June 26, 2017
Current account imbalances can be healthy or a sign of macroeconomic and financial stress—which makes their evaluation tricky. In line with its mandate of promoting international monetary cooperation, the IMF conducts annual external assessments for the world’s largest economies. The objective is to alert the global community to potential risks that countries need to address together.
Countries, like households, may spend above their incomes sometimes, and below them at other times. A country that spends above its income imports more goods and services than it exports and is said to have a current account deficit. It finances this deficit by incurring liabilities to the rest of the world, or by borrowing from it. Continue reading “Assessing Global Imbalances: The Nuts and Bolts” »
June 23, 2017
Worldwide, more than two billion people are without bank accounts, and only one in three adults in sub-Saharan Africa has access to any type of financial services. In this podcast, Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO of Nigeria's leading mobile payment platform, Paga, reveals how his company is rapidly bringing millions of unbanked Nigerians into the banking fold. Continue reading “Banking On the Go” »
June 20, 2017
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” »
June 19, 2017
Hurricane season officially began June 1, and we can expect a busy season of damaging storms in the Atlantic, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s outlook.
Hurricanes are the leading cause of natural disasters in the Caribbean, making the region one of the most vulnerable in the world. Yet, only 62 percent of disasters caused by hurricanes have recorded data on economic damages, as the information is difficult to collect. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: A Storm by Any Other Name” »
June 15, 2017
Monetary and fiscal policies interact in complex ways. Yet modern institutional arrangements typically feature a strict separation of responsibilities. For example, the central bank targets inflation and smooths business cycle fluctuations, while the fiscal authority agrees to respect its budget constraint and to support financial stability by maintaining the safe asset status of its debt. This gives governments the freedom to pursue a multiplicity of economic and social objectives (in IMF parlance, inclusive growth).
June 13, 2017
International financial flows have declined significantly after the crisis, and their composition has changed. As portfolio and other investment flows took a dip between 2007 and 2015, foreign direct investment (FDI) continued to surge. The increase is concentrated in financial centers, which now account for almost half of global FDI claims.
June 12, 2017
Some of the world’s top policymakers and investors are gathering in Berlin to discuss a new initiative that could help reshape Africa’s economic future.
Millions of citizens could see tangible economic benefits from the recently launched Group of Twenty advanced and emerging economies' initiative, known as the “Compact with Africa.” The goal is to boost private investment by harnessing the expertise and resources of governments, investors, and international organizations.
The Compact is about facilitating projects that can lift productivity and living standards. It is about creating fresh opportunities on a continent where 70 percent of the population is under 35 years of age.
June 9, 2017
As Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde travels the world engaging with country officials, civil society, nongovernmental organizations, and media representatives. Lagarde also makes a point to engage with women and youth groups, to listen to their concerns, and to discuss their vision for their countries.
June 8, 2017
Calculating how much capital banks should have is often a bone of contention between regulators and banks. While there has been considerable progress on reaching consensus on an international standard, one key issue remains unresolved. This is a proposal to establish a “floor,” or minimum, for the level of capital the largest banks must maintain.
Some financial institutions and national authorities question the need for a “floor,’’ arguing either that differences in business models or other elements of the global regulatory framework—notably limits on the amount of leverage banks may take on—make them redundant. We disagree. The floor reduces the chances that banks can game the system to reduce their capital buffers to levels that aren’t aligned with their risks. It is an essential element of global efforts to create a level playing field for banks operating across countries by strengthening common standards for regulation, supervision and risk management.