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. (more…)
For an economist interested in examining the evolution of monetary and exchange rate regimes, Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) provides a habitat of unparalleled diversity. Almost every type of regime can be found in the region: from floating and inflation targeting over various pegs to the unilateral use of the euro and full euro area membership.
Even before geopolitical tensions unleashed currency flight, bank deposit withdrawals and surging risk premiums, Ukraine faced serious challenges. The crisis there has been years in the making, reflecting deep structural problems that left it vulnerable to periodic funding shortfalls and near the bottom of transition country league tables. Thus, any program to tackle the immediate crisis in Ukraine must inevitably come to grips with this legacy.
The IMF has sharply marked down its forecast for world growth and it now expects a mild recession in the euro area. Naturally, weaker world growth will affect economic activity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Concretely, the Fund expects the world economy to grow by just 3¼ percent in 2012, ¾ percentage points lower than our September forecasts. In contrast, our forecast for the U.S. economy for 2012 is unchanged, as incoming data signal a stronger—but still sluggish—domestic recovery that will offset a weaker global environment. Commodity prices will be affected by ebbing global demand, with oil projected to fall about 5 percent and non-oil commodities about 14 percent.
For a decade or more, we at the IMF have grappled with the idea that very large capital flows into successful emerging market countries were almost inevitable and would prove extremely difficult to manage. Since these topics were first broached at a theoretical level, we have witnessed developments in a number of emerging economies in Europe that reinforce the concerns and underscore the implications for policy. Two lessons may be learned from the experience. First, the choice between fixed and flexible exchange rates is important, but perhaps not for reasons that are usually put forward. Second, monetary policy—and policy to stabilize the economy more generally—needs substantial reinforcement.
Latin America has enjoyed tremendous economic dynamism and a rising quality of life over the past decade. But the region’s transformation is not yet complete. Leaders across the region should capitalize on today’s favorable conditions, transforming their countries to the next level, and ensuring that the benefits of growth are more widely shared. The question is: how best to do that? As I travel through the region next week—visiting Panama, Uruguay, and Brazil—I’m looking forward to hearing the views of government officials, parliamentarians, and university students on the key challenges facing their countries today.
Countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia region that import, rather than export, oil were hit hard by the Great Recession of 2008/09. The good news is that, today, the outlook for those countries is broadly positive. But, as often seems to be the case in today’s world, this good news is tempered with a word of caution. According to our latest Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia, there are a number of downside risks. And the key challenge for these four countries—Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan—will be to take actions now to address these risks.
A couple of weeks ago, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn attended the 2nd World Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in Vancouver. Reflecting on his meetings with the labor movement, he draws three main conclusions: (i) the IMF views its interaction with the labor movement as extremely valuable, and this had influenced our thinking; (ii) the labor movement has a major role to play in supporting continued economic cooperation across the world; and (iii) the IMF and labor movement share a number of important goals—standing against narrow domestic interests, nationalism, and war.