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” »

Fintech: Capturing the Benefits, Avoiding the Risks

By Christine Lagarde

June 20, 2017

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

A signboard at a store in Guangzhou, China, lists various forms of mobile payment (photo: Imagine China/Newscom)

When you send an email, it takes one click of the mouse to deliver a message next door or across the planet. Gone are the days of special airmail stationery and colorful stamps to send letters abroad.

International payments are different. Destination still matters. You might use cash to pay for a cup of tea at a local shop, but not to order tea leaves from distant Sri Lanka. Depending on the carrier, the tea leaves might arrive before the seller can access the payment. Continue reading “Fintech: Capturing the Benefits, Avoiding the Risks” »

In Transition: The Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean

Event onlyBy Alejandro Werner

Versions in: Português (Portuguese),  Español (Spanish)

Following a rough start at the beginning of the year, both external and domestic conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean have improved. But the outlook for the region is still uncertain.

Commodity prices have recovered since their February 2016 trough, but they are still expected to remain low for the foreseeable future. This has been accompanied by a brake—or even a reversal—in the large exchange rate depreciations in some of the largest economies in the region.

Continue reading “In Transition: The Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean” »

The People’s Bank of China: Monetary Policy in a Time of Transition

by iMFdirect

Today at the IMF, the Governor of the People's Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan, gave the Michel Camdessus Central Banking Lecture in Washington, D.C.

With China’s economy undergoing a transition, Governor Zhou spoke about managing monetary policy with multiple objectives, and the independence of central banks.

“For central banks with a single objective, it is relatively easy to be independent. However, if a central bank has multiple objectives, it may be harder to be immune from the political reality.”

Zhou also discussed the role of central banks in economies undergoing a transition to a market economy.

“If central banks do not promote financial reforms or development of financial markets, there would be no healthy financial institutions or market mechanisms, let alone smooth transmission of monetary policy. Furthermore, like other emerging market economies, transition economies have a low level of development and hoped to make up for the 'lost decades'.”

You can watch Governor Zhou’s speech and his discussion with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

PBOC pic

China and Africa: Will the Honeymoon Continue?

By Wenjie Chen and Roger Nord

(Versions in عربي中文, Français, Português, and Español)

China’s President Xi Jinping’s recent pledge of US$60 billion in financial support over the next three years illustrates the depth of the partnership between China and Africa.

However, China’s shift from an investment-heavy, export led growth strategy to an economic model that relies more on domestic consumption has led to a dramatic decline in commodity prices. Lower commodity prices and lower volumes of trade have hit sub-Saharan Africa’s commodity exporters hard. But over the medium term, this shift may offer sub-Saharan African countries the opportunity to diversify their economies away from natural resources, and create jobs for their young populations, provided they pursue the right policies to foster competitiveness and integrate into global value chains.

Continue reading “China and Africa: Will the Honeymoon Continue?” »

By | December 21st, 2015|Africa, growth, International Monetary Fund, Investment, Transition|

Housing Bubbles: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

By Kevin Fletcher and Peter Kunzel

The main features of boom-bust cycles in housing markets are by now all too familiar.

During booms, conditions such as lax lending standards and low interest rates help drive up house prices and with them mortgage debt.

When the bust arrives, over-indebted households find themselves underwater on their mortgages— owing more than their homes are worth.

Feeling the pinch of reduced wealth and access to credit, households, in turn, rein in consumption. At the same time, lower house prices cause investment in new houses to tumble.

Together, these forces significantly depress output and increase unemployment. Non-performing loans increase, and banks respond by tightening credit and lending standards, further depressing house prices and adding to the vicious cycle.

Continue reading “Housing Bubbles: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure” »

The First Wealth

Jeff Hayden altBy Jeff Hayden

"The first wealth is health,” American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in 1860.­

Emerson’s quote, cited by Harvard economist and health expert David E. Bloom in Finance and Development’s lead article, reminds us that good health is the foundation on which to build—a life, a community, an economy.­

Humanity has made great strides, developing vaccines and medical techniques that allow us to live longer, healthier lives. Other developments—such as increased access to clean water and sanitation—have helped beat back long-standing ills and pave the way for better health.

Continue reading “The First Wealth” »

Building the Future: Jobs, Growth, and Fairness in the Arab World


2014MDNEW_04
By Christine Lagarde

(Version in عربي and Français)

Returning from Amman, where we just wrapped up a conference on the future of the Arab countries in transition, I am truly energized by the optimistic spirit that I encountered. Following on the heels of my visit to Morocco, it was an extraordinary couple of days of better understanding the people and the challenges they confront in this fascinating region.

Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director, speaks to Syrian refugee woman during visit to Syrian al-Za'atari refugee camp in Mafraq city

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks to Syrian refugee women at al-Za'atari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan. Photo: Pool/Ali Jarekjiali Jarekji/AFP/Getty Images

I did not start my visit to Jordan in a conference room, but at the Za’atari refugee camp. It is now home—hopefully a temporary one—to over 100,000 Syrians who fled the bloody conflict in their country. I saw firsthand how these refugees cope under extraordinarily difficult circumstances—and how Jordan, the region, and the international
community are coming together. It is heartening to see how Jordanian hospitality and determined support from UN agencies and many other aid organizations are preventing a bad situation from becoming even worse. But more help is direly needed. We at the IMF are doing our own part, by flexibly supporting Jordan with a $2.1 billion loan. Continue reading “Building the Future: Jobs, Growth, and Fairness in the Arab World” »

From Rabat to Amman

2014MDNEW_04

By Christine Lagarde

(Version in عربي  and Français)

Earlier this week, the first stop on my Middle East and North Africa trip was Morocco, which displayed its legendary hospitality and kindness. Located at the crossroads of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, the country holds so much promise as a dynamic hub for the region.

Morocco has remained a model of stability despite a challenging environment—the economic crisis in Europe, political transition in Arab countries, and more. Throughout all this, the economy has proved resilient, and serious reforms are under way. Continue reading “From Rabat to Amman” »

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