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China urgently needs to tackle its corporate-debt problem before it becomes a major drag on growth in the world’s No. 2 economy. Corporate debt has reached very high levels and continues to grow. In our recent paper, we recommend that the government act promptly to adopt a comprehensive program that would sacrifice some economic growth in the short term while rapidly returning the economy to a sustainable growth path.
During 2007-08, house prices in several countries collapsed, marking the onset of a global financial crisis. The IMF’s Global House Price Index, a simple average of real house prices for 57 countries, is now almost back to its level before the crisis (Chart 1). Is it time to worry again about a global fall in house prices? (more…)
While oil prices have stabilized somewhat in recent months, there are good reasons to believe they won’t return to the high levels that preceded their historic collapse two years ago. For one thing, shale oil production has permanently added to supply at lower prices. For another, demand will be curtailed by slower growth in emerging markets and global efforts to cut down on carbon emissions. It all adds up to a “new normal” for oil.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the American economist Irving Fisher warned of the dangers of excessive debt and the deflationary pressures that follow on its tail. He saw debt and deflation as the big, bad actors. Now, their close relatives—too high debt and too low inflation—are still in play, at least for advanced economies.
A return to the strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth that Group of Twenty leaders called for at Hangzhou in September still eludes us. Global growth remains weak, even though it shows no noticeable deceleration over the last quarter. The new World Economic Outlook sees a slowdown for the group of advanced economies in 2016 and an offsetting pickup for emerging and developing economies. Taken as a whole, the world economy has moved sideways. Without determined policy action to support economic activity over the short and longer terms, sub-par growth at recent levels risks perpetuating itself—through the negative economic and political forces it is unleashing.
Too often, a spirit of international cooperation evaporates just when it is most needed and most promising. And then, lack of cooperation leads to crisis; crisis belatedly forces cooperation; but that cooperation must begin with picking up the pieces.
Low growth, high inequality, and slow progress on structural reforms are among the key issues that G20 leaders will discuss at their meeting in Hangzhou, China, this weekend. This meeting comes at an important moment for the global economy. The political pendulum threatens to swing against economic openness, and without forceful policy actions, the world could suffer from disappointing growth for a long time. (more…)
It’s been a busy summer, and you might not have had a chance to read everything as it came across your screen. So as your holidays wind down and you head to work, the editors at iMFdirect have put together some key blogs on hot topics to help you get back up to speed by September.