Many advanced countries need structural reforms to make their economies more productive and raise long-term living standards. Our new research shows that provided countries can afford it, fiscal policy, through spending or tax incentives, can help governments overcome some obstacles to the reforms, particularly in the early stages. (more…)
In December 2016, the U.S. Fed raised interest rates for the first time in a year, and said they planned more increases in 2017. Emerging market currencies took a bit of a dive, but overall investors didn’t overreact and run for the doors with their money. For the bigger picture, you can read IMF Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld’s blog that outlines how the U.S. election and Fed decision will impact the global economy. (more…)
Greece is once again in the headlines as discussions for the second review of its European Stability Mechanism (ESM) program are gaining pace. Unfortunately, the discussions have also spurred some misinformation about the role and the views of the IMF. Above all, the IMF is being criticized for demanding more fiscal austerity, in particular for making this a condition for urgently needed debt relief. This is not true, and clarifications are in order. (more…)
Version in 日本語 (Japanese)
Japan’s minimum wage is 798 JPY ($6.52) per hour, lower than many other advanced countries, including the United States, and among the lowest relative to the average wage (see chart). For a country that needs consumers to boost spending to pull the economy out of 15 years of deflation and reinvigorate growth, a hike in wages across the board can go a long way. (more…)
“The Great Distortion.” That’s what The Economist, in its cover story of May 2015¸ called the systematic tax advantage of debt over equity that is found in almost every tax system.
This “debt bias” is now widely recognized as a real risk to economic stability. A new IMF study argues that it needs to feature more prominently on tax reform agendas; it also sets out options for how to do that.
By José Viñals
Over the last six months, global financial stability risks increased as a result of the following developments:
- First, macroeconomic risks have risen, reflecting a weaker and more uncertain outlook for growth and inflation, and more subdued sentiment. These risks were highlighted yesterday at the World Economic Outlook press conference.
- Second, falling commodity prices and concerns about China’s economy have put pressure on emerging markets and advanced economy credit markets.
- Finally, confidence in policy traction has slipped, amid concerns about the ability of overburdened monetary policies to offset the impact of higher economic and political risks.
(Version in 日本語)
Everybody agrees: wages need to grow if Japan is to make a definite escape from deflation. Full- time wages have increased by a mere 0.3 percent since 1995! For example, despite its record profits, Toyota increased its base salary only by 1.1 percent last year. The average of 219 Keidanren firms managed just 0.44 percent. Clearly, an increase in base wages, colloquially referred to as “base up”, is long overdue.
Having successfully pulled Greece from the brink last summer and subsequently stabilized the economy, the government of Alexis Tsipras is now discussing with its European partners and the IMF a comprehensive multi-year program that can secure a lasting recovery and make debt sustainable. While discussions continue, there have been some misperceptions about the International Monetary Fund’s views and role in the process. I thought it would be useful to clarify issues.
Emerging markets have had a great run. The fifteen largest emerging market economies grew by 48% from 2009 to 2014, a period when the Group of Twenty economies collectively expanded by 6%.
How did emerging markets sustain this growth? In part, they drew upon bank lending to drive corporate credit expansion, strong earnings, and low defaults. This credit boom, combined with falling commodity prices and foreign currency borrowing, now leaves emerging market firms vulnerable and financial sectors under stress, as we discuss in the latest Global Financial Stability Report.
Problem loans are clogging the arteries of Europe’s banking system. The global financial crisis and subsequent recession have left businesses and households in many countries with debts that they cannot repay. Nonperforming loans as a share of total loans in the EU have more than doubled since 2009, reaching €1 trillion—over 9 percent of the region’s GDP—by end-2014. These loans are particularly high in the southern part of the euro area, as well as in several Eastern and Southeastern European countries. Only a handful of countries have managed to lower their nonperforming loan ratio to below its post-crisis peak.