Bank Profitability” »

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” »

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