Managing Debt Vulnerabilities in Low-Income and Developing Countries

By Tao Zhang

March 22, 2018

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

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” »

A Framework for Currency Unions and IMF Lending

By Sean Hagan and Hugh Bredenkamp

March 16, 2018

Versions in عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Português (Portuguese)

New guidance approved by the IMF represents an important step in how the Fund supports members of currency unions undertaking adjustment (photo: IMF).

Countries benefit in various ways from belonging to a currency union—a group of countries that share a single currency. Businesses can trade and invest across borders more easily. Member countries gain access to larger markets without facing currency risk. And in some circumstances, currency unions can help support their members when they are hit by external shocks. Continue reading “A Framework for Currency Unions and IMF Lending” »

The Euro Area Needs a Fiscal Union

By Helge Berger, Giovanni Dell’Ariccia, and Maurice Obstfeld

February 21, 2018

Version in Français (French) 

Without more tangible elements of a fiscal union, the euro area will remain fundamentally vulnerable to shocks. (photo: iStock by GettyImages) .

The euro area is experiencing a robust recovery, but the architecture supporting Europe’s currency union remains incomplete and leaves the region vulnerable to future financial crises.

While substantial progress has been made to address some architectural issues—conditional lending facilities and key elements of a banking union—we argue in our recent paper that the euro area needs to build elements of a common fiscal policy, including more fiscal risk sharing, to preserve financial and economic integration and stability. Without some degree of fiscal union, the region will continue to face existential risks that policymakers should not ignore. While this is not a new topic, the current favorable economic climate might be the moment to advance the discussion—and the chance to strengthen the euro area. Continue reading “The Euro Area Needs a Fiscal Union” »

Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018: An Economic Recovery in the Making

By Alejandro Werner

January 25, 2018

Versions in Español (Spanish) and Português (Portuguese)

Latin America’s economic recovery is expected to benefit from higher commodity prices (photo: iStock by Getty Images)

Recent trends in the world economy and financial markets are good news for Latin America. Global growth and trade are on an upswing, and we expect the momentum to continue in 2018. Stronger commodity prices have also helped the region rebound. Continue reading “Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018: An Economic Recovery in the Making” »

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”” »

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” »

Fed Tightening May Squeeze Portfolio Flows to Emerging Markets

By Robin Koepke

December 14, 2017

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

Derivatives traders in Singapore: Tighter Federal Reserve monetary policy is likely to reduce overseas purchases of emerging market stocks and bonds (photo: Caro/Rupert Oberhaeuser/Newscom)

A key question facing global investors today is what impact the US Federal Reserve’s monetary policy normalization process will have on capital flows to emerging markets. The IMF’s new model estimates show that normalization—raising the policy interest rate and shrinking the balance sheet—will likely reduce portfolio inflows by about $70 billion over the next two years, which compares with average annual inflows of $240 billion since 2010. Continue reading “Fed Tightening May Squeeze Portfolio Flows to Emerging Markets” »

Understanding and Managing Financial Interdependence

By Maurice Obstfeld

November 8, 2017

(photo: AlexLMX and David Hunt/iStock)

The 18th Annual Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference last week opened with Managing Director Christine Lagarde noting the ebb and flow of capital movements into emerging market and developing economies since the turn of the millennium. She asked three questions at the heart of the discussion, and to which speakers returned consistently during the conference: Continue reading “Understanding and Managing Financial Interdependence” »

Understanding the Global Financial Cycle

By Maurice Obstfeld and Mahvash S. Qureshi

October 27, 2017

The boom and bust in cross-border capital flows around the global financial crisis, and in its aftermath, have rekindled debates on the existence and implications of a “global financial cycle.”

The traditional open-economy (“Mundell-Fleming”) model postulates that countries face a “trilemma”: a trade-off among the objectives of exchange rate stability, free capital mobility, and independent monetary policy. If a country chooses exchange rate stability and free capital mobility, it must give up monetary policy autonomy. Conversely, an independent monetary policy in the presence of free capital flows is possible through exchange rate flexibility. Continue reading “Understanding the Global Financial Cycle” »

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