The world is now in a much better situation than six months ago when it comes to policy solutions, according to Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance , who is Chair of the IMF's policy-setting committee, the IMFC, speaking about the outcome of the IMF-World Bank annual meetings in Tokyo.
I went to two areas around Sendai—the first was the Arahama Elementary School, site of a successful evacuation during the disaster. The school is still in its wrecked state—just as it was straight after the tsunami struck. Debris is strewn all over the grounds–a mangled mass of vehicles resembling more a scrap yard than a school. The corridors and classrooms inside are also in ruins.
The slow global recovery is making fiscal adjustment more difficult around the world, but this doesn’t mean that little has been accomplished. In fact, significant progress in many countries has been made during the past two years in strengthening their fiscal accounts after the 2008–09 deterioration.
The world economic recovery continues, but it has weakened further. In advanced countries, growth is now too low to make a substantial dent in unemployment. And in major emerging countries, growth that had been strong earlier has also decreased. Relative to the IMF's forecasts last April, our growth forecasts for 2013 have been revised down from 1.8% to 1.5% for advanced countries, and from 5.8% down to 5.6% for emerging and developing countries.The downward revisions are widespread.
The 2012 annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank are being held this year in Tokyo at a crucial time for the world economy. Key reports out this week are the closely watched World Economic Outlook, the Fiscal Monitor, and the Global Financial Stability Report.
When should multilateral considerations trump national interests in the imposition of controls on capital flows? An IMF paper explores the reasons why countries may want to impose controls and looks at when the wider interest should be taken into consideration, requiring some multilateral principles for their safe management.
The new issue of Finance & Development magazine looks at different aspects of interconnectedness. Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, argues that what he terms the global village increasingly requires global solutions to big emerging problems such as climate change. Kemal Derviş, former head of the United Nations Development Programme who is now a vice president at the Brookings Institution, looks at three fundamental shifts in the global economy that are leading to major adjustments in the balance between east and west.
The IMF blog has helped stimulate considerable debate about economic policy in the current crisis, on events in Europe and around the world, on fiscal adjustment, on regulating the financial sector, and the future of macroeconomics, as economists learn lessons from the Great Recession. As readers struggled to understand the implications of the crisis, our most popular post by far was IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard's Four Hard Truths, a look back at 2011 and the economic lessons for the future.
The current crisis in the eurozone also highlights the importance of coherent economic and political institutions at all levels of economic development. Weaknesses in national macroeconomic and statistical institutions in supposedly “advanced” countries were at the root of the crisis, especially in Greece. And the lack of supportive fiscal and regulatory institutions at the European level—which require making additional steps in political integration—is behind the markets’ continued anxiety surrounding the common European currency.
Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe has been through a lot. In two short decades, the region moved from a communist planned system to a market economy, and living standards have converged towards those in the West. It has also weathered major crises: first the break-up of the old Soviet system in the early 1990s, then the Russian financial crisis in 1998, and finally the recent global economic crisis. How did these countries do it? From the Baltic to the Balkans, the region’s resilience and flexibility are the result of hard work and adaptability. But more than anything, it is the strong institutions built over the last two decades that have enhanced the region’s ability to deal with the momentous challenges of the past, the present—and those to come.