Asia Needs More Access to Financial Services to Grow

2019-03-13T14:26:34-04:00September 18, 2018|

By  Sarwat Jahan, Elena LoukoianovaCormac Sullivan and Yongzheng Yang

September 18, 2018

中文, 日本語

A customer pays at a supermarket using her smartphone in Bangkok, Thailand: urban and rural areas in the region widely use mobile payment platforms to access financial services (photo: Li Mangmang Xinhua News Agency/Newscom)

In Asia, the world’s fastest-growing region, expanding access to financial services for more people will mean higher growth, as well as lower poverty and inequality. […]

Chart of the Week: China’s Thrift, and What to Do About It

2019-03-15T10:18:30-04:00February 26, 2018|

February 26, 2018

By IMFBlog

A pedestrian walks in front of a branch of the Postal Savings Bank of China in Nanjing. China’s saving rate is one of the world’s highest (photo: Imagine China/Newscom).

What makes China’s citizens so thrifty, and why does that matter for China and the rest of the world? The country’s saving rate, at 46 percent of GDP, is among the world’s highest. Households account for about half of savings, with corporations and the government making up the rest.

Saving is good, right? Up to a point. But too much saving by individuals can be bad for society. That’s because the flip side of high savings is low consumption and low household welfare. High savings can also fuel excessive investment, resulting in a buildup of debt in China. And because people in China save so much, they buy fewer imported goods than they sell abroad. That contributes to global imbalances, according to a recent IMF paper, China’s High Savings: Drivers, Prospects, and Policies. The country’s authorities are aware of the […]

Three German Economic Challenges with European Effect

2019-03-15T12:07:06-04:00January 17, 2018|

By Christine Lagarde

January 17, 2018

Berlin, Germany: The bright economic outlook offers a chance for policymakers to address the country’s economic challenges (photo: iStock/Andrey Danilovich).

The economic outlook for Germany is bright. Optimism among investors abounds, and unemployment is at a record low. Policymakers now have a unique opportunity to address the challenges facing the German economy. These are varied but include boosting wages, investing in infrastructure, and reducing the large trade surplus. As the largest economy of the euro area, Germany also has a stake in fostering reforms in the monetary union. Successfully rising to these challenges is critical for Germany and for the euro area as a whole.

[…]

Turkey’s Recipe to Escape the Middle-Income Trap

2017-04-14T01:49:16-04:00December 15, 2014|

By Gregorio Impavido and Uffe Mikkelsen

(Version in Türk)

Turkey is going through a time of economic transition, with slowing growth that risks the country being caught in a “middle-income trap,” unable to join the ranks of high income economies. 

The country grew at 6 percent per year on average in the period 2010-13, with policies supportive of domestic consumption. This has generated a large current account deficit, mostly financed by short-term capital flows. The reliance on consumption at the expense of investment, slow export growth, and sizable investment needs have hurt potential growth, with the economy already growing more modestly. Moreover, Turkey’s low domestic savings and competitiveness challenges have limited investment as well as exports, which have also suffered from the slow growth in Europe.

With current policies, Turkey’s economy is expected to grow only 3.5 percent annually over the next five years. Going forward, the economy must be rebalanced to make it more competitive and to restore output and employment growth.

[…]

Saving Latin America’s Unprecedented Income Windfall

2017-04-15T13:35:27-04:00May 20, 2013|

by Gustavo Adler and Nicolás Magud

(Versions in Español and Português)

Commodity exporting countries in Latin America have benefited strongly from the commodity price boom that began around 2002. And the accompanying improvements in public and external balance sheets have fed a sense that this time the macroeconomic response to the terms-of-trade boom has been different (and more prudent) than in past episodes. But, has it?

In our recent work, we analyze the history of Latin America’s terms-of-trade booms during 1970–2012 and quantify the associated income windfall (i.e., the extra income arising from improved terms-of-trade). We also document saving patterns during these episodes and assess the extent of the “effort” to save the income windfall.

Our findings suggest that, although the additional income shock associated to the recent terms-of-trade boom is unprecedented in magnitude, the effort to save it has been lower than in past episodes.

[…]

United States: How Inequality Affects Saving Behavior

2017-04-15T14:03:39-04:00September 13, 2012|

Following the crisis, sharp losses in the values of houses and financial assets, as well as difficulties in obtaining new credit, forced American families to save more and rebuild their wealth. The ensuing rise in the saving rate, which stood at 4 percent in the second quarter of 2012, has been an important reason why the recovery from the 2008–09 recession has been sluggish. Therefore, our study looked at which types of households drove the aggregate saving rate down before the crisis and those that drove it up afterwards, so as to improve our ability to assess the potential for future U.S. growth.
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