The pandemic has highlighted the role of the public sector in saving lives and livelihoods. State-owned enterprises are part of that effort. They can be public utilities that provide essential services. Or public banks that provide loans to small businesses. […]
October 10, 2018
A firefighter in Auckland, New Zealand: when governments know what they own they can put their assets to better use and can earn about 3 percent of GDP more in revenues to spend on citizens’ well being (Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/Newscom)
What is the state of your personal finances? You probably think first about your debts: your mortgage, your credit card balance, and your student loans. But you probably also think about how much cash is sitting in the bank, the value of your house, and the rest of your nest egg.
Surprisingly, most governments do not approach their finances this way. […]
February 26, 2018
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 […]
December 13, 2017
Credit booms are addictive. Credit supports growth and the perception of wealth. Yet credit booms are risky, and are often followed by financial busts and economic slowdowns. The challenge is taming credit without hurting growth. […]
December 11, 2017
China’s “zombies” are non-viable firms that are adding to the country’s rising corporate debt problem, and are bad business. Zombie firms are highly indebted and incur persistent losses, but continue to operate with the support of local governments or soft loans by banks—adding very little value to economic prospects. China has already made a lot of progress in resolving these firms, and should continue its efforts to send the zombies packing. […]
November 27, 2017
Reforms in some mostly oil-exporting countries, along with lower international fuel prices since 2014, have reduced the size of fuel subsidies in sub-Saharan Africa, and they need to do more given the recent rise in international fuel prices.
Universal fuel and energy subsidies have been prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, but they have substantial drawbacks. They tend to benefit the rich rather than the poor, foster fuel overconsumption, and crowd out more productive government spending. […]