The Euro Area Needs a Fiscal Union

By Helge Berger, Giovanni Dell’Ariccia, and Maurice Obstfeld

February 21, 2018

Version in Français (French) 

Without more tangible elements of a fiscal union, the euro area will remain fundamentally vulnerable to shocks. (photo: iStock by GettyImages) .

The euro area is experiencing a robust recovery, but the architecture supporting Europe’s currency union remains incomplete and leaves the region vulnerable to future financial crises.

While substantial progress has been made to address some architectural issues—conditional lending facilities and key elements of a banking union—we argue in our recent paper that the euro area needs to build elements of a common fiscal policy, including more fiscal risk sharing, to preserve financial and economic integration and stability. Without some degree of fiscal union, the region will continue to face existential risks that policymakers should not ignore. While this is not a new topic, the current favorable economic climate might be the moment to advance the discussion—and the chance to strengthen the euro area. Continue reading “The Euro Area Needs a Fiscal Union” »

Game-Changers and Whistle-Blowers: Taxing Wealth

By James Brumby and Michael Keen

February 13, 2018

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New Delhi, India: there are now very few effective explicit wealth taxes in either developing or advanced economies (photo: Jens Kalaene/Corbis).

High and rising income inequality is a serious concern in many countries, as highlighted in the IMF’s recent Fiscal Monitor. Wealth, however, is distributed even more unequally than income, as in the picture below. Continue reading “Game-Changers and Whistle-Blowers: Taxing Wealth” »

Countries in the IMF Financial Spotlight in 2018

By IMF Blog

January 31, 2018

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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.

Continue reading “Countries in the IMF Financial Spotlight in 2018” »

A Dream Deferred: Inequality and Poverty Across Generations in Europe

By Christine Lagarde

January 24, 2018

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A young apprentice learns a trade in Palmela, Portugal: the right policies can help reduce inequality and poverty across generations in Europe (photo: Tim Brakemeier/DPA/Newscom).

The poet Langston Hughes once asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?” It is a relevant question to millions around the world today, especially young people, because of inequality and poverty.

This week IMF staff are launching new, European Union-focused research highlighting the impact of unemployment and the long-term consequences of inadequate social protection on the young. The study also explores ideas that can help fix the problem and reduce inequality and poverty for the next generation. Continue reading “A Dream Deferred: Inequality and Poverty Across Generations in Europe” »

The Current Economic Sweet Spot Is Not the “New Normal”

By Maurice Obstfeld

January 22, 2018

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Global growth continues to pick up and is broad based. But no matter how tempting it is to sit back and enjoy the sunshine, policy can and should move to strengthen the recovery (photo: Mumbai, India, Ingram Publishing/Newscom).

As the year 2018 begins, the world economy is gathering speed. The new World Economic Outlook Update revises our forecast for the world economy’s growth in both 2018 and 2019 to 3.9 percent. For both years, that is 0.2 percentage points higher than last October’s forecast, and 0.2 percentage points higher than our current estimate of last year’s global growth. Continue reading “The Current Economic Sweet Spot Is Not the “New Normal”” »

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

By Brian McNeill

January 11, 2018

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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” »

Corruption Disruption

By Christine Lagarde

December 8, 2017

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

Corruption can have devastating effects on economic growth and stability (photo: Patric Sandri IKON Images/Newscom)

Why does the IMF care so deeply about corruption? The reason is simple. The job of the IMF is to protect global economic stability and promote strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive economic growth. And this becomes difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in the presence of entrenched and institutionalized corruption. Continue reading “Corruption Disruption” »

Taxes, Debt and Development: A One-Percent Rule to Raise Revenues in Africa

By Vitor Gaspar and Abebe Aemro Selassie

December 5, 2017

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School children in Ghana: building a country’s tax capacity helps pay for education and health care (photo: Vacca Sintesi/SIPA/Newscom).

Tax revenues play a critical role for countries to create room in their budgets to increase spending on social services like health and education, and public investment. At a time when public debt levels in sub-Saharan Africa have increased sharply, raising tax revenues is the most growth-friendly way to stabilize debt. More broadly, building a country’s tax capacity is at the center of any viable development strategy to meet the ongoing needs for expanding education and health care, and filling significant infrastructure gaps. Continue reading “Taxes, Debt and Development: A One-Percent Rule to Raise Revenues in Africa” »

Chart of the Week: Women Workers Wanted in Japan

By IMFBlog

November 21, 2017

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

A Japanese mother works at home with her child. Encouraging women to take on full time work and have children would help boost growth in Japan (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Problem: Japan is the most aged society among advanced economies (almost 27 percent of its people are over 65). It also faces a shortage of labor (unemployment is just 2.8 percent). Both limit the country’s growth potential. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Women Workers Wanted in Japan” »

Inequality: Fiscal Policy Can Make the Difference

By Vitor Gaspar and Mercedes Garcia-Escribano

 October 11, 2017

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

Wealth and poverty side-by-side in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: inequality is rising within countries around the world (photo: Jean-Marc David/SIPA/Newscom). 

Income inequality among people around the world has been declining in recent decades. This is due to countries like China and India’s incomes catching-up to advanced economies. But the news is not all good. Inequality within countries has increased, particularly in advanced economies. Since the global economic recovery has gained pace and is now widespread, policymakers have a window of opportunity to respond with reforms that tackle inequality, and our new Fiscal Monitor shows how the right mix of fiscal policies can make the difference.

Continue reading “Inequality: Fiscal Policy Can Make the Difference” »

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