Most people know Argentina as the land of tango, Malbec, and some of the greatest soccer players of all times. But Argentina is also famous for being home to some of the most diverse and extreme landscapes of the world—from subtropical rainforests and Iguazu Falls in the north to the glaciers of Perito Moreno in the south, and from the lowest site in South America (Laguna del Carbón) to the highest elevation in the Americas (Aconcagua mountain).
Tax officials and experts grappled with the issue of tax treaties several weeks ago at the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings. This arcane subject has now emerged as a new lightning rod in the debate on fairness in international taxation. As citizens demand that corporations pay their fair share of taxes and some governments struggle to raise enough revenues for basic services, tax treaties present difficult issues.
“The Great Distortion.” That’s what The Economist, in its cover story of May 2015¸ called the systematic tax advantage of debt over equity that is found in almost every tax system.
This “debt bias” is now widely recognized as a real risk to economic stability. A new IMF study argues that it needs to feature more prominently on tax reform agendas; it also sets out options for how to do that.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the American economist Irving Fisher warned of the dangers of excessive debt and the deflationary pressures that follow on its tail. He saw debt and deflation as the big, bad actors. Now, their close relatives—too high debt and too low inflation—are still in play, at least for advanced economies.
There are policy options to bring new life into anemic economic recoveries and to counteract renewed slowdowns. Our new paper, along with our co-authors, debunks widespread concerns that little can be done by policymakers facing a vicious cycle of (too) low growth, (too) low inflation, near-zero interest rates, and high debt levels.
By Vivek Arora
IMF lending increased to unprecedented levels in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. As difficulties emerged, we extended financial support to countries across the world—in the euro area, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and emerging economies in Europe.
The IMF tried to draw lessons in real time as the crisis evolved in order to adapt our operations. We reviewed individual programs and, from time to time, paused and took stock of our experience across countries.
Version in عربي (Arabic)
The significant and prolonged drop in oil prices since mid-2014 has changed the fortunes of many energy-exporting nations around the world. This applies particularly to countries of the Middle East and Central Asia, because these regions are home to 11 of the world’s top 20 energy exporters.
The global financial crisis led to a broad rethink of macroeconomic and financial policies in the global academic and policy community. Eight months into the job as IMF Chief Economist, Maury Obstfeld reflects on the IMF’s role in this rethinking and in furthering economic and financial stability.
Asia continues to be the world’s growth leader, but the gains from growth are less widely shared than before. Until about 1990, Asia grew rapidly and secured large gains in poverty reduction while simultaneously achieving a fairly equitable society. Since the early 1990s, however, the region has witnessed widening income inequality that has accompanied its robust expansion—a break from its own remarkable past.
This matters because elevated levels of inequality are harmful for the pace and sustainability of growth. What can be done? Our research finds that policies could substantially reverse the trend of rising inequality. In particular, given limited social safety nets, well-designed fiscal policies may be able to alleviate inequality without stifling the region’s wealth-creating growth.
Public finances have had a rough year. A new reality is emerging. Against this backdrop, countries need to act now to boost growth and build resilience. They must also be prepared to act together to fend off global risks.