Sub-Saharan Africa: Diversifying for Tomorrow

2018-02-16T12:09:38+00:00February 16th, 2018|

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. (more…)

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

2018-02-08T18:54:57+00:00February 8th, 2018|

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. (more…)

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

2018-02-05T12:09:27+00:00February 5th, 2018|

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. (more…)

Three German Economic Challenges with European Effect

2018-01-17T12:52:22+00:00January 17th, 2018|

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.

(more…)

No Roads? No Problem: The Leapfrogging Drones of Rwanda

2018-01-12T08:57:49+00:00January 12th, 2018|

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. (more…)

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

2018-01-25T18:24:42+00:00January 11th, 2018|

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. (more…)

Weak Productivity: The Role of Financial Factors and Policies

2018-01-08T12:24:33+00:00January 8th, 2018|

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? (more…)

Gamechanger: The Digital Payment Boom in India

2018-01-05T08:58:19+00:00January 5th, 2018|

By IMFBlog

January 5, 2018

Madhur Deora, CFO of PayTM: Mobile payment platforms in India are providing small loans to people who’ve never had access to credit (IMF photo).

What does a shoe shiner in India have in common with central bankers and finance ministers? They both can appreciate the digital-payment boom. It’s sweeping the world but has accelerated in India, where last November the government demonetized—declaring that 86 percent of the country’s currency in circulation would cease to be legal tender. (more…)

GDP: Falling Short

2018-01-05T10:42:28+00:00December 22nd, 2017|

By IMFBlog

December 22, 2017

Economist Diane Coyle speaking at the IMF Statistical Forum on Measuring the Digital Economy (photo: IMF)

Gross domestic product, or GDP, has been used to measure growth since the Second World War when economies were all about mass production and manufacturing. In this podcast, economist Diane Coyle, says GDP is less well suited to measure progress in today’s digital economy. (more…)

Chart of the Week: The Walking Debt: Resolving China’s Zombies

2018-01-16T17:22:36+00:00December 11th, 2017|

By IMFBlog

December 11, 2017

Version in 中文 (Chinese), 日本語 (Japanese)

IMF research shows that resolving China’s zombie firms can boost productivity and long-term growth prospects (photo: DNY59/iStock by Getty Images).

China’s “zombies” are non-viable firms that are adding to the country’s rising corporate debt problem, and are bad business. Zombie firms are highly indebted and incur persistent losses, but continue to operate with the support of local governments or soft loans by banks—adding very little value to economic prospects. China has already made a lot of progress in resolving these firms, and should continue its efforts to send the zombies packing. (more…)

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