The Time is Nigh: How Reforms Can Bring Back Productivity Growth in Emerging Markets

By  Era Dabla-Norris and Kalpana Kochar

(Version in Español)

The era of remarkable growth in many emerging market economies fueled by cheap money and high commodity prices may very well be coming to an end.

The slowdown reflects not just inadequate global demand, but also structural factors that are rendering previous growth engines less effective, and the fact that economic “good times” reduced the incentives to implement further reforms to enhance productivity. With the end of the period of favorable global financing and trade conditions, the time is nigh for governments to make strong efforts to increase productivity—the essential foundation of sustainable growth and rising living standards. Continue reading “The Time is Nigh: How Reforms Can Bring Back Productivity Growth in Emerging Markets” »

Lurking in the Shadows—The Risks from Nonbank Intermediation in China

One of my all-time favorite movies is “The Third Man” starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten. Perhaps the most striking part of the movie is the shadowy cinematography, set in post-World War II Vienna. Strangely, it springs to mind lately when I have been thinking of China. Many China-watchers looked on in 2009 as the government’s response to the global financial crisis unfolded, causing bank lending to expand by close to 20 percentage points in less than a year. At the same time, a less visible phenomenon was also getting underway. One that, like Orson Welles’ character in the movie, resided firmly in the shadows. Various types of nonbank financial intermediaries were gearing up to provide more credit. Talking to people in China, and looking at what numbers are available, one cannot help but have an uneasy feeling that more credit is now finding its way into the economy outside of the banking system than is actually flowing through the banks. This worries me for four broad reasons.

By | November 3rd, 2011|Asia, Financial regulation, International Monetary Fund|

A Tale of Titans: The Too Important to Fail Conundrum

Folklore is riddled with tales of a lone actor undoing a titan: David and Goliath; Heracles and Atlas; Jack and the Beanstalk, to name a few. Financial institutions seen as too important to fail have become even larger and more complex since the global crisis. We need look no further than the example of investment bank Lehman Brothers to understand how one financial institution’s failure can threaten the global financial system and create devastating effects to economies around the world. We’ve been looking at how to fix the too important to fail problem, and favor market based measures to help reduce the likelihood and impact of a failure. Global regulators have come up with a new set of tighter rules for all banks, known as Basel III, as a starting point to make the system less risky and address a number of regulatory issues. Implementation may take several years, however, while systemic institutions continue to grow in size and complexity, and may resume their risky practices. So in the interim, we’d like to see rapid, credible, and visible actions.

Global Recovery Strengthens, Tensions Heighten

The world economic recovery is gaining strength, but it remains unbalanced. Earlier fears of a double dip recession—which we did not share—have not materialized. And, although rising commodity prices conjure the specter of 1970s-style stagflation, they appear unlikely to derail the recovery. However, the unbalanced recovery confronts policy makers with difficult choices. In most advanced economies, output is still far below potential. Low growth implies that unemployment will remain high for many years to come. And the problems in Europe’s periphery are particularly acute. On the other end of the spectrum, emerging market countries must avoid overheating in the face of closing output gaps and higher capital flows. The need for careful design of macroeconomic policies at the national level, and coordination at the global level, may be as important today as they were at the peak of the crisis two years ago.

Time Waits for No Man: How to Secure Financial Stability in 2011

So, where does the global financial system stand at the moment? Yes, we have witnessed improvements recently, but we are also observing a dichotomy between the economy and the financial system. While the global economic recovery has been continuing, financial stability is still at risk, because of a persistent lack of investor confidence in some advanced country sovereigns and their banking systems. In this post José Viñals reflects on the IMF’s updated assessment of global financial stability, including the key challenges that keep global financial stability at risk and the policies needed to meet these challenges.

Financial System Fragilities – Achilles’ Heel of Economic Recovery

It would be unfair for any assessment of global economic and financial stability not to acknowledge the tremendous progress has been made in repairing and strengthening the financial system since the onset of the global crisis. Still, the key message from the IMF’s October 2010 Global Financial Stability Report is clear. Progress toward global financial stability has suffered a setback over the past six months—the financial system remains the Achilles’ heel of the economic recovery. In this blog post, José Viñals discusses two broad issues. What is at the heart of this lingering lack of confidence? And, looking ahead, what are the policy priorities?

Just Do It—Shaping the New Financial System

The crisis exposed fundamental weaknesses in many areas of the world economy, the most obvious being dramatic deficiencies in the regulation and supervision-nationally and internationally-of financial institutions and markets. On the bright side, the crisis provided the impetus for a major overhaul of the financial regulatory system. So, are we making the most of this opportunity to fix the system? A new Staff Position Note, Shaping the New Financial System, examines just how far we’ve come and, more importantly, how much further we have to go. The good news is that policymakers have made important progress in some areas, and the work underway is moving in the right direction. The bad news is that we are barely half way there and the hardest part may lie ahead. Indeed, unless there is concrete progress over the next 12 months in a few key areas, we may well sow the seeds of the next financial crisis.

Forewarned Is Forearmed: How the Early Warning Exercise Expands the IMF’s Surveillance Toolkit

“Never again can we let ourselves be caught unprepared by an economic and financial crisis of such global magnitude.” This was the spirit, in late 2008, in which G-20 Finance Ministers tasked the IMF and the Financial Stability Board to jointly develop an Early Warning Exercise (EWE). The inspiration was clear: In the wake of the onset of unprecedented financial turmoil, policymakers recognized that earlier danger signs had not been synthesized into an actionable warning. The EWE was intended to fill the analytical gap—to produce an effective “call to arms” as threats emerge, but well before crises erupt. Here, IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky discusses how the EWE works, and how it will help to more systematically and effectively reduce the risk of a new global crisis.

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore: Exploring the Contours of the Financial System After the Tornado

Just as a tornado in Kansas transplanted Dorothy and, her dog, Toto from familiar comforts to the unknown land of Oz, the global crisis has led many to wonder what has become of the global financial system and, more importantly, what will it look like next. Is the wicked witch of the West—excessive risk taking and leverage—really dead? Now, as the storm subsides, there is time to speculate about what the future financial sector might look like. Here, Laura Kodres blogs about a new Staff Position Note she co-authored with Aditya Narain that attempts to discern the contours of this new financial landscape.

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