Bringing Down High Debt

By Vitor Gaspar and Laura Jaramillo

April 18, 2018

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

High debt makes governments’ financing vulnerable to sudden changes in market sentiment (photo: NYSE-LUCAS JACKSON-REUTERS Newscom).

Global debt hit a new record high of $164 trillion in 2016, the equivalent of 225 percent of global GDP. Both private and public debt have surged over the past decade. High debt makes government’s financing vulnerable to sudden changes in market sentiment. It also limits a government’s ability to provide support to the economy in the event of a downturn or a financial crisis.

Countries should use the window of opportunity afforded by the economic upswing to strengthen the state of their fiscal affairs. The April 2018 Fiscal Monitor explores how countries can reduce government deficits and debt in a growth-friendly way.

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The Economic Scars of Crises and Recessions

By Valerie Cerra and Sweta C. Saxena

March 21, 2018

Version in  日本語 (Japanese), Português  (Portuguese)

New study finds that all types of recessions lead to permanent losses in output and welfare (photo: Peshkov/iStock by GettyImages).

Economic recessions are typically described as short-term periods of negative economic growth. According to the traditional business cycle view, output moves up and down around its long-term upward trend and after a recession, it recovers to its pre-recession trend. Our new study casts doubt on this traditional view and shows that all types of recessions—including those arising from external shocks and small domestic macroeconomic policy mistakes—lead to permanent losses in output and welfare. Continue reading “The Economic Scars of Crises and Recessions” »

Countries in the IMF Financial Spotlight in 2018

By IMF Blog

January 31, 2018

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

Financial sector assessments are showing that countries and financial systems are adapting better methods to monitor financial vulnerabilities (photo: Ingram Publishing/Newscom).

The IMF in 2018 will complete ten assessments of countries’ financial systems, to identify risks and propose policies to strengthen their financial stability. Three of this year’s reviews will be for countries with Systemically Important Financial Systems : Belgium, Brazil and Poland. In addition, IMF experts will assess the euro area’s financial stability. Other financial stability assessments will cover Armenia, Jamaica, Namibia, Peru, Romania, and Tanzania.

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Economics After the Great Recession

by iMFdirect

The IMF’s Annual Research Conference is coming up November 3 and 4 and the theme this year is macroeconomics after the great recession.

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When Is Repaying Public Debt Not Of The Essence?

By Jonathan D. Ostry and Atish R. Ghosh

Financial bailouts, stimulus spending, and lower revenues during the Great Recession have resulted in some of the highest public debt ratios seen in advanced economies in the past forty years. Recent debates have centered on the pace at which to pay down this debt, with few questions being asked about whether the debt needs to be paid down in the first place.

A radical solution for high debt is to do nothing at all—just live with it. Indeed, from a welfare economics perspective—abstracting from real world problems such as rollover risk—this would be optimal. We explore this issue in our recent work. While there are some countries where clearly debt needs to be brought down, there are others that are in a more comfortable position to fund themselves at exceptionally low interest rates, and that could indeed simply live with their debt (allowing their debt ratio to decline through growth or windfall revenues).

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The Top Ten Blogs of 2014

by iMFdirect

As 2014 draws to a close, we thought you might like a look back at the most read blogs of the year.  These are the headlines and ideas that caught your eyes and the list is based on readership.  We thought we’d pull them all together for you in one quick read.

Wishing you a wonky & worldy 2015 from all of us at iMFdirect.

Continue reading “The Top Ten Blogs of 2014” »

Are Jobs and Growth Still Linked?

Prakash LounganiBy Prakash Loungani 

(Version in Español)

Over 200 million people are unemployed around the globe today, over a fifth of them in advanced economies. Unemployment rates in these economies shot up at the onset of the Great Recession and, five years later, remain very high. Some argue that this is to be expected given that the economy remains well below trend and press for greater easing of macroeconomic policies (e.g. Krugman, 2011, Kocherlakota (2014)). Others suggest that the job losses, particularly in countries like Spain and Ireland, have been too large to be explained by developments in output, and may largely reflect structural problems in their labor markets. Even in the United States, where unemployment rates have fallen over the past year, there is concern that increasing numbers of people are dropping out of the labor force, thus decoupling jobs and growth.

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Advanced Economies Strengthening, Emerging Market Economies Weakening

WEOBy Olivier Blanchard

(Versions in عربي, 中文Français日本語, Русский, and Español)

The issue probably foremost on everyone’s mind, is the fiscal situation in the United States, and its potential implications.

While the focus is on the shutdown and the debt ceiling,  we should not forget the sequester, which is leading to a fiscal consolidation this year which is both too large and too arbitrary. The shutdown is yet another bad outcome, although one which, if it does not last very long, has limited economic consequences.  

Failure to lift the debt ceiling would, however, be a game changer.  Prolonged failure would lead to an extreme fiscal consolidation, and surely derail the U.S. recovery. But the effects of any failure to repay the debt would be felt right away, leading to potentially major disruptions in financial markets, both in the U.S. and abroad.   We see this as a tail risk, with low probability, but, were it to happen, it would have major consequences.

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Global Outlook—Still Three Speeds, But Slower

2010 WEO BLANCHARD By Olivier Blanchard

Today we released our update of the World Economic Outlook.

The world economy remains in 3-speed mode.  Emerging markets are still growing rapidly.  The US recovery is steady.  And much of Europe continues to struggle. 

There is however a twist to the story.   Growth almost everywhere is a bit weaker than we forecast in April, and the downward revision is particularly noticeable in emerging markets.  After years of strong growth, the BRICS in particular are beginning to run into speed bumps.  This means that the focus of policies will increasingly need to turn to boosting potential output growth or, in the case of China, to achieving more sustainable and balanced growth.

What the Numbers Show

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The Cat in the Tree and Further Observations: Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy

akerlofGuest post by George A. Akerlof
University of California, Berkeley
Senior Resident Scholar at the IMF, and co-host of the Conference on Rethinking Macro Policy II: First Steps and Early Lessons

(Versions in عربي中文, Français日本語, and Русский)

I learned a lot from the conference , and I'm very thankful to all the speakers.  Do I have an image of the whole thing?  I don't know whether my image is going to help anybody at all, but my view is that it's as if a cat has climbed a huge tree. It's up there, and oh my God, we have this cat up there.  The cat, of course, is this huge crisis.

And everybody at the conference has been commenting about what we should do about this stupid cat and how do we get it down and what do we do.  What I find so wonderful about this conference is all the speakers have their own respective image of the cat, and nobody has the same opinion.  But then, occasionally, those opinions mesh.  That’s my image of what we have been accomplishing.

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