International Women’s Day—March 8—is one of my favorite days. It is a time to celebrate the impressive progress women at all levels of the career ladder have made in recent decades. More women in the labor force, and in more senior positions is good news for women, for their companies, and for their countries’ economies.
A new IMF staff study finds that in Europe, national policies, even taking account of personal preferences, can boost women’s participation in the workforce and enhance their chances for advancement.
As the Group of Twenty leaders gather in Turkey this weekend, they will have on their minds heartbreaking images of displaced people fleeing countries gripped by armed conflict and economic distress. The surge of refugees in the last few years has reached levels not seen in decades. And these numbers could increase further in the near future.
The immediate priority must be to help the refugees—who bear the heaviest burden, and too often tragically—with better access to shelter, health care and quality education.
Many of the countries neighboring conflict zones—which have welcomed most of the refugees—have stretched their capacity to absorb people to the limit. To support additional public services for refugees, they will require more financial resources. The international community must play its part. With the IMF’s support, for example, Jordan has been able to adjust its fiscal targets to help meet this need.
IMF staff have just concluded their annual health check of the U.S. economy, and released their concluding statement.
This year we have also undertaken a Financial Sector Assessment Program with the United States. We conduct these once every 5 years for systemically important countries and it is a comprehensive exercise looking at the whole U.S. financial system.
Given this important work, we have focused our review of the U.S. economy on financial stability risks and the appropriate policies to mitigate them, as well as looking at recent movements in the U.S. dollar and the timing, form, and impact of interest rate normalization by the Fed.
A more detailed report on the U.S. economy and on the financial sector will be available on July 8.
By Jeff Hayden
World leaders will come together three times—in July, September, and December—to press for progress in the fight against poverty and to forge partnerships in support of better-quality life around the world.
In July, government officials and representatives from civil society organizations, donor groups, and the private sector will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to secure the financing needed to lift millions out of extreme poverty.
The global community assembles again in New York in September to review progress under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire this year, and to adopt new ones—the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—that map out development through 2030.
Brazil has made remarkable social gains over the past decade and a half. Millions of families have been lifted from extreme poverty, and access to education and health has improved thanks to a series of well-targeted social interventions, such as Bolsa Familia, the conditional cash transfer program. I was privileged to see some of this tangible progress during my visit to Brazil last week.
I met with Tereza Campello, Brazil’s Minister for Social Development, who explained the network of social programs in the country, and guided us on a visit to Complexo do Alemão—a neighborhood and a group of favelas in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro. We got there after a ride on the recently built cable car, which links several neighborhoods on the hills to the North Zone. This is a great example of infrastructure that has contributed immensely to improving the economic opportunities of people, who now have a quick way to move around and connect to the larger city. The stations themselves are also focal points of the efforts aimed at improving the daily lives of the people of Rio de Janeiro, since they house important services such as the youth center, a social assistance center, a public library, a training center for micro-entrepreneurs, and even a small branch of the bank that distributes the Bolsa Familia monthly grants.
Washington is at its best in the spring. Green shoots pop out, daffodils and magnolias are in full bloom and the cherry blossoms cast a pink halo over the city. After a long, cold winter, there is hope everywhere.
And so it was with the 2015 Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank. Hope was in the air—would the global economy avoid the “new mediocre” from becoming the “new reality?” Would Greece reach agreement with its creditors? Would there be progress on IMF governance reform?
As many countries around the world are grappling with low growth, India has been marching in the opposite direction. The IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde gave a speech at Lady Sri Ram College in New Delhi to talk about the global economy, India’s economy, and how quality of growth can benefit women, the poor, and the youth of India.
Implementation, investment, and inclusiveness: these three policy goals will dominate the G-20 agenda this year, including the first meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Istanbul next week. As Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu recently put it: “Now is the time to act” – şimdi uygulama zamanı.
There is a lot at stake. Without action, we could see the global economic supertanker continuing to be stuck in the shallow waters of sub-par growth and meager job creation. This is why we need to focus on these three “I’s”:
I am looking forward to being in Peru this week to discuss economic and social developments with the government and a wide range of stakeholders—and also to follow up on the preparations for the next IMF–World Bank Annual Meetings, which will be held in Lima in October 2015. Later this week, I will participate in the Santiago Conference in Chile, where I will meet policymakers and influential representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss economic approaches to strengthen the entire region.
As I travel to the land of the Andes, I am reminded of the natural beauty of the region, the richness of its culture, and its incredible diversity. Despite its current challenges—growth continues to slow, as global economic and financial conditions are shifting and economies run up against capacity limits—I remain decidedly optimistic about the region’s potential to raise living standards while protecting its unique heritage and precious environment.