Rethinking Policy at the IMF

By iMFdirect

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.

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Raising Long-Run Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean—A Complex(ity) Issue

By Fabiano Rodrigues Bastos and Ke Wang

(Versions in Español and Português)

Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean has weakened significantly over the last few years. Part of this weakness appears to be here to stay, and IMF economists have marked down medium-term growth projections. This story sounds eerily familiar, given the region’s past difficulties to improve its comparative growth performance.

Abstracting from the “golden decade” from 2003 to 2011, when rising commodity prices powered a strong expansion, why has the region been unable to sustain sufficiently high growth rates to catch up with more advanced economies? Part of the answer is Latin America’s modest success in branching out into more sophisticated—or complex—goods.

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Measure to Measure: The Effect of Fiscal Policy on Growth and Stability

Vitor GasparBy Vitor Gaspar

Does fiscal policy respond systematically to economic activity? Can fiscal policy promote macroeconomic stability? Does greater stability support stronger growth? The answer is yes on all counts. This finding, while seemingly obvious, is now backed by numbers to match each question. The April 2015 Fiscal Monitor explores how.

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Cambodia: Moving Beyond The Frontier

MD's Updated HeadshotBy Christine Lagarde

Cambodia is the first leg of my Asia trip. This is a country that has already grown by leaps and bounds, and now stands at the frontier of becoming an emerging market economy in the heart of the most dynamic hub of the global economy.

I could feel this energy and excitement everywhere. Cambodians, especially young Cambodians, have big dreams and substantial societal aspirations. They want dignity and respect, so that they can fulfill their potential, both as individuals and as a nation. They want to embrace the wider world and all that it has to offer. They want good governance and strong institutions, which are essential to underpin economic development, empower people and ensure that prosperity is broadly shared.

I heard these themes consistently—from inspiring women leaders, from dynamic young economists, and from the students at the Royal School of Administration, where I gave a speech on how Cambodia can keep its forward momentum.

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Mideast Braces Itself for a Multi-Year Transition

My core takeaway from all these events is that the underlying sense of optimism in the promise of the Arab Spring is very much there, but there is also a growing recognition that managing the short-term transition will be even more difficult with the persistence of economic pressures and rising social expectations.

By | October 26th, 2011|Economic outlook, International Monetary Fund, Middle East|4 Comments

The MENA Jobs and Growth Challenge: How Can Finance Help?

Most policymakers in the Middle East and North Africa agree that stronger economic growth is a crucial component of any strategy to address the region’s persistently high levels of unemployment and raise its living standards. One question that arises is: What role can the financial sector play? It is well known that a dynamic and vibrant financial sector will improve economic outcomes for a country, leading to faster and more equitable economic growth. The key to answering this question, therefore, is to look to the past and examine how the financial sector has contributed historically to growth in the region. Unfortunately, the experience in the Middle East and North Africa has not been as successful as in other regions. How, then, can policymakers in the region enhance the financial system’s contribution to growth?

BRICs and Mortar—Building Growth in Low-Income Countries

By Dominique Desruelle and Catherine Pattillo

(Versions in 中文PortuguêsEspañol,  Русский)

The so-called BRIC nations—Brazil, Russia, India and China—could be a game changer for how low-income countries build their economic futures.  

The growing economic and financial reach of the BRICs has seen them become a new source of growth for low-income countries (LICs).

LIC-BRIC ties—particularly trade, investment and development financing—have surged over the past decade. And the relationship could take on even more prominence after the global financial crisis, with stronger growth in the BRICs and their demand for LIC exports helping to buffer against sluggish demand in most advanced economies.

The potential benefits from LIC-BRIC ties are enormous.

But, so too are challenges and risks that must be managed if the LIC-BRIC relationship to support durable and balanced growth in LICs. (more…)

Warning! Inequality May Be Hazardous to Your Growth

Some people dismiss inequality and focus on overall growth—arguing that a rising tide lifts all boats. But when—as in the U.S. in recent decades—a handful of yachts become ocean liners while the rest remain lowly canoes, something is seriously amiss. In fact, inequality matters. And it matters in all corners of the globe. Medical researchers ask how smoking, weight, and so on influence life expectancy. We wondered, what keeps long periods of high growth going? Somewhat to our surprise, income inequality stood out as a key driver. The upshot? It is a big mistake to separate analyses of growth and income distribution. A rising tide is still critical to lifting all the boats. But lifting up the lowest boats may actually help to keep the tide rising!

By | April 8th, 2011|growth, Inequality, International Monetary Fund|42 Comments

Observations on the Evolution of Economic Policies

It was a privilege to participate in the IMF conference devoted to rethinking policy frameworks in the wake of the crisis. Highly encouraging was the openness of the discussion, the range of views, the willingness to question orthodoxy, and the posture of humility. One gets the impression that the crisis triggered the response that it should. We have embarked on a path of rethinking conceptual frameworks and policy choices in a way that will contribute to the stability of the system. Returning to old patterns, while waiting for different or more complete models to be developed and tested, would be a risky mistake. Here, I offer five thoughts stimulated by the spirit of the conference, as a contribution to the broader discussion that we all hope might stimulate further research and policy analysis. And, ultimately, progress.

A Balanced Debate About Reforming Macroeconomics

The most remarkable aspect of the recent conference at the IMF was the broad consensus that the macroeconomic models that had been relied upon in the past and had informed major aspects of monetary and macro-policy had failed. They failed to predict the crisis and they provided limited guidance on how the economy should respond. There was also remarkable consensus about many elements of policy in responding to the crisis, and there were even large areas of policy consensus for the longer run. In short, the conference made an important contribution in invigorating a balanced debate about reforming macroeconomics.

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