Inequality: Fiscal Policy Can Make the Difference

By Vitor Gaspar and Mercedes Garcia-Escribano

 October 11, 2017

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Wealth and poverty side-by-side in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: inequality is rising within countries around the world (photo: Jean-Marc David/SIPA/Newscom). 

Income inequality among people around the world has been declining in recent decades. This is due to countries like China and India’s incomes catching-up to advanced economies. But the news is not all good. Inequality within countries has increased, particularly in advanced economies. Since the global economic recovery has gained pace and is now widespread, policymakers have a window of opportunity to respond with reforms that tackle inequality, and our new Fiscal Monitor shows how the right mix of fiscal policies can make the difference.

Continue reading “Inequality: Fiscal Policy Can Make the Difference” »

Global Economic Upswing Creates a Window of Opportunity

By Maurice Obstfeld

October 10, 2017

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

 

The global recovery is continuing, and at a faster pace. The picture is very different from early last year, when the world economy faced faltering growth and financial market turbulence. We see an accelerating cyclical upswing boosting Europe, China, Japan, and the United States, as well as emerging Asia.

The latest World Economic Outlook has therefore upgraded its global growth projections to 3.6 percent for this year and 3.7 percent for next—in both cases 0.1 percentage point above our previous forecasts, and well above 2016’s global growth rate of 3.2 percent, which was the lowest since the global financial crisis. Continue reading “Global Economic Upswing Creates a Window of Opportunity” »

Peer Pressure: Tax Competition and Developing Economies

By Michael Keen and Jim Brumby

July 11, 2017

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A salesman checks an iphone in New Delhi, India: governments compete to attract investors with low corporate tax rates (photo: Adnan Abidi/Reuters/Newscom)

Economists tend to agree on the importance of competition for a sound market economy. So, what’s the problem when it comes to governments competing to attract investors through the tax treatment they provide? The trouble is that by competing with one another and eroding each other’s revenues, countries end up having to rely on other—typically more distortive—sources of financing or reduce much-needed public spending, or both. Continue reading “Peer Pressure: Tax Competition and Developing Economies” »

Chart of the Week: A Storm by Any Other Name

By IMFBlog

June 19, 2017

Women look at destruction after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti ( photo: Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/TNS)

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” »

The Compact with Africa—The Contribution of the IMF

By Christine Lagarde

June 12, 2017

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IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on a visit to Nigeria in 2016 (photo: IMF staff/Steve Jaffe)

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.

Continue reading “The Compact with Africa—The Contribution of the IMF” »

Chart of the Week: Conflict’s Legacy for Growth

By IMFBlog

Versions in عربي (Arabic)

May 8, 2017

Conflict has been on the rise since the early 2000s given the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

 Conflict leads not only to immeasurable human costs, but also to substantial economic losses with consequences that can persist for years. The tragic rise in conflict has weighed on global GDP growth in recent years, given the increasing number of countries experiencing strife, the severe effect on economic activity, and the considerable size of some of the affected economies.

The IMF’s most recent World Economic Outlook (Box 1.1) takes a closer look through the lens of conflict’s impact on economic growth and migration.  Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Conflict’s Legacy for Growth” »

Chart of the Week: The Cost of Asia’s Aging

By IMFBlog

May 1, 2017

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), Bahasa (Indonesia), and 本語 (Japanese) 

When it comes to tackling demographic change in Asia, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for policymakers. In some countries, like Japan, the population is aging rapidly, and the labor force is shrinking. In others, like the Philippines, young people are flooding the job market in search of work.

As our chart shows, the impact of aging could potentially drag down Japan’s average annual GDP growth by 1 percentage point over the next three decades. While in India and the Philippines, which have some of the youngest populations in the region, a growing workforce could potentially increase GDP by that same amount. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: The Cost of Asia’s Aging” »

Chart of the Week: Sharing the Fruits of Growth

By IMFBlog

At last week’s Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, economists and policymakers discussed ways to maintain the momentum of the global economic expansion—while also ensuring that the fruits of growth are shared more widely within their countries. Fiscal policy—government’s ability to tax and spend—has an important role to play.

The effectiveness of fiscal policy in mitigating inequality varies widely by country, as seen in our Chart of the Week. The chart shows the redistribution effect of fiscal policy before and after taxes, as measured by the change in the Gini coefficient. A Gini of zero expresses perfect equality, while a Gini of one expresses maximum inequality. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Sharing the Fruits of Growth” »

Five Keys to a Smart Fiscal Policy

By Vitor Gaspar and Luc Eyraud

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

We live in a world of dramatic economic change. Rapid technological innovation has fundamentally reshaped the way we live and work. International trade and finance, migration, and worldwide communications have made countries more interconnected than ever, exposing workers to greater competition from abroad. While these changes have brought tremendous benefits, they have also led to a growing perception of uncertainty and insecurity, particularly in advanced economies.

Today’s conditions require new, more innovative solutions, which the IMF calls smart fiscal policies. By smart policies we mean policies that facilitate change, harness its growth potential, and protect people who are hurt by it. At the same time, excessive borrowing and record levels of public debt have limited the financial resources available to government. So, fiscal policy must do more with less. Fortunately, researchers and policy makers are realizing that the fiscal tool kit is broader and the tools more powerful than they thought. Five guiding principles sketch the contours of these smart fiscal policies, which are described in chapter one of the IMF’s April 2017 Fiscal Monitor. Continue reading “Five Keys to a Smart Fiscal Policy” »

Revisiting the Paradox of Capital: The Reversal of Uphill Flows

By Emine Boz, Luis Cubeddu, and Maurice Obstfeld

Versions in عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Français (French),  Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

Basic economic theory tells us that capital should flow from slow-growing rich countries to faster-growing poor ones in search of higher returns. A decade ago, our former Research Department colleagues Eswar Prasad, Raghuram Rajan, and Arvind Subramanian examined why the reverse had been true—capital generally flowed “uphill” from poorer to richer countries. Building on the seminal work of Robert Lucas, they argued that certain characteristics of poorer countries, such as weaker institutions and lower levels of education, may reduce the risk-adjusted returns to investing there.  Continue reading “Revisiting the Paradox of Capital: The Reversal of Uphill Flows” »

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