September 1, 2017
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U.S. lawmakers getting ready to rewrite the nation’s tax code have a fundamental question to answer: What are the priorities for tax reform? Do you want faster growth? Less income inequality? A tax cut that doesn’t increase the budget deficit? In a recent working paper, we find that, depending on how a tax cut is targeted, it is possible to make some progress toward the first two objectives. Personal income tax cuts can help support growth and, if well targeted, can also help improve income distribution. However, we find that lowering personal income tax rates does not raise growth enough to offset the revenue loss that is caused by the tax cut itself. Continue reading “The Benefits and Costs of a U.S. Tax Cut” »
August 30, 2017
As access to information burgeons, experts are more crucial than ever.
This issue of F&D looks at what is arguably the clearest challenge the world faces: how to address complex global problems amid growing skepticism about the benefits of multilateralism and continued global integration.
August 28, 2017
Much as sailors use nautical charts to determine their location at sea, economists use charts to show who we are, where we are, and where we might be going.
In the Spring, we began our Chart of the Week feature on the blog: snapshots in time and over time of how economies work to help illuminate the uncharted waters ahead for the global economy.
Here are our top five charts of the week, based on readership:
By Poul Thomsen
July 27, 2017
In many ways, Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is an incredible success story. In less than a generation, countries moved from centrally-planned economies to market-based ones—transforming their legal systems, public administrations, and economic policies, to name a few key elements. Yet, for the sake of higher growth in the future, countries need to continue enhancing institutions and good governance.
Enhancing institutions and good governance—the efficient governing of a country—remains at the core of the reform agenda to raise prosperity to advanced European living standards. Many countries have joined the European Union, a vital anchor toward these goals, and others are aspiring to join. Continue reading “Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe: Harnessing the Power of Good Governance” »
July 26, 2017
Corrupt officials, tax cheats, and the financial backers of terrorism have one thing in common: they often exploit vulnerabilities in financial systems to facilitate their crimes.
Money laundering and terrorist financing can threaten a country’s economic and financial stability while funding violent and illegal acts. That is why many governments have stepped up the fight against such practices, helped by international institutions such as the IMF.
July 21, 2017
After two decades of steady growth, Uganda’s economy has slowed, and life for Ugandans is not improving fast enough.
Drought in the Horn of Africa, regional conflict, and slow credit growth have contributed to this decline, with per capita growth falling to ½ percent from an average of 5 percent for the past 20 years. Continue reading “Uganda’s Recipe for Growth” »
July 14, 2017
Corruption can lead to pervasive distrust in government, generating violence, civil strife, and conflict. And the results are devastating for people.
Another problem is that corruption is costly—particularly for those who are already worse off. IMF research shows that in countries with greater levels of corruption, infant mortality and dropout rates are especially high, partly due to less spending on health and education. Reduced investment in these areas tends to hurt poor people the most, and contributes to higher inequality. Continue reading “Corrosive and Costly Corruption” »
July 11, 2017
Economists tend to agree on the importance of competition for a sound market economy. So, what’s the problem when it comes to governments competing to attract investors through the tax treatment they provide? The trouble is that by competing with one another and eroding each other’s revenues, countries end up having to rely on other—typically more distortive—sources of financing or reduce much-needed public spending, or both. Continue reading “Peer Pressure: Tax Competition and Developing Economies” »
June 30, 2017
Ireland’s economy continues to recover after a housing market crash in 2008 plunged the country into a deep and severe crisis. The strong social welfare system provided an important cushion against the worst effects of the crisis.
Ireland’s tax-benefit system is one of the most effective in the European Union in redistributing income. The tax system is relatively progressive and funds a robust system of social benefits, a significant share of which is means-tested. Income inequality before taxes and transfers in Ireland is high—37 percent of income is held by the top 10 percent of income earners. Social transfers make up about 70 percent of income for the bottom 20 percent of earners.