Inequality: Fiscal Policy Can Make the Difference

By Vitor Gaspar and Mercedes Garcia-Escribano

 October 11, 2017

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

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.

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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” »

Inequality: Tools from the Old Masters to Help Today’s Policymakers

By Vitor Gaspar, Paolo Mauro, and Tigran Poghosyan

October 3, 2017

Unemployed day laborers in South Africa: the country has relatively high income, but also high inequality (photo: Rogan Ward/Newscom).

With inequality rising in many countries, policymakers need to choose the best fiscal policies that will help share the benefits of economic growth, and in so doing, make it more inclusive.

The early 20th century English economist Arthur Pigou, among others, saw economic welfare as influenced by both “the size of the national dividend” and “the way in which it is distributed among the members of the community.” Continue reading “Inequality: Tools from the Old Masters to Help Today’s Policymakers” »

Better thy Neighbor? Cross-border Effects of Fiscal Actions

By Patrick Blagrave, Giang Ho, Ksenia Koloskova, and Esteban Vesperoni

September 27, 2017

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

Domestic fiscal policies, such as public spending, can generate meaningful spillovers to neighboring countries (Photo: Ymgerman/iStock by GettyImages)

In the wake of the global financial crisis, fiscal stimulus was advocated widely to help mitigate the recession. The thinking at the time was that fiscal stimulus would be particularly effective because its impact on activity tends to be larger when demand falls short of supply and central banks keep interest rates low. This, in turn, would lead to larger positive cross-border effects—or spillovers—on other countries.

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Aging Japan Puts a Strain on the Financial System

By Gaston Gelos and Sònia Muñoz

August 10, 2017

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), 日本語 (Japanese)

Elderly shoppers in Tokyo’s Sugamo district: As Japan's population ages, demand for financial services shifts (photo: Issei Kato/Reuters/Newscom).

Japan’s population is shrinking and getting older, posing challenges to the nation’s financial system. How Japan copes could guide other advanced economies in Asia and Europe that are grappling with the same trends but are at an earlier phase of similar demographic developments.

Continue reading “Aging Japan Puts a Strain on the Financial System” »

Building Fiscal Institutions in Fragile States

By Katherine Baer, Sanjeev Gupta, Mario Pessoa

August 9, 2017

Version in Français (French)

A porter in the market in Kathmandu, Nepal: the country increased their tax revenues in recent years with the help of technical assistance (photo: Navesh Chitrakar/Newscom)

Fragile states face more obstacles to growth than most countries.  Their per-capita GDP is less than half of most other low-income countries, and their economies are more volatile.  Many are in conflict or going through a natural disaster, or just emerging from these.  Our study is based on 39 countries, and since completed, the number of fragile states has increased to 43. 

To grow, a country needs tax policies and tax administration, laws and institutions to formulate and execute a budget, and trained staff to implement fiscal policies, among other factors.  Our preliminary results show that fragile states that have received technical assistance, also have improved their fiscal performance.

Continue reading “Building Fiscal Institutions in Fragile States” »

All Hands on Deck: Confronting the Challenges of Capital Flows

By Atish R. Ghosh, Jonathan D. Ostry, and Mahvash S. Qureshi

August 2, 2017

Versions in  Español (Spanish)

Exchange rates board, Australian Securities Exchange: Emerging economies have several tools to manage capital flows. The most common are foreign exchange intervention and monetary policy (photo: wx-bradwang/iStock by Getty Images)

The global financial crisis and its aftermath saw boom-bust cycles in capital flows of unprecedented magnitude. Traditionally, emerging market economies were counselled not to impede capital flows. In recent years, however, there has been growing recognition that emerging market economies may benefit from more proactive management to avoid crisis when flows eventually recede. But do they adopt such a proactive approach in practice?

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A Firming Recovery

By Maurice Obstfeld

July 24, 2017

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

(photo: IMF)

The recovery in global growth that we projected in April is on a firmer footing; there is now no question mark over the world economy’s gain in momentum.

As in our April forecast, the World Economic Outlook Update projects  3.5 percent growth in global output for this year and 3.6 percent for next.

The distribution of this growth around the world has changed, however: compared with last April’s projection, some economies are up but others are down, offsetting those improvements. Continue reading “A Firming Recovery” »

Corrosive and Costly Corruption

By IMFblog

July 14, 2017 

Corruption can hurt growth and ruin people’s economic chances (photo: Eugene Keebler/iStock)

Corruption can lead to pervasive distrust in government, generating violence, civil strife, and conflict. And the results are devastating for people.

Another problem is that corruption is costly—particularly for those who are already worse off. IMF research shows that in countries with greater levels of corruption, infant mortality and dropout rates are especially high, partly due to less spending on health and education. Reduced investment in these areas tends to hurt poor people the most, and contributes to higher inequality. Continue reading “Corrosive and Costly Corruption” »

Two to Tango—Inflation Management in Unusual Times

By Vitor Gaspar, Maurice Obstfeld, and Chang Yong Rhee

June 15, 2017

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), and 日本語 (Japanese)

Shinjuku shopping district, Tokyo, Japan. Strong coordination between monetary and fiscal policies can help Japan tackle its low inflation (photo: Nikada/iStock/Getty Images)

Monetary and fiscal policies interact in complex ways. Yet modern institutional arrangements typically feature a strict separation of responsibilities. For example, the central bank targets inflation and smooths business cycle fluctuations, while the fiscal authority agrees to respect its budget constraint and to support financial stability by maintaining the safe asset status of its debt. This gives governments the freedom to pursue a multiplicity of economic and social objectives (in IMF parlance, inclusive growth).

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