The Struggle to Manage Debt

By Christoph Rosenberg

March 1, 2018

Good economic times offer an opportunity to tackle budget deficits

The global economy has a spring in its step. Growth is picking up, and we at the IMF have been ratcheting up our forecasts. Government coffers are filling and, with more people at work, demand for public social support is receding. The fiscal woes of the past decade seem behind us.

But this sunny perspective ignores debt levels that remain close to historic highs and the inevitable end of the cyclical upswing. Estimates of underlying growth potential have hardly budged, and interest rates—the cost of servicing all this debt—are starting to rise, which will eventually make it harder to refinance bonds and loans. Continue reading “The Struggle to Manage Debt” »

A Digital-Savvy Indonesia

By Tidiane Kinda and Ting Yan

February 22, 2018

Version in  中文 (Chinese), baˈhasa indoneˈsia (Indonesian)

A salesperson shows a customer the latest smartphones in a showroom in Jakarta, Indonesia: the use of mobile internet services continues to grow rapidly in the country (photo: Beawhiharta/Reuters/ /Newscom).

With the third largest youth population in the world and 130 million active social media users, Indonesia is poised to become the biggest digital economy country in Southeast Asia. To fully embrace the digital opportunity, Indonesia must enhance its infrastructure and increase internet penetration to lift economic growth and productivity.

According to a McKinsey report, digitization could expand Indonesia’s economy by 10 percent of GDP and add 3.7 million jobs by 2025. Continue reading “A Digital-Savvy Indonesia” »

Sub-Saharan Africa: Diversifying for Tomorrow

By IMFBlog

February 16, 2018

Photo: iStock by Getty Images/subman

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa need to diversify their economies, and the region’s youth need to be at the heart of it, says Axel Schimmelpfennig.

Schimmelpfennig is head of the IMF team for Uganda, and a coauthor of a study that looks at the potential benefits of a stepped-up diversification agenda in sub-Saharan Africa.

In this podcast, Schimmelpfennig talks about the need for sub-Saharan Africa to increase productivity in areas like agriculture and manufacturing to become more competitive in the export market and allow for increasing wages. Continue reading “Sub-Saharan Africa: Diversifying for Tomorrow” »

Smartphones Drive New Global Tech Cycle, but Is Demand Peaking?

By Benjamin Carton, Joannes Mongardini, and Yiqun Li

February 8, 2018

 Demand for smartphones is highly cyclical and related to the release of new models (photo: iStock by GettyImages).

Over a decade of spectacular growth, demand for smartphones has created a new global tech cycle that last year produced a new smartphone for every fifth person on earth.

This has created a complex and evolving supply chain across Asia, changing the export and growth performance of several countries. While our recent analysis of Chinese smartphone exports suggests that the global market may be saturated, demand for other electronics continues to support rising semiconductor production in Asia. Continue reading “Smartphones Drive New Global Tech Cycle, but Is Demand Peaking?” »

Chart of the Week: Inequality, Your Health, and Fiscal Policy

By Mercedes García-EscribanoBaoping Shang, and Emmanouil (Manos) Kitsios

February 5, 2018 

 Catania Sicily, Italy.  Men with a lower level of education live shorter lives, on average, than their better educated fellow citizens (photo: Jann Huizenga/Getty Images/IStock).

The gap in life expectancy between rich and poor people is a worldwide phenomenon, and has grown dramatically in recent years in some countries. 

In our Chart of the Week, we show how this longevity gap, which reflects inequality in access to health care and its impact on peoples’ overall health, varies across countries. Men with a lower level of education live shorter lives, on average, than their better educated fellow citizens: this gap ranges from four years in Italy, to 14 years in Hungary, according to the October 2017 Fiscal Monitor. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Inequality, Your Health, and Fiscal Policy” »

Three German Economic Challenges with European Effect

By Christine Lagarde

January 17, 2018

Berlin, Germany: The bright economic outlook offers a chance for policymakers to address the country’s economic challenges (photo: iStock/Andrey Danilovich).

The economic outlook for Germany is bright. Optimism among investors abounds, and unemployment is at a record low. Policymakers now have a unique opportunity to address the challenges facing the German economy. These are varied but include boosting wages, investing in infrastructure, and reducing the large trade surplus. As the largest economy of the euro area, Germany also has a stake in fostering reforms in the monetary union. Successfully rising to these challenges is critical for Germany and for the euro area as a whole.

Continue reading “Three German Economic Challenges with European Effect” »

By | January 17th, 2018|Advanced Economies, Aging, inflation, Infrastructure, Investment, productivity, trade, wages|

No Roads? No Problem: The Leapfrogging Drones of Rwanda

By IMFBlog

January 12, 2018

Zipline drone on a launch pad at operations center in Muhanda, Rwanda. (photo: James Akena/Reuters/Newscom).

What’s the best solution to a lack of infrastructure? Find a solution that doesn’t require infrastructure. That’s what Zipline has done in Rwanda—a start-up that deploys drones to make emergency medical deliveries to remote hospitals and clinics.

“Obviously in instances where Zipline can make a delivery to a place that wouldn't otherwise be reachable by roads, that's a good example of leapfrogging over the absence of infrastructure,” Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo said. Continue reading “No Roads? No Problem: The Leapfrogging Drones of Rwanda” »

The Art in Artificial Intelligence: Make the Robots Serve the Public Good

By Brian McNeill

January 11, 2018

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

Artificial intelligence can create a roadmap for future opportunities if utilized appropriately (photo: monsitj/iStock by Getty Images).

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence has rapidly matured as a viable field of technology. Machines that learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and perform tasks once uniquely the domain of humans, have entered our daily lives in ways seen and unseen. Given the current breakneck pace of change and innovation, the question for governments and policymakers is how to harness the benefits of artificial intelligence, and not be trampled by the robot takeover of our nightmares. The answer is simple: make them work for us. Continue reading “The Art in Artificial Intelligence: Make the Robots Serve the Public Good” »

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” »

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