What has been the role of foreign banks in financing growth and convergence in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, and how is that role changing? This is discussed in the first issue of a new series of analytical work on the region called Regional Economic Issues, which we launched at a joint IMF/Czech National Bank conference two weeks ago in Prague.
Worsening terms of trade, and the persistent strength of imports tied to investment spending have had a substantial impact on China’s currency account surplus. Economists here at the IMF suggest they account for close to two-thirds of that decline since 2007. But as I said above, there is little evidence that consumption is rising as a share of GDP. Yes, China is increasingly becoming a source of final consumer demand for the world economy, but its imports of consumer goods are growing at a slower pace than its imports of machinery and equipment.
With economic growth expected to continue at a reasonably good clip this year and next, it’s all too easy to think there’s not much to worry about. Even as Diwali celebrations begin across India, the outlook for the world economy is fairly uneven and uncertain. More worrisome than the subdued global growth outlook, risks are building up especially in Europe—and these include an extreme scenario with financial disruption. Although India’s economy has generally been less prone to external forces than many others, we still need to contend with the larger than typical risks in the global economy. These risks harken the need for a new wave of reforms. What does the more somber darker global outlook mean for India? And exactly what policies are needed?
Recent large equity sell-offs across Asia and safe haven flows into Japan illustrate perfectly the region’s vulnerabilities to further global shocks. While the region’s fundamentals—built up over the past decade—remain relatively strong, economic uncertainties in Europe and the United States pose large downside risks. The world economy has entered a dangerous new phase and, as the IMF’s Managing Director stated recently, “what makes the situation all the more urgent is that it has implications for every country.” Our Regional Economic Outlook for Asia and the Pacific emphasizes these risks, and stresses the need for policymakers to remain vigilant and nimble in this extraordinarily uncertain climate. The view from here in Tokyo—looking out at the region—may be more serene than the view from other advanced country capitals, but there are storm clouds on the horizon.
With all the anxiety generated by the troubles of Portugal, Greece, and Ireland, it is easy to forget that a different part of Europe was in the spotlight two years ago, facing equally dire predictions of bank runs, fiscal ruin, and devaluation. Today, many economies in emerging Europe are quietly staging a strong comeback. Most impressive is the turnaround in the three Baltic countries, which suffered record deep recessions in the wake of the 2008/09 financial crisis. Take Lithuania, which grew an eye-catching 14.7 percent in the first quarter of 2011. Given this good news, what more can policymakers do to sustain the recovery—and prevent a new boom-bust cycle? Raising the long-term growth trend is key.
The center of global economic growth is moving from the West to Asia. Over the last 30 years, the Asian economy has grown by over 7 percent each year, doubling in size every decade. This success has been based in large part on outward-oriented growth strategies. But, there is growing awareness that Asia’s export-led growth needs to be balanced by a second engine of growth. How to achieve this rebalancing is a key theme of a new book from the IMF, launched in Hong Kong, on Rebalancing Growth in Asia—Economic Dimensions for China.
As the economic recovery has matured across much of Asia, the region has continued to be a driving force in the strengthening global recovery. Yet, recent tragic events—around the globe, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan—are an all too poignant reminder of the fragility of our economic circumstances and, indeed, life. Much of this weighs on my mind as I am here in Hong Kong to launch our April 2011 Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific. While the outlook is by no means gloomy, policies will need to tackle new downside risks that have emerged and how to manage the next phase of Asia’s growth.
Of all the things policymakers have had to worry about in the past couple of years, inflation wasn’t one of them. Some even heralded the end of inflation. Today, inflation still isn’t a ‘problem’ in Asia. For the most part, it remains relatively modest, but it is on the rise in some countries in the region. And understanding what is driving that inflation matters. Policymakers need to consider the sources of inflation in choosing policy actions and policy tools. The issue of what drives inflation—or so-called inflation dynamics—is examined in our October 2010 Regional Economic Outlook for the Asia and Pacific region. In this post, Anoop Singh discusses the findings.
Asia’s leadership of the global recovery is continuing unabated. The IMF now expects GDP in Asia to grow by about 7¾ percent in 2010 (up about ½ a percentage point from what was envisaged in April), before easing to about 6¾ percent in 2011. And, even though the downside risks to growth have intensified, the region is well equipped to handle them.