How Flexible Exchange Rates Helped Latin America Adjust to Commodity Price Shocks

By Yan Carrière-Swallow, Nicolás Magud, and Juan Yépez

May 25, 2017

Versions in Português (Portuguese), and Español (Spanish)

(photo: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters/Newscom)

As world prices for Latin America’s key exports—oil, metal, and agricultural products—fell from their super-cycle peak in 2011 and demand from trading partners weakened, export revenues have dropped sharply. Across most of South America, export revenues have fallen by one-third, and by more than half in the case of Venezuela. The size of these shocks has been historic in some cases, ranking among the largest trade price busts faced by emerging economies around the world since 1960. (more…)

Can Raising Japan’s Minimum Wage Accelerate Wage Growth?

By Luc Everaert and Giovanni Ganelli

Version in 日本語 (Japanese)

Japan’s minimum wage is 798 JPY ($6.52) per hour, lower than many other advanced countries, including the United States, and among the lowest relative to the average wage (see chart). For a country that needs consumers to boost spending to pull the economy out of 15 years of deflation and reinvigorate growth, a hike in wages across the board can go a long way. (more…)

Rising Income Polarization in the United States

Ali Alichi-IMFBy Ali Alichi

Version in Español (Spanish)

The latest IMF review of the U.S. economy underscores the country’s resilience in the face of financial market volatility, a strong dollar, and subdued global demand. But the review also cites longer-term challenges to growth, including rising income polarization.

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The African Century

By Antoinette M. Sayeh and Abebe Aemro Selassie

If, as has been observed, demography is destiny, this will be the African century.

Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa are on the cusp of a demographic transition—the years when the share of young and old in the population declines and those in working age range (15-64 years) increases.

Elsewhere, this transition has generally been accompanied by higher savings, incomes, and economic growth. Our latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa looks at how the transition might play out and the implications for economic policies.
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Does Raising the Minimum Wage Hurt Employment? Evidence from China

Prakash LounganiBy Prakash Loungani

(version in 中文)

Raising the minimum wage is a polarizing issue. One side worries that raising it will lower employment. The other side downplays the impact on employment and plays up the positive impact on the living standards of the poor. Both sides are able to cling to their beliefs as the evidence, much of which comes from high-income (“advanced”) economies, is mixed.

The majority of the global labor force, however, is in the emerging markets. Moreover, for a number of these countries, instituting a minimum wage or raising it is squarely on the policy agenda. But little is known about the impacts of minimum wages on employment and living standards in emerging markets.

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Era of Benign Neglect of House Price Booms is Over

Min ZhuBy Min Zhu

(Versions in  عربيEspañol, 日本語中文, Français, and Русский)

House prices are inching up.  But is this a cause for much cheer?  Or are we watching the same movie again? Recall how after a decade-long boom, house prices started to fall in 2006, first in the United States and then elsewhere, contributing to the 2008-9 global financial crisis. In fact, our research indicates that boom-bust patterns in house prices preceded more than two-thirds of the recent 50 systemic banking crises. Real Estate Boom.Chart1

While a recovery in the housing market (Figure 1) is surely a welcome development, we need to guard against another unsustainable boom. Housing is an essential sector of every country’s economy and has systemic implications, which is why we at the IMF are focusing on it not only in individual countries but on a cross-country basis.

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Managing the revenue from natural resources—what’s a Finance Minister to do?

By Sanjeev Gupta and Enrique Flores

(Versions in Español)

The Finance Minister answers her mobile. On the line is the Minister of Energy, who informs her that the country has struck oil and that he expects revenues from its sale to start flowing into the budget in the coming four years. While excited by the prospects of higher revenues—indeed the average resource-rich country gets more than 15 percent of GDP in resource revenues—she starts to ponder how to use these revenues for her country’s development. She is aware that only in rare cases have natural resources served as a catalyst for development; too often they have led to economic instability, corruption, and conflict or what has been termed as “the resource curse.”

SDN on Resource Wealth.Chart1

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Lagarde: Women Can Help Grow the World Economy

(Versions in Español and عربي)

Hot off the press: a new study out today from our economists pointing to the striking economic benefits that could come from increased female participation in the work force.

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde, calling attention to the findings of the paper, “Women, Work, and the Economy,” made the case for policymakers to shift into high gear and give women equal opportunities to participate in the work force.

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Seven Billion Reasons to Worry: the Financial Impact of Living Longer

Everyone wants at some point to stop working and enjoy retirement. In these uncertain economic times, most people worry about their pension. Now take your worries and multiply those several billion times. And the problem is likely bigger still: although living longer, healthier lives is a good thing, how do you afford retirement if you will live even longer than previously thought?

Beyond Growth: the Importance of Inclusion

Economists care about growth. Governments care about what it can achieve: more jobs and more income for more people. An increasing number of African countries have been growing robustly for more than a decade. But while growth is a necessary condition for poverty reduction and employment creation, is it also sufficient?

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