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” »

The Disconnect Between Unemployment and Wages

By Gee Hee Hong, Zsoka Koczan, Weicheng Lian, Malhar Nabar

September 27, 2017

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

Demand for workers is rising, but pay is hardly catching up (photo: Shironosov/iStock).

Over the past three years, labor markets in many advanced economies have shown increasing signs of healing from the Great Recession of 2008-09. Yet, despite falling unemployment rates, wage growth has been subdued–raising a vexing question: Why isn’t a higher demand for workers driving up pay?

Our research in the October 2017 World Economic Outlook sheds light on the sources of subdued nominal wage growth in advanced economies since the Great Recession.  Understanding the drivers of the disconnect between unemployment and wages is important not only for macroeconomic policy, but also for prospects of reducing income inequality and enhancing workers’ security. Continue reading “The Disconnect Between Unemployment and Wages” »

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” »

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” »

Drifting Apart: Income Convergence in the Euro Area

A souvenir shop in Lisbon, Portugal: Income convergence in the euro area has slowed (Photo: Rafael Marchante/REUTERS/Newscom)

By Jeffrey Franks and Hanni Schölermann

September 13, 2017

Versions in Español (Spanish), 語 (Japanese)

The experience of recent decades has challenged the prediction that the single currency would help differences in income levels across euro area countries narrow over time. This income convergence among the founding countries of the euro has not happened, prompting a need for further economic reforms. While newer members of the euro have converged, even this trend has stalled since the crisis.

Continue reading “Drifting Apart: Income Convergence in the Euro Area” »

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” »

Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe: Harnessing the Power of Good Governance

By Poul Thomsen

July 27, 2017

Dubrovnik, Croatia. Countries in the region should continue working on good governance for higher growth (photo: Album/Prisma/Newscom)

In many ways, Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is an incredible success story. In less than a generation, countries moved from centrally-planned economies to market-based ones—transforming their legal systems, public administrations, and economic policies, to name a few key elements. Yet, for the sake of higher growth in the future, countries need to continue enhancing institutions and good governance.

Enhancing institutions and good governance—the efficient governing of a country—remains at the core of the reform agenda to raise prosperity to advanced European living standards. Many countries have joined the European Union, a vital anchor toward these goals, and others are aspiring to join. Continue reading “Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe: Harnessing the Power of Good Governance” »

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