Gamechanger: The Digital Payment Boom in India

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. Continue reading “Gamechanger: The Digital Payment Boom in India” »

GDP: Falling Short

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. Continue reading “GDP: Falling Short” »

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

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. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: The Walking Debt: Resolving China’s Zombies” »

More People, More Technology, More Jobs: How to Build Inclusive Growth

By Stefania Fabrizio and Andrea F. Presbitero

December 4, 2017

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

Pretoria, South Africa: technicians work inside a new locomotive (photo: Zhai Jianlan Xinhua News Agency/Newscom).

Population growth and technological innovation don’t necessarily have to widen inequality in developing countries. They can also offer new opportunities to increase growth and create jobs: the long-term outcomes depend on today’s policy choices. But those choices are not easy because policies for sustained and inclusive growth may conflict with short-term needs. We look at the trade-offs and how to balance short- and long-term goals for sustainable and inclusive growth. Continue reading “More People, More Technology, More Jobs: How to Build Inclusive Growth” »

Shifting Sands

By IMFBlog

November 30,2017

This issue of F&D focuses on the Middle East and North Africa. We take stock of the region’s rapid transformation since the uprisings of 2011—a period that raised the hopes of millions for a better future, and caused despair for millions of others.

The iron lid that had kept Arab societies artificially stable was lifted by the uprisings, writes Marwan Muasher of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. Now, the only path to stability and prosperity is through building better institutions, sharing power, and implementing policies that will foster inclusive growth—a process that will require a new social contract between governments and society. Continue reading “Shifting Sands” »

Chart of the Week: Oil Prices & Energy Subsidies

By IMFBlog

November 27, 2017

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

Universal fuel and energy subsidies have been prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, but they have substantial drawbacks (photo: Reuters/Newscom).

Reforms in some mostly oil-exporting countries, along with lower international fuel prices since 2014, have reduced the size of fuel subsidies in sub-Saharan Africa, and they need to do more  given the recent rise in international fuel prices.

Universal fuel and energy subsidies have been prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, but they have substantial drawbacks. They tend to benefit the rich rather than the poor, foster fuel overconsumption, and crowd out more productive government spending. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Oil Prices & Energy Subsidies” »

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” »

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