The Fruits of Growth: Economic Reforms and Lower Inequality

Lagarde.2015MDPORTRAIT4_114x128By Christine Lagarde

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

Growth is essential for improving the lives of people in low-income countries, and it should benefit all parts of society.

Traveling through Africa in the last few days, I have been amazed by the vitality I have witnessed: business startups investing in the future, new infrastructure under construction, and a growing middle class. Many Africans are now making a better living and fewer are suffering from poverty. My current host, Uganda, for example, has more than halved its absolute poverty rate to about 35 percent from close to 90 percent in 1990.

But we have also seen a flip side. Poverty, of course, but inequality as well remain stubbornly high in most developing countries, including in Africa, and too often success is not shared by all.  (more…)

Five Lessons from a Review of Recent Crisis Programs

Vivek Arora.Feb2015-thumbBy Vivek Arora

Version in 中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish)

IMF lending increased to unprecedented levels in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. As difficulties emerged, we extended financial support to countries across the world—in the euro area, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and emerging economies in Europe.

The IMF tried to draw lessons in real time as the crisis evolved in order to adapt our operations. We reviewed individual programs and, from time to time, paused and took stock of our experience across countries.

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Addition by Subtraction: How Diasporas Can Boost Home-Country Growth

Pritha Mitra-blogpicBy Pritha Mitra

Version in عربي (Arabic)

Every year, millions of people leave their countries of birth in search of better opportunities abroad. Often, these migrants are among the most talented workers in their home countries. At first glance, this is a loss for the home countries, which invested considerable time and money in educating and developing these people, only to watch them leave. But look again.

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Emerging Market Corporate Debt in Foreign Currencies

By Selim Elekdag and Gaston Gelos

Debt held by firms in emerging market economies in a currency other than their own poses extra complications these days. When the U.S. Fed does eventually raise interest rates, the accompanying further strengthening of the U.S. dollar will mean an emerging market’s own currency will depreciate against the higher value of the U.S. dollar, and would make it increasingly difficult for firms to service their foreign currency-denominated debts if they have not been properly hedged.

In the latest Global Financial Stability Report, we find that firms in emerging markets that have increased their debt-to-assets ratios have generally also increased their overall sensitivity to changes in the exchange rate—commonly called exchange-rate exposure.

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Financial Risks Rise Amid Uneven Global Economic Recovery

GFSR

By José Viñals

(Versions in عربي and Español)

The three main messages from this Global Financial Stability Report are:

  1. Risks to the global financial system have risen since October and have rotated to parts of the financial system where they are harder to assess and harder to address.
  2. Advanced economies need to enhance the traction of monetary policies to achieve their goals, while managing undesirable financial side effects of low interest rates.
  3. To withstand the global crosscurrents of lower oil prices, rising U.S. policy rates, and a stronger dollar, emerging markets must increase the resilience of their financial systems by addressing domestic vulnerabilities.

Let me now discuss these findings in detail. 

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Infrastructure Investment: Part of Africa’s Solution

Antoinette SayehBy Antoinette M. Sayeh

Tremendous efforts are under way to upgrade sub-Saharan Africa’s infrastructure. But the needs on the ground are still immense as evidenced by the frequent electricity blackouts, poor roads, and insufficient access to clean water in many countries.

Infrastructure is one of the key challenges facing policymakers in the region—I experienced it first hand when I was finance minister of Liberia before coming to the IMF. The benefits are fairly clear: with improved infrastructure, new growth opportunities in the manufacturing and services sector can be generated, barriers to intraregional trade can be reduced, and economies will be better positioned to transition from low to higher productivity activities. Without improved infrastructure, I fear the increase in productivity and greater economic diversification necessary to sustain Africa’s current growth momentum will not materialize.

In this spirit, in the latest Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa economists from the IMF’s African Department looked at progress so far in addressing the infrastructure deficit and discussed policies needed going forward.

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